Landscape-based geostatistics: A case study of the distribution of blue crab in Chesapeake Bay

Olaf P. Jensen, Mary C. Christman, Thomas J. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Geostatistical techniques have gained widespread use in ecology and environmental science. Variograms are commonly used to describe and examine spatial autocorrelation, and kriging has become the method of choice for interpolating spatially-autocorrelated variables. To date, most applications of geostatistics have defined the separation between sample points using simple Euclidean distance. In heterogeneous environments, however, certain landscape features may act as absolute or semi-permeable barriers. This effective separation may be more accurately described by a measure of distance that accounts for the presence of barriers. Here we present an approach to geostatistics based on a lowest-cost path (LCP) function, in which the cost of a path is a function of both the distance and the type of terrain crossed. The modified technique is applied to 13 years of survey data on blue crab abundance in Chesapeake Bay. Use of this landscape-based distance metric significantly changed estimates of all three variogram parameters. In this case study, although local differences in kriging predictions were apparent, the use of the landscape-based distance metric did not result in consistent improvements in kriging accuracy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)605-621
Number of pages17
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 2006
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Ecological Modeling


  • Barriers
  • Blue crab
  • Chesapeake Bay
  • Distance metric
  • Kriging
  • Variogram


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