Table of Content

    10 January 2018, Volume 28 Issue 1 Previous Issue    Next Issue
    Research Articles
    Links between Western Pacific Subtropical High and vegetation growth in China
    Mei HUANG, Man HAO, Shaoqiang WANG, Li DAN, Fengxue GU, Zhaosheng WANG, He GONG
    2018, 28 (1):  3-14.  doi: 10.1007/s11442-018-1455-3
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    There is a lack of simple ways to predict the vegetation responses to the East Asian Monsoon (EAM) variability in China due to the complexity of the monsoon system. In this study, we found the variation of the Western Pacific Subtropical High (WPSH), which is one of the major components of the EAM, has a profound influence on the vegetation growth in China. When the WPSH is located more to the west of its climate average, the eastern and northwestern parts experience increased yearly-averaged normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) and gross primary productivity (GPP) by 0.3%-2.2%, and 0.2%-2.2%, respectively. In contrast, when the WPSH is located more to the east of its climate average, the above areas experience decreased yearly-averaged NDVI and GPP by 0.4% to 1.6%, and 1.3% to 4.5%, respectively. The WPSH serves as a major circulation index to predict the response of vegetation to monsoon.

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    Latitudinal patterns and influencing factors of soil humic carbon fractions from tropical to temperate forests
    Li XU, Chunyan WANG, Jianxing ZHU, Yang GAO, Meiling LI, Yuliang LV, Guirui YU, Nianpeng HE
    2018, 28 (1):  15-30.  doi: 10.1007/s11442-018-1456-2
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    Soil humic carbon is an important component of soil organic carbon (SOC) in terrestrial ecosystems. However, no study to date has investigated its geographical patterns and the main factors that influence it at a large scale, despite the fact that it is critical for exploring the influence of climate change on soil C storage and turnover. We measured levels of SOC, humic acid carbon (HAC), fulvic acid carbon (FAC), humin carbon (HUC), and extractable humus carbon (HEC) in the 0-10 cm soil layer in nine typical forests along the 3800-km North-South Transect of Eastern China (NSTEC) to elucidate the latitudinal patterns of soil humic carbon fractions and their main influencing factors. SOC, HAC, FAC, HUC, and HEC increased with increasing latitude (all P<0.001), and exhibited a general trend of tropical < subtropical < temperate. The ratios of humic C fractions to SOC were 9.48%-12.27% (HAC), 20.68%-29.31% (FAC), and 59.37%-61.38% (HUC). Climate, soil texture, and soil microbes jointly explained more than 90% of the latitudinal variation in SOC, HAC, FAC, HEC, and HUC, and interactive effects were important. These findings elucidate latitudinal patterns of soil humic C fractions in forests at a large scale, and may improve models of soil C turnover and storage.

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    Determinants and identification of the northern boundary of China’s tropical zone
    Qian XU, Yuxiang DONG, Yuying WANG, Ren YANG, Chengdong XU
    2018, 28 (1):  31-45.  doi: 10.1007/s11442-018-1457-1
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    The influence of monsoon climatic characteristics makes the tropics of China different from those of other parts of the world. Therefore, the location of the northern boundary of China’s tropical zone has been one of the most controversial issues in the study of comprehensive physical regionalisation in China. This paper introduces developments in the study of the northern boundary of China’s tropical zone, in which different scholars delimit the boundary with great differences based on different regionalisation objectives, indexes, and methods. The main divergence of opinion is found in different understandings of zonal vegetation, agricultural vegetation type, cropping systems, tropical soil type and tropical characteristics. In this study, we applied the GeoDetector model, which measures the spatial stratified heterogeneity, to validate the northern boundaries of the tropical zone delimited by six principal scholars. The results show that the mean q-statistic value of the higher latitude boundary delimited by Ren Mei’e is the largest (q=0.37), suggesting that, of the rival views, it best reflects the regional differences between China’s tropical and subtropical zones, but it is not necessarily suitable for guiding the development of tropical agriculture. The mean values of the q-statistics of Zheng Du’s line and Yu Xianfang’s line around the Leizhou Peninsula at a lower latitude were smaller, at 0.10 and 0.08 respectively, indicating that the regional differences were smaller than those of Ren Mei’e’s boundary. Against the background of global climate change, the climate itself is changing in fluctuation. It is, thus, worth our further research whether the northern boundary of the tropical zone should not be a fixed line but rather should fluctuate within a certain scope to reflect these changes.

