Landscape Hydrology, A Component of Landscape Ecology

Bruce K. Ferguson

DOI: 10.2190/8HLE-91G9-LP0R-XHYG


A landscape is a three-dimensional mosaic of interacting environmental components or zones. Landscape hydrology—the movement and storage of water in landscapes—deserves to be seen in a broad view of environmental relationships. A framework is presented to make landscape patterns and environmental relationships comprehensible and manageable. It organizes the types of hydrologic components that exist in landscapes, the fluxes among them, and their implications for mankind's management of water and of the environment in general.

The water balance summarizes the fluxes of water through a land area. Within a landscape, different types of flows and storages occur in a series of layers or mantles. The dominant types of hydrologic structures and processes in different landscapes can be compared by relating the topography and permeability of the various mantles to the drainage base level. Artificial water supplies and dispositions amount to diversions into and out of the environmental mantles. Water management enables water to be used or disposed by stimulating the mantles to produce altered levels of water quantity, quality, time and place.

A unified concept of landscape hydrology, reflecting the interaction of environmental mantles, allows recognition of the implications of human management of water and landscape. Ecosystemic cycles are armatures on which to build future land and resource uses. Preservation of the hydrologic equilibrium in landscapes ought to be one of the objectives of resource use.

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