Basin-wide distribution of land use and human population: Stream order modeling and river basin classification in Japan

Hitoshi Miyamoto, Tsubasa Hashimoto, Kohji Michioku

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents a mathematical model developed using Horton-Strahler's stream order to describe basin-wide distributions of human activities, i.e., land use and human population, across several river basins with different geomorphologic features. We assume that for successive stream orders, the mean area of each land use type-paddy field, forest, city, village, etc.-and the human population form a geometric sequence, which is the same mathematical relationship as stated in Horton's laws of river geomorphology. This geometric sequence modeling implies fractal nature of human activity distributions within a river basin. GIS datasets for the land use and human population in 109 large river basins in Japan were used to verify the model. Herein, we examine the relationships between the Horton ratios and the common ratios obtained from the model to explore links between basin geomorphology and human activities. Furthermore, we quantitatively compare the human activity distributions across the 109 river basins on the basis of results obtained from the model with descriptive statistics. Further, we attempt to classify the river basins into several categories through multivariate statistical analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)885-898
Number of pages14
JournalEnvironmental Management
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2011 May
Externally publishedYes


  • Basin geomorphology
  • Freshwater resources
  • Geometric sequence model
  • Horton-Strahler's stream order
  • Human activity
  • River basin environment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology
  • Pollution


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