Population and Land Use Change in the California Mojave: Natural Habitat Implications of Alternative Futures

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Population Research and Policy Review


Kluwer Academic Publishers

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Demographic and land use dynamics have important implications for the natural environment within both developed and developing nations. Within the context of developed nations, popular and policy debates surrounding contemporary patterns of suburbanization attest to the salience of demographic and development issues. We examine the implications of land-use patterns as related to population and development within the context of the California Mojave Desert ecosystem. In a general sense, we aim to better understand the land requirements inferred by varying levels of population growth and density, as well as the natural habitat implications of those requirements. We develop a GIS including remotely sensed imagery, and demographic, economic, and biophysical data to examine of the implications of various demographic scenarios on species diversity. Spatial and statistical models are designed to develop possible alternative land use 'futures'. Within the context of the California Mojave region, our results suggest that high- density development could reduce conflict with regions providing potential habitat for threatened or endangered species by over 80 percent. The process of model development demonstrates a potentially useful tool for policymakers, allowing for estimation and visualization of the land use implications of policy decisions.

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