The Physical Environment

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The Physical Environment

Physical geography analyzes the Earth's environment from the perspectives of biogeography, geomorphology and climatology. Physical geographers at MU focus primarily on connections between vegetation, streams, and a changing climate, with a particular emphasis on the human role in modifying these natural systems:


The human role in changing the physical landscapes of the American Midwest

· Cowell, C.M. and Jackson, M.T. (2002) Vegetation change in a forest remnant at the eastern presettlement prairie margin. Natural Areas Journal 22: 53-60.

· Urban, M. A. and B. L. Rhoads (2003) Catastrophic human-induced change in stream channel planform and geometry in an agricultural watershed, Illinois, USA. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 93: 783-796.

· Rouse, Karen (2005) The impacts of dam closure on downstream wetlands: A headwater perspective. Masters Thesis, University of Missouri.

· Hunt, Kevin (2009) Land Cover Change (1815 to 2007) in the Central Missouri River Hills. Masters Thesis, University of Missouri.


Modification of rivers and its ecological impacts

· Chin, Anne., Melinda D. Daniels, Michael A. Urban, et al. (2008) Perceptions of Wood in Rivers and Challenges for Stream Restoration in the United States. Environmental Management 41 (6): 893-903.

· Cowell, C.M. and Dyer, J. M. (2002) Vegetation development in a modified riparian environment: Human imprints on an Allegheny River wilderness. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 92:189-202.

· Cowell, C.M. and Stoudt, R. (2002) Dam-induced modifications to upper Allegheny River streamflow and their biodiversity implications. Journal of the American Water Resources Association 38: 1-10.

· Urban, Michael A., and M. Daniels (2006) Exploring the links between Geomorphology and Ecology. Geomorphology Special Issue - Linking Geomorphology and Ecology, ed. M.A. Urban, M. Daniels, and M. Doyle. 77: 203-206.

Vegetation change from presettlement to present

· M.J. Batek, A.J. Rebertus, W.A .Schroeder, T.L. Haithcoat, E. Compas, and R.P. Guyette. (1999) Reconstruction of early nineteenth-century vegetation and fire regimes in the Missouri Ozarks." Journal of Biogeography 26:397-412.

· Elliott, G.P. and Larson, E.R. 2009. Disturbance and successional dynamics in an old-growth white pine-mixed hardwood forest in the Great Lakes region of Minnesota. The Geographical Bulletin 50: 17–35.

· Cowell, C.M. and Hayes, J.J. (2007) Structure, history and dynamics of a mature oak-beech forest in western Indiana. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 134: 215-222.

· Holmes, Trent (2006) Four Decades of Change in an Old-growth Beech-Maple Forest in Indiana. Masters Thesis, University of Missouri.

· Hamilton, Jennifer (2003) Historic Distribution of Shortleaf Pine in the Missouri Ozarks. Masters Thesis, University of Missouri.

· Elliott, G.P. and Baker, W.L. 2004. Quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.) at treeline: a century of change in the San Juan Mountains, Colorado, U.S.A. Journal of Biogeography, 31: 733–745.

· Cowell, C.M. (1998) Historical Change in Vegetation and Disturbance on the Georgia Piedmont. American Midland Naturalist 140:78-89.

Climatic controls of vegetation distribution

· Elliott, G.P. and Kipfmueller, K.F. 2009. Multi-scale influences of slope aspect and spatial pattern on ecotonal dynamics at upper treeline in the Southern Rocky Mountains, USA. Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research.

· Ziegler, S.S., Larson, E.R., Rauchfuss, J., and Elliott, G.P. 2008. Tree establishment during dry spells at an oak savanna in Minnesota. Tree-Ring Research 64: 53–60.