Baltimore Ecosystem Study Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2014 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Many Roads Lead to Rome: Heterogeneity and Equifinality in BES Watershed Response
Schwartz, Stu
Co-Authors: Brennan Smith

Abstract: Urban landscapes epitomize the superposition of human generated heterogeneity on the natural landscape. Urban heterogeneity is manifested in highly variable dissimilar landscape features and granularity across spatial and temporal scales. Despite the heterogeneity of urban watersheds, hydrologic and biogeochemical responses of urban watersheds can exhibit equifinality across scales, yielding homologous predictable responses from manifestly different landscapes. The inherent dynamics coupling heterogeneity and equifinality belie the paradigm of a simple “urban template” to explain or predict urban system response. We use examples drawn from the hydrologic and water quality monitoring data to suggest how the heterogeneity in urban landscape form results in equifinality of urban watershed functional response that can be characterized as a mixture model across dominant process endpoints.