Biology ETDs


Michael Chang

Publication Date



Food hubs are organizations that manage the aggregation and distribution of local products, and are a small, but growing means to satisfy high demand for diverse, healthy diets. However, economic barriers inhibit small producers and distributors from developing mainstream, local consumer alternatives to industrial-scale products. To build foodshed, distribution hubs could help overcome these challenges by reducing costs through shared refrigeration, processing, and transportation infrastructure. However, there is no theory to help plan them. I present and test theory to allocate foodshed infrastructure based on insight by Dunn, et al. (2011) that Shannon diversity measured relative to a whole set of sites, rather than site-by-site, reveals law-like scaling behavior. I accessed the US Dept of Agricultures 2011 Cropland Data Layer (CDL) for 40 crop cover types at 30 m resolution in New Mexico. I tested two competing hypotheses: 1) a site-specific and 2) a whole-system normalization of crop probabilities interpretable as the information experienced by producers versus a distributor, respectively. Directly edible and marketable crops were differentiated from forage crops for livestock because of the different destinations and infrastructure they require. A distributor with information about the whole foodshed experiences law-like increase in uncertainty with increasing observation scales. Since the distributor uncertainty about an area's crop inventory is an order of magnitude lower than the producers', a distributor should plan infrastructure at a scale that maximizes reduction of a producer's uncertainty. For all crops, I compared their relative contribution to total diversity per unit area so as to compare areas on the landscape with the highest capacity to diversify the foodshed as a whole. Development of a diverse foodshed will require knowledge of which products affect local diversity. This work grounds whole-foodshed planning in ecological theory, and contributes to understanding about how the conventional food system has allocated crop diversity.




Food, Agriculture, Sustainability, Diversity, Entropy, Cropland Data Layer, Hierarchy, Agrobiodiversity--Economic aspects., Sustainable agriculture--Planning., Farms, Small--Management., Food supply--Social aspects., Farmers' markets--Planning., Local foods.

Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

UNM Biology Department

First Committee Member (Chair)

Moses, Melanie

Second Committee Member

Duvall, Chris

Third Committee Member


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Biology Commons