Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: New York
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Splinter, D. K., D. C. Dauwalter, R. A. Marston, and W. L. Fisher. 2011. Watershed morphology of highland and moutain ecoregions in eastern Oklahoma. The Professional Geographer 63:1-13.


The fluvial system represents a nested hierarchy that reflects the relationship among different spatial and temporal scales. Within the hierarchy, larger scale variables influence the characteristics of the next lower nested scale. Ecoregions represent one of the largest scales in the fluvial hierarchy and are defined by recurring patterns of geology, climate, land use, soils, and potential natural vegetation. Watersheds, the next largest scale, are often nested into a single ecoregion and therefore have properties that are indicative of a given ecoregion. Differences in watershed morphology (relief, drainage density, circularity ratio, relief ratio, and ruggedness number) were evaluated among three ecoregions in eastern Oklahoma: Ozark Highlands, Boston Mountains, and OuachitaMountains. These ecoregions were selected because of their high-quality stream resources and diverse aquatic communities and are of special management interest to theOklahomaDepartment of Wildlife Conservation. One hundred thirty-four watersheds in first- through fourth-order streams were compared. Using a nonparametric, two-factor analysis of variance (α = 0.05) we concluded that the relief, drainage density, relief ratio, and ruggedness number all changed among ecoregion and stream order, whereas circularity ratio only changed with stream order. Our study shows that ecoregions can be used as a broad-scale framework for watershedmanagement.