Journal of Geo-information Science ›› 2023, Vol. 25 ›› Issue (10): 2039-2054.doi: 10.12082/dqxxkx.2023.230212

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Spatiotemporal Changes and Causes of Ecological Vulnerability in Ulansuhai Basin

LI Yunfan1,2(), LI Caixia1,2, JIA Xiang1,2, WU Jing1,2, ZHANG Xiaoli1,2,*(), MEI Xiaoli3, ZHU Ruoning3, WANG Dong3   

  1. 1. The Key Laboratory for Silviculture and Conservation of Ministry of Education, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing 100083, China
    2. Precision Forestry Key Laboratory of Beijing, Beijing 100083, China
    3. The Third Construction Co., Ltd. of China Construction First Bureau Group, Beijing 100161, China
  • Received:2023-04-21 Revised:2023-07-13 Online:2023-10-25 Published:2023-09-22
  • Contact: * ZHANG Xiaoli, E-mail:;
  • Supported by:
    CSCEC Science and Technology Research and Development Program(CSCEC-2020-Z-5);China-Europe Science and Technology Cooperation "Dragon Plan" Phase V Project(59257);Cooperation project between China and Europe in Earth Observation on forest monitoring technology and demonstration applications(2021YFE0117700)


To meet the challenges posed by the "fragmented" nature of ecological governance, it is crucial to have a holistic understanding of the vulnerability of basin ecosystems and the underlying patterns of their evolution for comprehensive ecological management. The Ulansuhai Basin, serving as a pilot site for a representative ecological conservation and restoration project, has experienced a shift from traditional "lake management" to a more systemic "basin management". This study selected the Ulansuhai Basin as the study area and established a "Sensitivity-Recovery-Pressure" index system for ecological vulnerability assessment. Using the Google Earth Engine cloud platform, methods including Mann-Kendall test, Sen+Mann-Kendall trend analysis, and transformation trajectory were applied to analyse the spatiotemporal evolution of ecological vulnerability in the Ulansuhai Basin from 2000 to 2020. Moreover, geographical detectors were utilized to further investigate the causes of ecological vulnerability in the Ulansuhai Basin, and to identify the primary driving factors. The results indicated that the ecological vulnerability of the Ulansuhai Basin exhibited a “low in the middle, high on both sides” pattern, e.g., the western region of the Ulan Buh Desert and the eastern Ula Mountain region had relatively higher ecological vulnerability, while the central Hetao irrigation area had lower ecological vulnerability. From 2000 to 2020, the basin’s ecological vulnerability grading index increased from 2.44 to 2.59, indicating a slight decline in ecological vulnerability. Abrupt changes of vulnerability were observed in 2000, 2009, 2013, 2017, and 2020, with approximately 59.82% of the basin area maintaining stable ecological vulnerability grades throughout the assessment period. The transformation trajectory method showed that the decline of vulnerability peaked in 2013 and then began to slow after 2017. Additionally, surface aridity was identified as a key driving factor of ecological vulnerability in the Ulansuhai Basin, and the interaction of multiple factors showed a stronger explanatory power for ecological vulnerability than a single factor. Generally, land cover type exhibited the most significant explanatory power, followed by meteorological and economic types. This study analyzed the long-term spatiotemporal changes and causes of ecological vulnerability in basin ecosystems, providing a scientific basis for the assessment and governance of ecological conservation and restoration projects in ecologically vulnerable regions.

Key words: ecological vulnerability, Ulansuhai Basin, Google Earth Engine, time series analysis, Geodetector, spatiotemporal change