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    Author(s): William A. Gould; Sebastian Martinuzzi; Olga M. Ramos Gonzalez
    Date: 2008
    Source: Res. Map IITF-RMAP-11. Rio Piedras, PR: U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, International Institute of Tropical Forestry.
    Publication Series: Research Map (RMAP)
    Station: International Institute of Tropical Forestry
    PDF: Download Publication  (3.06 MB)


    This map shows the distribution of high and low density developed lands in Puerto Rico (Martinuzzi et al. 2007). The map was created using a mosaic of Landsat ETM+ images that range from the years 2000 to 2003. The developed land cover was classified using the Iterative Self-Organizing Data Analysis Technique (ISODATA) unsupervised classification (ERDAS 2003). Developed land cover refers to urban, built-up and non-vegetated areas that result from human activity. These typically include built structures, concrete, asphalt, and other infrastructure. The developed cover was divided into high and low-density using a textural filter. Using a 300 m by 300 m window, the filter evaluates the proportion of surrounding developed and nondeveloped pixels of a given pixel. High-density refers to those urban pixels that are surrounded by more than 50% of developed pixels, while low-density refers to those pixels that are surrounded by less than 50% of developed pixels. From a total of 95 342 ha of urban/built-up lands, 54 899 ha (nearly 60%) is high-density development, and 40 443 ha (nearly 40%) is low-density developments. High-density development reflects the compact pattern of construction within urban centers, including cities and towns, along important connections between major cities, and within exurban agglomerations that are non-contiguous with the urban centers; conversely, low-density reflects the noncontiguous pattern of development that expands outward from urban centers in linear features following the road network and isolated constructions. Some of the biggest highways and routes are also included within the low-density developments. Development is closely tied to the topography of the island. Development decreases rapidly as slope increases. This tendency is observed on the total built-up areas and high-density developments, for low-density development the decrease with the slope is much slower. Between 5º and 6º slopes, the relationship between the two types of development inverts. From 0º to 5–6º the amount of high density development is greater than the corresponding low-density development, while the contrary is found at higher slopes. The 6º slope also represents the separation point between the plains and the hills and mountains in the physiography of the island. Consequently, high-density development predominates in the plains, while low-density development predominates in hills and mountains.

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    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Gould, William A.; Martinuzzi, Sebastian; Ramos Gonzalez, Olga M. 2008. High and low density development in Puerto Rico. Scale 1: 260 000. Res. Map IITF-RMAP-11. Rio Piedras, PR: U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, International Institute of Tropical Forestry.


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    high-density development, low-density development, developed land cover, human activity, Landsat, Puerto Rico, built-up and non-vegetated areas, urban/built-up lands, maps

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