25 June 2022, Volume 32 Issue 6 Previous Issue   
Research article
China’s food security situation and key questions in the new era: A perspective of farmland protection
LIANG Xinyuan, JIN Xiaobin, HAN Bo, SUN Rui, XU Weiyi, LI Hanbing, HE Jie, LI Jin
2022, 32 (6):  1001-1019.  doi: 10.1007/s11442-022-1982-9
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As the world’s largest developing country, the ability of China’s agricultural resource utilization to effectively support the current and future food security goals has been affected by a variety of factors (e.g., transformed supply channels, tightening international situation and frequent emergencies) in recent years and has attracted extensive attention from the academic community subject to multiple factors. This study uses literature review, statistical analysis, and spatial analysis methods to systematically explore China’s food security situation in the context of farmland resource constraints. It is found that the demand-side pressures such as demographic changes, social class differentiation, and dietary structure adjustments derived from economic growth and rapid urbanization have placed extremely high expectations on food supply. However, the quantitative restrictions, utilization ways, and health risks of farmland resources on the supply side constitute a huge hidden concern that affects the stability of food production. Although China’s farmland protection system is undergoing a transition from focusing on quantity management to sustainable use, the matching and coordinating demand pressure and supply capacity for food security is unbalanced. Therefore, facing uncertain future development scenarios, policymakers should focus on building a resilient space for China’s farmland protection to withstand the interference of major emergencies. The existing farmland protection space policy can be integrated by establishing a national farmland strategic reserve system (based on resilient space), and further development of targeted use control measures for zoning, grading, and classification will help realize sustainable China’s farmland resources use.

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Spatio-temporal patterns and driving mechanism of farmland fragmentation in the Huang-Huai-Hai Plain
ZHENG Yuhan, LONG Hualou, CHEN Kunqiu
2022, 32 (6):  1020-1038.  doi: 10.1007/s11442-022-1983-8
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Exploring the spatio-temporal variations of farmland landscape patterns in a traditional agricultural region can provide scientific support for decision-making on sustainable rural land use and rural vitalization development. This study established a comprehensive evaluation index for farmland fragmentation with multiple aspects (dominance, integrity, aggregation, regularity, and connectivity) at the county scale. The goal was to identify the evolution of farmland fragmentation in the traditional agricultural region of the Huang-Huai-Hai Plain during 2000-2015 and investigate underlying drivers using panel data of 359 counties. Results showed an accelerating but fluctuating fragmentation pattern of the farmland landscape. The indexes of dominance, integrity, and aggregation of farmland decreased most sharply, while the index of connectivity increased. Furthermore, the evolution of the farmland fragmentation pattern showed significant spatio-temporal heterogeneity, which is similar to the trajectory of urbanization and land use transition. Farmland fragmentation in municipal districts also emerged earlier and was more severe than in county-level cities and counties. Factors influenced by advancing urbanization include the proportion of artificial land, population density, and proportion of primary industry; these factors drove the evolution of farmland fragmentation. In contrast, the increase in income of rural residents and production efficiency of farmland were the key factors contributing to the improvement in farmland connectivity.

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Dynamic changes and transitions of agricultural landscape patterns in mountainous areas: A case study from the hinterland of the Three Gorges Reservoir Area
HUANG Mengqin, LI Yangbing, RAN Caihong, LI Mingzhen
2022, 32 (6):  1039-1058.  doi: 10.1007/s11442-022-1984-7
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Analyzing the agricultural landscape patterns in mountainous areas is critical to clarify the dynamic changes and development direction of agricultural landscapes. This also plays a significant role in the rational planning and management of agricultural land. A theoretical framework for agricultural landscape pattern transitions in mountainous areas is proposed to fill the gap of current research with an empirical study in the Caotangxi Watershed, Three Gorges Reservoir Area (TGRA), China. The transition characteristics of agricultural landscape patterns from 2000 to 2018 as represented by sloping farmland, abandoned land, and orchards are analyzed from a holistic-local perspective. The results indicate that the orchards expanded along river valleys, and abandoned land expanded at high elevations, which led to reduced sloping farmland. This phenomenon gives regional landscape differences at the holistic and local levels. Namely, it enhances the region’s holistic landscape diversity but causes fragmentation and aggregation of landscape patches in local areas. The agricultural landscape pattern transitions within the farming range in the study area are manifested primarily in four modes: sloping farmland-orchard conversion type (FOCT), comprehensive conversion type (CCT), partially abandoned type (PAT), and wholly abandoned type (WAT). Each transition mode reveals different development stages of the mountainous agricultural landscape patterns. In general, the agricultural landscape pattern transition is driven by socioeconomic factors in mountainous areas of the TGRA and is bidirectional. This attribute is expressed as the transition from the traditional grain-planting landscape with an even distribution to the eco-economic win-win orchard in valleys and transitions from sloping farmland to abandoned land in high-elevation areas. Overall, the results of this study reveal the uniqueness of agricultural landscape pattern evolutions in China’s mountainous areas in recent decades, which has enlightened the in-depth understandings of rural land use and agricultural ecosystems in mountainous areas of the TGRA, as well as improvements in rural developments and ecological environments.

