Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Jonathan Phillips


Several studies in hydrology have reported differences in outcomes between models in which spatial autocorrelation (SAC) is accounted for and those in which SAC is not. However, the capacity to predict the magnitude of such differences is still ambiguous. In this thesis, I hypothesized that SAC, inherently possessed by a response variable, influences spatial modeling outcomes. I selected ten watersheds in the USA and analyzed them to determine whether water quality variables with higher Moran’s I values undergo greater increases in the coefficient of determination (R²) and greater decreases in residual SAC (rSAC) after spatial modeling. I compared non-spatial ordinary least squares to two spatial regression approaches, namely, spatial lag and error models. The predictors were the principal components of topographic, land cover, and soil group variables. The results revealed that water quality variables with higher inherent SAC showed more substantial increases in R² and decreases in rSAC after performing spatial regressions. In this study, I found a generally linear relationship between the spatial model outcomes (R² and rSAC) and the degree of SAC in each water quality variable. I suggest that the inherent level of SAC in response variables can predict improvements in models before spatial regression is performed. The benefits of this study go beyond modeling selection and performance, it has the potential to uncover hydrologic connectivity patterns that can serve as insights to water quality managers and policy makers.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)