As a complex social ecosystem network, the area along the Grand Canal has a prominent contradiction between the demand for economic development and the protection of natural resources, which means that there is an urgent need for ecological restoration and environmental protection. Using ArcGIS, Conefor, Linkage Mapper and other software platforms, this paper developed an integrated analysis framework, through loose coupling of the attribute-function-structure index system and a series of methods such as the least cost path, circuit theory and moving window search. Based on the framework, we resolve a series of scientific issues in developing regional ecological networks, such as the selection of ecological sources, the simulation of potential ecological corridors, the assessment of the importance of ecological sources and corridors, and the identification of key ecological nodes. Moreover, an overall conservation pattern of the regional ecological network is constructed. The results show that: 1) A total of 88 important ecological sources are identified in the study area. The patches with high centrality values are mainly concentrated in the southern mountainous area and the areas with abundant rivers and lakes. 2) A total of 138 important ecological corridors are identified, and they are not evenly distributed. Extremely important corridors mostly appear between important patches, and very important corridors are mainly distributed in the central area. 3) Fifteen ecological pinch points are extracted, and they are mainly concentrated in the northern part of the study area and eastern Zhejiang Province. The barriers are mostly concentrated in the southern and northern parts of the study area. 4) Combining the demands of ecological protection and socioeconomic development, we propose an overall ecological conservation pattern of “one axis, five sections, multiple cores and multiple nodes” to effectively guide future ecological restoration work. These results can provide a useful reference and spatial guidance for decision makers in terms of ecological restoration and cooperation on cross-regional ecological protection along the Grand Canal.
Quantitative assessment of vulnerability is a core aspect of wetland vulnerability research. Taking Baiyangdian (BYD) wetlands in the North China Plain as a study area and using the ‘cause-result’ model, 23 representative indicators from natural, social, sci-tech and economic elements were selected to construct an indicator system. A weight matrix was obtained by using the entropy weight method to calculate the weight value for each indicator. Based on the membership function in the fuzzy evaluation model, the membership degrees were determined to form a fuzzy relation matrix. Finally, the ecological vulnerability was quantitatively assessed based on the comprehensive evaluation index calculated by using a composite operator to combine the entropy weight matrix with the fuzzy relation matrix. The results showed that the ecological vulnerability levels of the BYD wetlands were comprehensively evaluated as Grade II, Grade Ⅲ, Grade IV, and Grade Ⅲ in 2010, 2011-2013, 2014, and 2015-2017, respectively. The ecological vulnerability of the BYD wetlands increased from low fragility in 2010 to general fragility in 2011-2013, and to high fragility in 2014, reflecting the fact that the wetland ecological condition was degenerating from 2010 to 2014. The ecological vulnerability status then turned back into general fragility during 2015-2017, indicating that the ecological situation of the BYD wetlands was starting to improve. However, the ecological status of the BYD wetlands on the whole is relatively less optimistic. The major factors affecting the ecological vulnerability of the BYD wetlands were found to be industrial smoke and dust emission, wetland water area, ammonia nitrogen, total phosphorus, rate of industrial solid wastes disposed, GDP per capita, etc. This illustrates that it is a systematic project to regulate wetland vulnerability and to protect regional ecological security, which may offer researchers and policy-makers specific clues for concrete interventions.
Wetland parks play various ecological roles, including maintaining regional ecological balance, and connoting and compensating water sources. Taking Harbin Qunli National Urban Wetland Park as the research object, the diversity of plant resources in wetland parks is investigated and analyzed with the goal of providing a scientific basis for ecological restoration and the conservation and utilization of urban wetlands. Field survey, sampling and data collection methods were used to study the wetland plant resources and their life types (e.g., vines or shrubs), ecological types and distribution types. The study found 60 families, 129 genera and 160 species of wetland plants in Qunli National Urban Wetland Park, including 56 families, 123 genera and 151 species of angiosperms, which include 48 families, 101 genera and 127 species of dicotyledons and 8 families, 22 genera and 24 species of monocotyledons; 2 families, 2 genera and 3 species of ferns; and 2 families, 4 genera and 6 species of gymnosperms. The family composition is dominated by those families that included 10 or more species, and the dominant families are Compositae and Rosaceae. The genus composition is dominated by genera with four or more species present, and the dominant genera are Acer, Malus and Artemisia. Among the six life types, herbaceous plants are dominant, with a proportion of 62.50% of the species. The ecological types are divided into three categories: wet, mesophytic and aquatic plants, with wet plants accounting for the largest proportion, i.e., 56.25% of the total number of plant species. There are five distribution types of plant families and 10 types of the genera, with both families and genera dominated by the Northern Temperate types, so the flora has obvious temperate characteristics.
In recent decades, the continuous growth in the population has significantly changed the area of human settlements across the globe. The change of human settlements has brought great challenges to human development, environmental change, resource allocation, and disaster prediction and prevention. In the current paper, we integrate data products provided by the European Commission, Joint Research Centre with multi-source remote sensing data to analyze the changing trends of global human settlements under varying geographical distributions from 1990 to 2014. The results demonstrate that on the global scale, human settlements are generally distributed in Europe, East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the eastern United States, the Gulf Coast and the coast of Oceania, with most of them distributed in urban agglomerations and coastal areas. Global human settlements have continued to grow over the past 25 years, mainly in East Asia, Western Europe and the United States. The area of human settlements in eastern Europe has been slightly reduced. The distribution of human settlements is affected by climate, water and terrain conditions. Humans were more likely to have settled in temperate regions with wetter climates, and most of the human settlements are located within 500 km of the coastline and 30 km of land-based water sources. Our results can provide insights into further investigations of the spatio-temporal dynamics of human settlements and its connections to ecological and environmental issues in a changing world.