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Ecological changes and the tradeoff and synergy of ecosystem services in western China
NIU Linan, SHAO Quanqin, NING Jia, HUANG Haibo
2022, 32 (6):  1059-1075.  doi: 10.1007/s11442-022-1985-6
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Since the implementation of the Development of Western Regions in 2000, a series of major ecological construction projects have been implemented, leading to a series of changes in the ecological conditions and ecological services of western China. This study calculated the amount of ecosystem services in total in the western region from 2000 to 2019, and analyzed ecological changes and the characteristics of spatio-temporal variations in ecological services. A relevant analysis method was applied to explore the tradeoff and synergy of service. It was found that the area of settlements and wetland ecosystems in the western region increased significantly from 2000 to 2015, whereas grassland showed a downward trend year by year. The vegetation fraction showed a decreasing belt-like distribution from south to north. It showed a fluctuating increase during 2000 to 2019, with inter-annual and large spatial differences. The water conservation service (WCS) had a slight downward trend from 2000 to 2019, and the main decreasing areas were distributed in southeastern Tibet, the western part of the Three Rivers Source region, and the karst rocky desertification area. The soil conservation service (SCS) showed an increasing but fluctuating trend, with the greatest increases observed in the Loess Plateau region, western Sichuan and Yunnan, northwest Tibet, and southeast Tibet. The windbreak and sand fixation service (SFS) showed a downward trend, and the sharp decline was mainly in the central and western parts of Inner Mongolia, Tibet and parts of northern Xinjiang. Ecosystem supply and WCS, and SCS were mainly synergistic, which were found in areas north of the Qinling Mountains-Huaihe River (QM-HR) line, especially in Ningxia and Inner Mongolia. Ecosystem supply was mainly tradeoffs with SFS, and it was found in the agriculture-pastoral transition zone. The synergistic degree of ecosystem services in areas subjected to ecological engineering policy was greater than that in non-engineering areas. Quantitative assessment of ecosystem service changes and their tradeoffs is helpful for scientific ecological management and maximizing ecological benefits.

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Spatial non-stationary characteristics between grass yield and its influencing factors in the Ningxia temperate grasslands based on a mixed geographically weighted regression model
SONG Xiaolong, MI Nan, MI Wenbao, LI Longtang
2022, 32 (6):  1076-1102.  doi: 10.1007/s11442-022-1986-5
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Spatial models are effective in obtaining local details on grassland biomass, and their accuracy has important practical significance for the stable management of grasses and livestock. To this end, the present study utilized measured quadrat data of grass yield across different regions in the main growing season of temperate grasslands in Ningxia of China (August 2020), combined with hydrometeorology, elevation, net primary productivity (NPP), and other auxiliary data over the same period. Accordingly, non-stationary characteristics of the spatial scale, and the effects of influencing factors on grass yield were analyzed using a mixed geographically weighted regression (MGWR) model. The results showed that the model was suitable for correlation analysis. The spatial scale of ratio resident-area index (PRI) was the largest, followed by the digital elevation model, NPP, distance from gully, distance from river, average July rainfall, and daily temperature range; whereas the spatial scales of night light, distance from roads, and relative humidity (RH) were the most limited. All influencing factors maintained positive and negative effects on grass yield, save for the strictly negative effect of RH. The regression results revealed a multiscale differential spatial response regularity of different influencing factors on grass yield. Regression parameters revealed that the results of Ordinary least squares (OLS) (Adjusted R2 = 0.642) and geographically weighted regression (GWR) (Adjusted R2 = 0.797) models were worse than those of MGWR (Adjusted R2 = 0.889) models. Based on the results of the RMSE and radius index, the simulation effect also was MGWR > GWR > OLS models. Ultimately, the MGWR model held the strongest prediction performance (R2 = 0.8306). Spatially, the grass yield was high in the south and west, and low in the north and east of the study area. The results of this study provide a new technical support for rapid and accurate estimation of grassland yield to dynamically adjust grazing decision in the semi-arid loess hilly region.

