Chin J Plant Ecol ›› 2021, Vol. 45 ›› Issue (8): 809-817.DOI: 10.17521/cjpe.2021.0065

Special Issue: 生态学研究的方法和技术

• Research Articles •     Next Articles

Principles of color and symbol design for vegetation mapping and a scheme of national vegetation map legends

JIA Ning-Xia1,2, GUO Ke1,2,*(), SONG Chuang-Ye1, LIU Chang-Cheng1   

  1. 1State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental Change, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093, China
    2University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2021-02-25 Revised:2021-04-25 Online:2021-08-20 Published:2021-11-18
  • Contact: GUO Ke
  • Supported by:
    Second Tibetan Plateau Scientific Expedition and Research (STEP) Program(2019QZKK0301);Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences(XDA19050402)


Aims Various colors combined with symbols are usually employed to differentiate vegetation types in vegetation mapping, aiming to convey the vegetation information to readers more visually and clearly. How to differentiate vegetation types by appropriate setting of color and symbol is a key step in vegetation mapping, especially for regions with diverse vegetation types. Usually, vegetation map legends are based on the vegetation classification system. Recently, the vegetation classification system of China has been revised according to the achievements in vegetation surveys and research over the past decade. Therefore, it is necessary to put forward a new color and symbol setting scheme for vegetation mapping. Our objective is to improve the scientificity and artistry of current vegetation mapping.
Methods The principles of color and symbol setting of existing vegetation maps and other thematic maps were summarized. Based on the principles of systematicness, scientificity and symbolism, the changes and combinations of the three color attributes (hue, lightness and saturation) and the basic visual variables (shape, size, direction, color, density and brightness) of the symbols were taken in consideration for the national vegetation map legends. In the legends, Vegetation Formation Groups were differentiated by hues, and Vegetation Formations and Vegetation Subformations were represented by different lightnesses and saturations. In addition, different symbols attached to the colors were employed to distinguish vegetation types. The colors and symbols were designed to reflect the physiognomy and habitats of the vegetation types as much as possible.
Important findings The principles of color and symbol setting for vegetation mapping and a new scheme of national vegetation map legends were presented. These results would provide guideline for vegetation cartographer to set the legends of the new Chinese vegetation map (1:500 000).

Key words: color matching principle, legend design, symbol design, vegetation mapping