Community Ecology

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 223–234 | Cite as

Spatial pattern of water controlled wetland communities on the Sanjiang Floodplain, Northeast China

  • D. ZhouEmail author
  • H. Gong
  • Z. Luan
  • J. Hu
  • F. Wu


The study site is the Honghe National Nature Reserve, a Ramsar designated site on the Sanjiang Plain in Northeast China. We present results regarding the spatial pattern and structure of plant communities in these most important natural but continually diminishing freshwater wetlands of China to help promote both protection and restoration. By investigating three ecological levels (landscape, ecosystem and community), this paper quantifies the characteristics of spatial pattern with the aim to identify specific ecological correlations with different hydro-geomorphic features. Specifically, the research involves hierarchical mapping of vegetation types by use of remote sensed data, and the coupling of landscape indices with fluvial topographic zones that have been deduced by GIS from DEM. Statistics from historical survey data are also used to measure the degradation of marshes as well as the historical change of the hydrological regime. We found that dominant is the Calamagrostis angustifolia - Carex spp. community type, a wet meadow and marsh complex within the prevailing landscape mosaic of shrubland and meadow. The results suggest that the sites’ hydro-geomorphic character has decisive influence on plant community structure and composition. There is only limited direct human interference in the sites and, as a consequence, the spatial pattern of vegetation distribution is natural. However, changes to the hydrological regime as the result of extensive irrigation activity in the surrounding area has led to rapid degradation of marsh wetlands within the sites, which threatens the ecological status in this storehouse of “Natural Genes” in the reserve.


Hydro-ecology Landscape Natural reserve Spatial pattern Wetland plant 



Digital Elevation Model


Digital Terrain Models


Geographic Information System


Honghe National Nature Reserve. See Table 1, for abbreviations of landscape pattern indices


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© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest 2006

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Lab of Wetland Ecology and Environment, Northeast Institute of Geography and Agricultural EcologyChinese Academy of SciencesChangchunP. R. China
  2. 2.Key Lab of Resource, Environment and GIS in BeijingCapital Normal UniversityBeijingP. R. China
  3. 3.Graduate University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingP. R. China

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