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Water sources for typical desert vegetation in the Ebinur Lake basin
HAO Shuai, LI Fadong
2022, 32 (6):  1103-1118.  doi: 10.1007/s11442-022-1987-4
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In arid and semi-arid environments, desert vegetation plays an important role in preventing soil erosion by wind and helps maintain the stability of desert and oasis ecosystems. Four types of typical desert vegetation, namely Populus euphratica, Haloxylon ammodendron, Nitraria sibirica, and Halostachs caspica, corresponding to different habitats (i.e., river bank, sand dune, desert, and salt marsh) were chosen as the model vegetation in this research. The δ2H and δ18O for rainwater, soil water, and plant water were applied to identify the water sources and quantify the proportions of different water sources used over the entire plant growth period (from March to October). The results showed that the precipitation δ2H and δ18O in the Ebinur Lake basin varied from -142.5‰ to -0.6‰ and from -20.16‰ to 1.20‰, respectively. The largest δ2H and δ18O values occurred in summer and the smallest in winter. The soil water δ2H and δ18O of the four habitats decreased gradually with increasing depth. The δ2H and δ18O values of water extracted from the stems of the four plants had similar variation trends, that is, the maximum was observed in spring and the minimum in summer. Among the four plants, H. caspica had the highest stable isotopic values in the stem water, followed by N. sibirica, H. ammodendron, and P. euphratica. The water sources and utilization ratios of desert vegetation varied across different growth stages. Throughout the growing period, H. ammodendron mainly used groundwater, whereas the water source proportions used by N. sibirica varied greatly throughout the growing season. In spring, plants mainly relied on surface soil water, with a contribution rate of 80%-94%. However, in summer, the proportion of deep soil water used was 31%-36%; and in autumn, the proportion of middle soil water used was 33%-36%. H. caspica mainly relied on topsoil water in spring and autumn, and the proportion of soil water in the middle layer slightly increased to 20%-36% in summer. P. euphratica mainly used intermediate soil water in spring with a utilization rate of 53%-54%. In summer, groundwater was the main source, with a utilization rate of 72%-88%, and only 2%-5% came from river water, whereas in autumn, the river water utilization rate rose to 11%-21%. The results indicated that there were significant differences in water use sources during the growing period for desert vegetation in arid areas. This research provides a theoretical basis for understanding water use mechanisms, water adaptation strategies, and vegetation restoration and management in arid areas.

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Scientific attributes and expression methods of geographical boundary
TANG Guoan, LI Jilong, XIONG Liyang, NA Jiaming
2022, 32 (6):  1119-1135.  doi: 10.1007/s11442-022-1988-3
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A scientific delineation of geographical boundaries reflects the cognitive level of scientific abstraction and systematic analysis of the spatial variation of geographical objects and is a basic scientific issue of geography. From the perspective of earth system science, this study first explicates the core issues (e.g., basic concepts, scientific contents, and basic properties) of geographical boundaries. Based on the principles of scientificity and systematicness, we then classify geographical boundaries in terms of intrinsic mechanisms, extrinsic appearance and scientific attributes. Furthermore, this paper analyzes the mathematical connotation and representation methods of geographical boundaries, discusses the characteristics of and differences between traditional and modern methods for geographical boundary delineation. Finally, we present a framework for a “geographical boundary model” with an integration of qualitative, quantitative, and positioning methods. Focusing on geographical boundary (a basic theoretical problem in geography), this study engaged in concept definition and method analysis, with the findings enriching the theory and methodology of geographical information science.

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Anthropogenic origin of a change in the fire-climate relationship in northern China after ~2000 yr BP: Evidence from a 15,500-year black carbon record from Dali Lake
ZHANG Zhiping, LIU Jianbao, CHEN Shengqian, ZHANG Shanjia, JIA Xin, ZHOU Aifeng, ZHAO Jiaju, CHEN Jie, SHEN Zhongwei, CHEN Fahu
2022, 32 (6):  1136-1156.  doi: 10.1007/s11442-022-1989-2
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There are debates regarding whether a wet and warm climate or a dry and cold climate dominated Holocene fire activity in northern China on the millennial timescale, and when human activities overtook climate change as the dominant control on fire occurrence in the region. Here we present a high-resolution fire history for the past ~15,500 years from a sediment core in Dali Lake, located in the foothills of the Greater Hinggan Mountains, one of the areas of highest fire risk in China. The results demonstrate that fire activity was rare during the last deglaciation (~15,500-11,700 yr BP), gradually increased at the beginning of the Holocene, and reached its highest level during ~9000-5000 yr BP, after which there was a decreasing trend. However, after ~2000 yr BP this decreasing trend ended, and the most prominent feature is a peak in fire activity during the Medieval Warm Period (MWP). Overall, fire activity corresponded well to changes in the East Asian summer monsoon (EASM) precipitation on the millennial timescale during ~15,500-2000 yr BP, but this relationship changed after ~2000 yr BP. We propose that fire activity in northern China on the millennial timescale during ~15,500-2000 yr BP was dominated by the biofuels reserve under the control of the EASM precipitation. In contrast, with the intensification of human activities after ~2000 yr BP, human activity caused a ~62%-73% increase in fire activity, which altered the fire-climate relationship that had previously prevailed in northern China. Our results indicate that a wet-warm climate (increased EASM intensity), rather than a dry-cold climate, was the dominant control on fire activity in northern China during 15,500-2000 yr BP on the millennial timescale, but that human activities played an important role in fire occurrence after ~2000 yr BP.

