The effect of model structure and data in modeling land conditions in disturbed complex ecosystems

Shoufan Fang, George Z. Gertner, Alan B. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Off-road vehicles increase soil erosion by reducing vegetation cover and other types of ground cover, and by changing the structure of soil. The investigation of the relationship between disturbance from off-road vehicles and the intensity of the activities that involve use of vehicles is essential for water and soil conservation and facility management. Models have been developed in a previous study to predict disturbance caused by off-road vehicles. However, the effect of data on model quality and model performance, and the appropriate structure of models have not been previously investigated. In order to improve the quality and performance of disturbance models, this study was designed to investigate the effects of model structure and data. The experiment considered and tested: (1) two measures of disturbance based on the Vegetation Cover Factor (C Factor) of the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE) and Disturbance Intensity; (2) model structure using two modeling approaches; and (3) three subsets of data. The adjusted R-square and residuals from validation data are used to represent model quality and performance, respectively. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) is used to identify factors which have significant effects on model quality and performance. The results of the ANOVA show that subsets of data have significant effects on both model quality and performance for both measures of disturbance. The ANOVA also detected that the C Factor models have higher quality and performance than the Disturbance models. Although modeling approaches are not a significant factor based on the ANOVA tests, models containing interaction terms can increase the adjusted R-squares for nearly all tested conditions and the maximum improvement can reach 31%.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-77
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 2007


  • Disturbance to ecosystems
  • Interaction
  • Logistic model
  • Soil erosion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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