Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2023, Vol. 33 ›› Issue (6): 1205-1225.doi: 10.1007/s11442-023-2126-6

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

How to identify transitional geospace in mountainous areas? An approach using a transitional index from the perspective of coupled human and natural systems

DENG Wei1,2,3(), ZHANG Hao2,3,*(), ZHANG Shaoyao1, WANG Zhanyun2,3, HU Maogui4, PENG Li1   

  1. 1. College of Geography and Resources, Sichuan Normal University, Chengdu 610101, China
    2. Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS, Chengdu 610041, China
    3. School of Resources and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
    4. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
  • Received:2022-05-07 Accepted:2023-02-21 Online:2023-06-25 Published:2023-06-26
  • Contact: *Zhang Hao, PhD Candidate, E-mail:
  • About author:Deng Wei, PhD and Professor, E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    The Key Programme of National Natural Science Foundation of China(41930651)


The coupling of humans and nature differs in terms of distribution and intensity, thus producing a gradient of synthetic geographical environments. Within this variety of gradients, the transitional zone represents a complex space where dynamic processes and unstable conditions are observed. Based on the concepts of ecotone and transitional zone, we propose a conceptual framework for the transitional geospace of coupled human and natural systems and a quantitative identification method for the zone. Taking the Sichuan Basin as an example, this study defined the strength and direction of the coupling of the natural ecosystem and socioeconomic system and divided different types of transitional geospace. The transitional geo- space of the strong coupling type accounted for approximately 16.7% of the study area. Nine of the ten counties with the largest proportion of the type were formerly nationally poor counties in the study area. In the strong coupling type, human and nature jointly explained a high proportion of the variance in transitional stability (e.g., in Shifang city, with an unexplained proportion of 1.7%). The discovery and characterization of the transitional geospace types is crucial for facilitating more effective land use planning and sustainable balance among the population, resources, and environment.

Key words: land use change, urbanization, coupled human and nature, transition area, mountainous areas