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Spatiotemporal distribution of sea-island prehistoric dune sites, Holocene sea levels, and aeolian sand activities in Fujian Province, China
JIN Jianhui, LING Zhiyong, LI Zhizhong, ZUO Xinxin, FAN Xuechun, HUANG Yunming, WANG Xiaoyang, WEI Changfu, REN Yongqing, QIU Junjie
2022, 32 (6):  1157-1176.  doi: 10.1007/s11442-022-1990-9
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The lower reaches of the Minjiang River and its adjacent areas were among the most active prehistoric archaeological areas in Fujian Province. The accumulation types of Neolithic archaeological strata are roughly divided into dune sites and dune/shell mound sites. The sites can also be roughly divided into estuarine, coastal, and sea-island sites based on their geomorphic features. The cultural development of these prehistoric sites is of great significance for understanding the migration and spread of Austronesian civilization. Based on luminescence dating of typical Neolithic sites on Haitan Island, their quartz-OSL (optically stimulated luminecesence) burial ages were determined. Synthesizing previously published results, the temporospatial distribution characteristics of the sea-island sites on Haitan Island are discussed, and the relationship between Neolithic human activities and regional geomorphic processes is analyzed. The results show that: (1) the spatial and temporal distribution of the Haitan Island Neolithic sites are closely related to small-scale geomorphic features and are controlled by mesoscale geomorphic processes. The sites were mainly distributed in the foothills of two high hills along an NNE-SSW trend. With an increase in altitude, the features were distributed as “single site (I) - superimposed site - single site (II)” and appear successively. Single type sites (I) mainly appeared at low sea level, whereas single type sites (II) mainly appeared at high sea level. Superimposed sites were not subject to sea level changes. The relative elevation of the superimposed sites in the study area indicates the optimal residential area for human activities in the region. The single site with an elevation lower than the optimal residential area was mainly restricted by the lowest residential area, whereas the single site at a higher elevation than the optimal residential area was mainly affected by livelihood patterns. (2) High sea level caused by the “backwater effect” in low latitude areas in the southern hemisphere, and coastal aeolian sand activity influenced by sea level fluctuations in the middle Holocene correspond well with human activities recorded in the cultural stratigraphy of sea-island type sites. The altitude of coastal aeolian sand accumulation can be used as an indirect index to estimate the age of coastal dunes.

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Glacier area changes in the Nujiang-Salween River Basin over the past 45 years
JI Xuan, CHEN Yunfang, JIANG Wei, LIU Chang, YANG Luyi
2022, 32 (6):  1177-1200.  doi: 10.1007/s11442-022-1991-8
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Automated image classification and visual interpretation of Landsat imagery were used to extract the glacier boundary in the Nujiang-Salween River Basin (NSRB) around the years 1975, 2000, and 2020. The spatiotemporal characteristics of glacier area changes in the NSRB were determined and the reasons for the spatial heterogeneity in glacier area changes were discussed, based on comparative analyses of temperature and precipitation data from meteorological stations around the NSRB. The results indicate that 1) the total glacier area in the NSRB decreased by 477.78 km² (28.17%) at a rate of -0.62%/a in 1975-2020. Most shrinkage occurred at low and mid altitudes, with the most severe occurring at 5290-5540 m, accounting for 40% of the total shrinkage. Considering other river basins in China, the relative glacier area change rate in the NSRB was similar to that for typical inland river basins in northwest China but lower than that for other transboundary river basins in the southeastern Tibetan Plateau. 2) These areal changes in the NSRB presented obvious regional differences. The glaciers in the Hengduan Mountains retreated significantly, followed by those in the Nyainqentanglha Mountains, with relatively low shrinkage observed in the Tanggula Mountains. The number of cold and hot spots indicating areal changes increased after 2000, along with their spatial heterogeneity. 3) The glacier shrinkage rate over different time intervals was positively correlated with temperature. Thus, spatial heterogeneity of climate change effects could elucidate differences in the glacier area change rate in different regions of the NSRB. The temperature rise was determined as the primary reason for the significant glacial retreat over the past 45 years. As the significant warming trend continues, the glacier area in the NSRB is likely to shrink further.

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