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Occurrence mechanism and prediction of rocky land degradation in karst mountainous basins with the aid of GIS technology, a study case in Houzhai River Basin in southwestern China

Huang, Xianfei, Zhou, Yunchao, Wang, Shijie, Zhang, Zhenming
Environmental earth sciences 2019 v.78 no.6 pp. 217
altitude, basins, desertification, geographic information systems, humans, karsts, land degradation, mountains, neural networks, prediction, sustainable development, topographic slope, watersheds, China
Rocky desertification is a severe ecological issue threatening and constraining regional sustainable development in karst mountainous areas like Houzhai River Basin in southwestern China. The results indicate that slope gradient and altitude are closely associated with occurrence of rocky desertification in the study region and there are some significant correlations between rock outcrop and slope gradient (r = 0.363, p < 0.001) and between rock outcrop and altitude (r = 0.0.336, p < 0.001). Slope gradient and altitude are key factors contributing to rocky desertification in the studied basin. Therefore, special attention should be paid to sloping lands that have greater slope gradients or altitudes to prevent and control the rocky desertification in a karst mountainous basin as the Houzhai River Basin. Furthermore, it might be possible to predict the occurrence of rocky desertification using neural networks on the basis of geographical characteristics and human disturbance. The correlation coefficients between observed values and predicted values ranged from 0.728 to 0.905, with a mean value of 0.851 (ten times repeats). The present study also indicates that human disturbance has little effect on rocky desertification. However, further studies should be conducted to interpret the effects of agricultural activities on the occurrence of rocky desertification.