Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2022, Vol. 32 ›› Issue (1): 44-64.doi: 10.1007/s11442-022-1935-3

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The coupling relationship between urbanization and ecological resilience in the Pearl River Delta

WANG Shaojian(), CUI Zitian, LIN Jingjie, XIE Jinyan, SU Kun   

  1. Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Urbanization and Geo-simulation, School of Geography and Planning, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
  • Received:2021-03-01 Accepted:2021-12-18 Online:2022-01-25 Published:2022-03-25
  • About author:Wang Shaojian (1986-), Associate Professor, specialized in urban geography and regional development. E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    Ministry of Education Humanities Social Sciences Research Project(21YJAZH087);Guangdong Special Support Program; Pearl River S&T Nova Program of Guangzhou(201806010187)


Urban resilience is an emerging research topic of urban studies, and its essence is described by the ability of cities to resist, recover, and adapt to uncertain disturbances. This paper constructs a “Size-Density-Morphology” urban ecological resilience evaluation system, uses a coupling coordination degree model to measure the degree of coupling coordination between urbanization and ecological resilience in the Pearl River Delta from 2000 to 2015, and conducts an in-depth discussion on its spatiotemporal characteristics. The results show the following. (1) From 2000 to 2015, the urbanization level of cities in the study area generally increased while the level of ecological resilience declined. The coupling coordination degree between the two systems decreased from basic coordination to basic imbalance. (2) In terms of spatial distribution, the coupling coordination degree between urbanization and ecological resilience of cities presented a circular pattern that centered on the cities at the estuary of the Pearl River and increased toward the periphery. (3) Ecological resilience sub-systems played variable roles in the coupling coordination between urbanization and ecological resilience. Specifically, size resilience mainly played a reverse blocking role; the influence of morphology resilience was generally positive and continued to increase over time; the effect of density resilience was positive and continued to decline and further became negative after falling below zero. The main pathways for achieving coordinated and sustainable development of future urbanization and ecological resilience in the Pearl River Delta include: leading the coordinated development of regions with new urbanization, improving ecological resilience by strictly observing the three areas and three lines, adapting to ecological carrying capacity, and rationally arranging urban green spaces.

Key words: urbanization, ecological resilience, size resilience, density resilience, morphology resilience, coupling coordination model, Pearl River Delta