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    Regional differentiation of ecological conservation and its zonal suitability at the county level in China
    Lin HUANG, Yuhan ZHENG, Tong XIAO
    2018, 28 (1):  46-58.  doi: 10.1007/s11442-018-1458-0
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    China’s investments, financial incentives and deductions in terms of ecological conservation are based at the county level. Therefore, the monitoring and assessment of the effects of ecological conservation at the county level is important to provide a scientific basis for the assessment of the ecological and environmental quality at the county scale. This paper quantitatively estimated the dynamics of high-quality ecosystems and vegetation coverage over the past 15 years, and their relationships with the number of ecological conservation programs at the county level were analyzed. Then, the effects of ecological conservation measures on ecological changes at the county level and their regional suitability were assessed and discussed. The results showed that counties with a percentage of high-quality ecosystems greater than 50% were primarily distributed in northeastern China, southern subtropical China and the southeastern Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, and those with a percentage lower than 20% were mostly distributed in northwestern China, the southwestern karst region and the North China Plain. In recent decades, ecological conservation has focused on ecologically fragile regions; more than five ecological conservation programs have been implemented in most counties of the Three River Source Region in Qinghai Province, southeastern Tibet, western Sichuan, the Qilian Mountains, southern Xinjiang and other western regions, while only one or zero have been implemented in the eastern coastal area of China. Over the past 15 years, the proportional area of high-quality ecosystems has increased in approximately 53% of counties. The vegetation coverage of counties in the Loess Plateau, Huang-Huai-Hai Plain, Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei (Jing-Jin-Ji), Sichuan-Guizhou-Chongqing, and Guangdong-Guangxi provincial-level areas has increased significantly. However, it decreased in northern Xinjiang, central Tibet, central and eastern Inner Mongolia, the Yangtze River Delta and other regions. The relationships between the numbers of ecological conservation programs and the indicators of ecosystem restoration response, such as high-quality ecosystem and vegetation coverage, do not show positive correlations. These results suggest that ecological conservation programs should be planned and implemented according to the distribution patterns of high-quality ecosystems and that restoration measures such as afforestation should follow natural principles and regional differentiation under the background of climate change.

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    The effects of vegetation on runoff and soil loss:Multidimensional structure analysis and scale characteristics
    Jianbo LIU, Guangyao GAO, Shuai WANG, Lei JIAO, Xing WU, Bojie FU
    2018, 28 (1):  59-78.  doi: 10.1007/s11442-018-1459-z
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    This review summarizes the effects of vegetation on runoff and soil loss in three dimensions: vertical vegetation structures (aboveground vegetation cover, surface litter layer and underground roots), plant diversity, vegetation patterns and their scale characteristics. Quantitative relationships between vegetation factors with runoff and soil loss are described. A framework for describing relationships involving vegetation, erosion and scale is proposed. The relative importance of each vegetation dimension for various erosion processes changes across scales. With the development of erosion features (i.e., splash, interrill, rill and gully), the main factor of vertical vegetation structures in controlling runoff and soil loss changes from aboveground biomass to roots. Plant diversity levels are correlated with vertical vegetation structures and play a key role at small scales, while vegetation patterns also maintain a critical function across scales (i.e., patch, slope, catchment and basin/region). Several topics for future study are proposed in this review, such as to determine efficient vegetation architectures for ecological restoration, to consider the dynamics of vegetation patterns, and to identify the interactions involving the three dimensions of vegetation.

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    The influence of climate change and human activities on runoff in the middle reaches of the Huaihe River Basin, China
    Chao GAO, Tian RUAN
    2018, 28 (1):  79-92.  doi: 10.1007/s11442-018-1460-6
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    This study presents a soil and water integrated model (SWIM) and associated statistical analyses for the Huaihe River Basin (HRB) based on daily meteorological, river runoff, and water resource data encompassing the period between 1959 and 2015. The aim of this research is to quantitatively analyze the rate of contribution of upstream runoff to that of the midstream as well as the influence of climate change and human activities in this section of the river. Our goal is to explain why extreme precipitation is concentrated in the upper reaches of the HRB while floods tend to occur frequently in the middle reaches of this river basin. Results show that the rate of contribution of precipitation to runoff in the upper reaches of the HRB is significantly higher than temperature. Data show that the maximum contribution rate of upstream runoff to that of the midstream can be as high as 2.23%, while the contribution of temperature is just 0.38%. In contrast, the rate of contribution of human activities to runoff is 87.20% in the middle reaches of the HRB, while that due to climate change is 12.80%. Frequent flood disasters therefore occur in the middle reaches of the HRB because of the combined effects of extreme precipitation in the upper reaches and human activities in the middle sections.

