Based on multiple remote-sensing image interpretation and classification, and economic and social data, this study focused on rural settlement and land use change amidst rapid urbanization. Rural settlements, spatial and temporal patterns of land use and influencing factors in the Bohai Rim were explored within 5×5 km grid cells, as per GIS spatial analysis and geostatistical analysis. Results show that the spatial distribution of rural settlements in the Bohai Rim is remarkably varied. The number of rural settlement sites in a 5×5 km grid cell exceeding 5.0 are distributed in a six-area pattern in the Bohai Rim; rural settlement dispersion is particularly high in agricultural regions in south Hebei and southwest Shandong, suggesting rural settlement density keeps increasing from northeast to southwest, characterized by high density and dispersed spatial distribution in traditional agricultural regions. Furthermore, rural settlements show dramatic spatial differences in terms of distribution and dynamic change degrees in the Bohai Rim. In terms of spatial distribution, rural residential land is always extensive in plains, with a high density of rural settlements, on the North China Plain in particular, and rural residential land in the south of Shandong province is also extensive, with most rural settlement land use areas in the 5×5 km grid cells exceeding 3 km2. However, traditional agricultural regions have underdeveloped economies, industrialization and tertiary industries, characterized by low urbanization rates, with farmers not feeling assimilated in rural or urban areas. In terms of the temporal sequence, urban expansion rapidly promotes the transformation of rural residential lands in rural-urban transitional belts of provincial capital or prefecture-level city into urban lands, and in traditional rural areas, residential lands are growing. The natural environment, transportation conditions, economic development and farmers’ incomes all have effects on type of land use change and pattern of rural settlements. It is a core objective for future rural development to reconstruct a rational spatial pattern of villages or towns and well-organized village-town systems, build central villages, key towns or central towns, optimize or reconstruct production, living and eco-space of rural areas. It is of significance for rural geographical research to further interpret and explore spatial reconstruction theory.
rural residential lands influence mechanism rural geography Bohai Rim China