Chin J Plan Ecolo ›› 2015, Vol. 39 ›› Issue (11): 1053-1061.DOI: 10.17521/cjpe.2015.0102

Special Issue: 遥感生态学

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Spatial pattern of riparian vegetation in desert of the lower Tarim River basin

ZHU Xu-Chao1,2, YUAN Guo-Fu1,*(), SHAO Ming-An1,4, YI Xiao-Bo3, DU Tao1,2   

  1. 1Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
    2University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
    3State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess Plateau, Northwest A & F University, Yangling, Shaanxi 712100, China
    4College of Resources and Environment, Northwest A & F University, Yangling, Shaanxi 712100, China
  • Online:2015-11-01 Published:2015-12-02
  • Contact: Guo-Fu YUAN
  • About author:# Co-first authors


AimsRevealing the spatial pattern of riparian vegetation in hyper-arid regions can improve our understanding on the water relations of riparian vegetation in the desert watershed ecosystem, and also can provide valuable scientific guidance for desertification control and water resources management of watershed of the arid region in northwestern China. This research objective is to show the spatial distribution and structures of typical riparian vegetation in hyper-arid desert watershed from regional and overall perspective.Methods Based on Landsat-8 OLI remote sensing images and a large number of field vegetation surveys, the supervised classification method was used to distinguish three main vegetation categories in the lower Tarim River basin: Tamarix thicket, Populus euphratica woodland, and Phragmites australis grassland. The leaf area index (LAI) of Tamarix thickets and Populus euphratica woodlands were inverted by using the remote-sensed LAI inversion empirical model that we developed.Important findings Supervised classification supporting abundant information of ground objects by remote sensing was an effective method to determine desert riparian vegetation categories in arid desert regions. The area was 336.4 km2 for the Populus euphratica woodlands and 405.3 km2 for the Tamarix thickets, respectively. The Tamarix thickets had a wider distribution range while the Populus euphratica woodlands grew near the river channel. The overall LAI of the riparian vegetation was low. The average LAI value was 0.253 for the Tamarix thickets and 0.252 for the Populus euphratica woodlands. The areas of vegetation with the LAI value of less than 0.5 accounted for 92.4% and 90.1% of the total area of the Tamarix thickets and the Populus euphratica woodlands, respectively. The statistic results showed that large spatial variability of the riparian vegetation LAI existed. The spatial variability of the Populus euphratica woodlands was larger than that of the Tamarix thickets. The LAI values of the riparian vegetation had a significant negative exponential relationship with the distances away from the river channel. The LAI values declined rapidly within the distance of 1 km from the river channel and they were generally lower than 0.1 when the distances beyond 1 km, which indicated that the riparian vegetation was mainly distributed within 1 km from both side of the river. This research indicated three basic characteristics of the spatial pattern in riparian vegetation from hyper-arid desert regions, including overall sparse spatial distribution, high spatial variability and negative exponential relationship between LAI and distance away from the river channel.

Key words: hyper-arid region, riparian vegetations, leaf area index, spatial pattern, supervised classification, lower Tarim River basin