Environmental Management

, Volume 51, Issue 1, pp 45–58 | Cite as

Effect of Land-Use Patterns on Total Nitrogen Concentration in the Upstream Regions of the Haihe River Basin, China

  • Ranhao Sun
  • Liding ChenEmail author
  • Wenlin Chen
  • Yuhe Ji


Nutrient loading into rivers is generally increased by human-induced land-use changes and can lead to increased surface water pollution. Understanding the extent to which land-use patterns influence nutrient loading is critical to the development of best-management practices aimed at water-quality improvement. In this study, we investigated total nitrogen (total N) concentration as a function of land-use patterns and compared the relative significance of the identified land-use variables for 26 upstream watersheds of the Haihe River basin. Seven land-use intensity and nine landscape complexity variables were selected to form the land-use pattern metrics on the landscape scale. After analyzing the significance of the land-use pattern metrics, we obtained five dominant principal components: human-induced land-use intensity, landscape patch-area complexity, area-weighted landscape patch-shape complexity, forest and grassland area, and landscape patch-shape complexity. A linear regression model with a stepwise selection protocol was used to identify an optimal set of land-use pattern predictors. The resulting contributions to the total N concentration were 50% (human-induced land-use intensity), 23.13% (landscape patch-shape complexity), 14.38% (forest and grassland area), and 12.50% (landscape patch-area complexity), respectively. The regression model using land-use measurements can explain 87% of total N variability in the upstream regions of Haihe River. The results indicated that human-related land-use factors, such as residential areas, population, and road density, had the most significant effect on N concentration. The agricultural area (30.1% of the study region) was not found to be significantly correlated with total N concentration due to little irrigative farmland and rainfall. Results of the study could help us understand the implications of potential land-use changes that often occur as a result of the rapid development in China.


Total nitrogen Landscape metrics Land-use intensity Multivariate regression Principle component analysis Haihe River basin 



The authors thank the anonymous reviewers for providing helpful suggestions for improving the manuscript. This work was financed by the National Major Scientific and Technological Specific Projects (Grant No. 2008ZX07526-002-02), the Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 40925003), and the Innovation Project of State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology of China (Grant No. SKLURE2008-1-02).


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology, Research Center for Eco-Environmental SciencesChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.Product Safety/Research and DevelopmentSyngenta Crop Protection LLCGreensboroUSA

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