Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2012, Vol. 22 ›› Issue (5): 933-945.doi: 10.1007/s11442-012-0974-6

• Land Use Change • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Reconstruction of cultivated land during mid- Holocene in the middle and lower reaches of Yellow River and human impact on vegetations


  1. 1. MOE Key Laboratory of Tibetan Plateau Environment and Resources, Qinghai Normal University, Xining 810008, China;
    2. State Key Laboratory of Cryosphere Sciences, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, CAS, Lanzhou 730000, China
  • Received:2011-09-03 Revised:2012-05-06 Online:2012-10-15 Published:2013-02-06


Yangshao culture is the most important mid-Holocene Neolithic culture in the Yellow River catchment, and thus, a study on the impact of human activities on the environment is important. In the current study, the distribution pattern of the cultivated land in late Yangshao culture is reconstructed using GIS tool and site domain analysis (SDA). The results show that the cultivated land during 5.5-5.0 ka BP was mainly distributed in the Weihe River valley, Luohe River valley, northwestern Henan Plain, Fenhe River valley and eastern Gansu region, especially concentrated in the Xi’an-Baoji line of the Weihe River valley. At that time, at least 37,000 km2 of lands were reclaimed in the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River, and 132,000 km2 of lands were affected by agricultural activities. Human activities had become the driving force of land use/land coverage. Charcoal records indicate that the ancestors of Yangshao culture burnt forests for reclamation, leading to the decrease of arbor pollen at 5 ka BP in core areas of the Yangshao culture. The areas that were significantly affected by human activities accounted for 3.2% of the Yangshao culture influenced area, while the moderately affected areas accounted for 20.1% of Yangshao culture influenced area. Meanwhile, 92% of the land areas on the edge and outside of the Yangshao culture influenced area were not affected by human activities. The arbor pollen in these areas did not decrease until 4.0 ka BP.

Key words: mid-Holocene, Yangshao culture, cultivated land, human activity and its impact on environment, the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River