Spatiotemporal variation of vegetation coverage and its associated influence factor analysis in the Yangtze River Delta, eastern China

  • Jia Yuan
  • Youpeng XuEmail author
  • Jie Xiang
  • Lei Wu
  • Danqing Wang
Research Article


Vegetation is a natural tie that connects the atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, and pedosphere. Quantitatively evaluating the variability of vegetation coverage and exploring its associated influence factors are essential for ecological security and sustainable economic development. In this paper, the spatiotemporal variation of vegetation coverage and its response to climatic factors and land use change were investigated in the Yangtze River Delta (YRD) from 2001 to 2015, based on normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) data, vegetation type data, climate data, and land use/cover change (LUCC) data. The results indicated that the annual mean vegetation coverage revealed a nonsignificant decreasing trend over the whole YRD. Areas characterized by significant decreasing (P < 0.05) trends were mainly concentrated on the central and northern part of the YRD, and significant increasing (P < 0.05) trends were mainly located in the southern part of the study area. Except for grassland and cultivated crops, vegetation coverage of the other types of vegetation was all exhibiting increasing trends. Temperature has a more pronounced impact on vegetation growth than precipitation at both the annual and monthly scales. Furthermore, vegetation growth exhibited a time lag effect for 1~2 months in response to precipitation, while there was no such phenomenon with temperature. Land use change caused by urbanization is an important driving factor for the decrease of vegetation coverage in the YRD, and the effect of land use change on the vegetation dynamic should not be overlook.


Vegetation coverage Climate change Time lag Land use/cover change Yangtze River Delta China 



We gratefully acknowledge the National Meteorological Information Center, China Meteorological Administration, for offering the meteorological data. We are also thankful to the Data Center for Resources and Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, for providing the vegetation map. The authors would like to express their cordial gratitude to the editors and anonymous reviewers for their professional and pertinent comments and suggestions which are greatly helpful for quality improvement of this manuscript.

Funding information

This study was financially supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (No. 2016YFC0401502), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41771032), Water Conservancy Science and Technology Foundation of Jiangsu Province (No. 2015003), and the China Scholarship Council Grant (201806190147).


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Geographic and Oceanographic SciencesNanjing UniversityNanjingChina

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