Authors:D. Zhou, H. Gong, Z. Luan, J. Hu, and 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 hydrogeomorphic 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.