Integrating ecosystem services and rocky desertification into identification of karst ecological security pattern

Landscape Ecology (2020)



Most researchers focus on the identification of ecological security pattern. However, there is a lack of research on the ecological security pattern of karst fragile area with significant human-land conflict and important ecological shelter function.


The main objectives of this paper were to add the rocky desertification to the construction of ecological security pattern and provide reference for ecological reconstruction of karst ecological fragile area.


Based on the rocky desertification in karst area, this study added a new index in resistance surface correction, and put rocky desertification in the analysis of ecosystem services and ecological sensitivity. Corridors were identified by the least-cost path and circuit theory. Combined with the expansion probability of construction and cultivated land, this study developed a classification system of ecological source area and corridor.


The ecological source areas is 24,254 km2 and account for 48.4% of the total area. There are 19 corridors, including 6 least-cost path corridors, 10 optimal current density corridors, and 3 river corridors. A total of 18 ecological barrier points and 8 ecological nodes are distributed on the corridors. The study area consisted of four ecological functional areas: ecological core area, ecological buffer area, ecotone area, and living-productive area, with areas of 32,044 km2, 9542 km2, 6811 km2, and 1398 km2, respectively.


The construction of the ecological security pattern enhances the function of ecological barriers and provides a scientific basis for ecological conservation and restoration in a later stage of the karst area in the Wujiang River basin.

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.