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    Analysis of the coupled relationship between grain
    yields and agricultural labor changes in China
    Dazhuan GE, Hualou LONG, Yingnan ZHANG, Shuangshuang TU
    2018, 28 (1):  93-108.  doi: 10.1007/s11442-018-1461-5
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    In this paper we establish a model that expresses the coupled relationship between grain yield and agricultural labor changes in China, and present a preliminary discussion of the coupled processes involved in changes in these factors at the county level. Thus, we develop two coefficients on the basis of county-level statistical data for grain yield and agricultural labor for the years 1991, 2000, and 2010, namely, the grain-labor elasticity coefficient (GLEC) and the agricultural labor-transfer effect coefficient (ALTEC). The results of this study show that during the transformation process of agricultural development in China, different kinds of coupled relationships between grain yield and agricultural labor changes co-existed at the same time. For example, between 1991 and 2010, counties characterized by three different coupled modes (i.e., increasing grain yield and decreasing agricultural labor, increasing grain yield and agricultural labor, and decreasing grain yield and agricultural labor) account for 48.85%, 29.11%, and 19.74% of the total across the study area, respectively. Interestingly, a coupled relationship between increasing grain yield and decreasing agricultural labor is mainly concentrated in the traditional farming areas of China, while a coupled relationship between increasing grain yield and agricultural labor is primarily concentrated in pastoral areas and agro-pastoral ecotones in underdeveloped western China. At the same time, a coupled relationship between decreasing grain yield and agricultural labor is concentrated in areas that have experienced a rapid development transition in agriculture, especially the developed southeastern coast of China. The results of this study also show that between 1991 and 2010, 1961 counties experienced a decline in the proportion of agricultural labor; of these, 1452 are also characterized by increasing grain yield, 72.38% of the total. This coupled relationship between grain yield and changes in the proportion of agricultural labor shows a stepped fluctuation and has continually strengthened over time. Data show that mean values for the GLEC and ALTEC increased from -0.25 and -2.93 between 1991 and 2000 to -0.16 and -1.78 between 2000 and 2010, respectively. These changes in GLEC and ALTEC illustrate that the influence of agricultural labor changes on increasing grain yields has gradually diminished. Finally, the results of this study reveal that the ‘Hu Huanyong Line’ is a significant boundary sub-dividing this coupled relationship between grain yield and changes in agricultural labor.

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    Examining urban land-cover characteristics and ecological regulation during the construction of Xiong’an New District, Hebei Province, China
    Wenhui KUANG, Tianrong YANG, Fengqin YAN
    2018, 28 (1):  109-123.  doi: 10.1007/s11442-018-1462-4
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    Development of Xiong'an New District (XND) is integral to the implementation of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei (BTH) Integration Initiative. It is intended to ease the non-capital functions of Beijing, optimize regional spatial patterns, and enhance ecosystem services and living environment in this urban agglomeration. Applying multi-stage remote sensing (RS) images, land use/cover change (LUCC) data, ecosystem services assessment data, and high-precision urban land-cover information, we reveal the regional land-cover characteristics of this new district as well as across the planned area of the entire BTH urban agglomeration. Corresponding ecological protection and management strategies are also proposed. Results indicated that built-up areas were rapidly expanding, leading to a continuous impervious surface at high density. Urban and impervious surface areas (ISAs) grew at rates 1.27 and 1.43 times higher than that in the 2000s, respectively, seriously affecting about 15% area of the sub-basins. Construction of XND mainly encompasses Xiongxian, Rongcheng, and Anxin counties, areas which predominantly comprise farmland, townships and rural settlements, water, and wetland ecosystems. The development and construction of XND should ease the non-capital functions of Beijing, as well as moderately control population and industrial growth. Thus, this development should be included within the national ‘sponge city’ construction pilot area in early planning stages, and reference should be made to international low-impact development modes in order to strengthen urban green infrastructural construction. Early stage planning based on the existing characteristics of the underlying surface should consider the construction of green ecological patches and ecological corridors between XND and the cities of Baoding, Beijing, and Tianjin. The proportion of impervious surfaces should not exceed 60%, while that of the core area should not exceed 70%. The development of XND needs to initiate the concept of ‘planning a city according to water resource amount’ and incorporate rainwater collection and recycling.

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    Academic information
    Report on the First IGU-AGLE Commission Conference on Global Rural Development and Land Capacity Building
    Yuanyuan YANG, Yuheng LI, Hualou LONG
    2018, 28 (1):  124-128.  doi: 10.1007/s11442-018-1463-3
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