Ecological restoration trajectory of the Taitema Lake wetland in arid northwest China: A 36-year wetland health assessment using Landsat time series data

Jiudan Zhang, Junli Li, Anming Bao, Amaury Frankl, Haoyu Wang, Jie Bai, Zhanfeng Shen, Longhui Li, Philippe De Maeyer, Tim Van de Voorde

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The Taitema Lake wetland in the lower reaches of the Tarim River (northwest China) is sensitive to hydrological changes and provides necessary ecosystem functions for biodiversity conservation. Monitoring and evaluating the long-term dynamics of the Taitema Lake wetland is essential for conserving and restoring regional wetland ecosystems. This paper used a dense time series of Landsat images from 1986 to 2021 to map the Taitema Lake wetlands. It analyzed the annual and seasonal variations of the wetlands by ten ecological indicators, which include area extent, vegetation, hydrology, and landscape features. A systematic assessment of the ecological quality of the wetlands over the past 36 years, along with their influencing factors, was conducted from the perspective of wetland health. The results showed that (1) the recovered water areas and the wetlands showed a clear trend of ecological restoration since 2000, accompanied by an increased fragmentation. The total wetland area increased from 69.95 km2 in 1986 to 1164.47 km2 in 2021, with a 15.6-fold increase, and the vegetation area increased twentyfold to 639.84 km2. (2) The wetness in the core zone increased consistently across seasons, coupled with a simultaneous vegetation expansion surrounding the core zone. The areas with increasing wetness levels account for 48 % during winter and spring, and the areas with vegetation expansion account for 81 % and 72 % in summer and autumn, respectively. (3) The wetland ecological health status recovered to a “Good” level in 2021 and has not reached the “Excellent” status. The expansion of the water body is the primary driver behind the promotion of wetland ecological recovery. Small water bodies within the area range of 0.05 to 0.1 km2 notably exhibited the most stimulating effects on the wetlands. Thus, increasing the count of smaller water bodies helps rehabilitate vegetation growth and mitigating the water supply's stress to sustain large lacustrine bodies.

Originele taal-2English
Aantal pagina's12
TijdschriftEcological Indicators
Nummer van het tijdschrift111956
StatusPublished - 2 apr 2024

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