Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Applied Ecology (MS)

Administrative Home Department

College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science

Advisor 1

Ann Maclean

Committee Member 1

Mike Hyslop

Committee Member 2

Christopher Webster


One of important characteristics of riparian area is to protect surface and underground water from nutrient contaminated runoff from nearby farmland. Comparing with the traditional fixed-width riparian buffer delineation, the Riparian Buffer Delineation Model (RBDM) to be used in this study, is a GIS-based tool designed to map variable-width riparian buffers by taking into consideration the watercourse and its associated floodplain. As the use of biofuels increases especially derived from corn, riparian areas are often converted to agricultural fields due to the nutrient rich soils and flat topography commonly found in these locations. Meanwhile, it also gives rise to nonpoint source pollution since massive amounts of fertilizer applied to corn yearly, excess nitrogen and phosphorus commonly wash into adjacent streams and lakes. Wisconsin (WI) is one of the states with this typical issue of planting plenty of corns, so how does the corn acreage changes over years and how does it relate to the riparian area function? This study developed two tools utilizing Python and ArcMap GIS were coded to facilitate geoprocessing and to insure and maintain data correctness. To illustration how to visualize the crop acreage changes in riparian area, nine watersheds with highest increase in corn acreage from 2008 to 2018 were selected as samples for analysis. The results indicate if corn acreage continuous to grow, the use of petroleum based fertilizer will also grow as well as soil erosion. (416827 kB)