Chinese Geographical Science ›› 2016, Vol. 26 ›› Issue (6): 779-788.doi: 10.1007/s11769-016-0837-7

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Effects of Topography and Land Use Change on Gully Development in Typical Mollisol Region of Northeast China

LI Hao1,2, Richard M CRUSE3, LIU Xiaobing1, ZHANG Xingyi1   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Mollisols Agroecology, Northeast Institute of Geography and Agroecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Harbin 150081, China;
    2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China;
    3. Department of Agronomy, Iowa State University, Ames, 500011 Iowa, USA
  • Received:2015-05-04 Revised:2015-08-28 Online:2016-12-27 Published:2016-11-05
  • Contact: ZHANG
  • Supported by:

    Under the auspices of National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41601289, 41571264)


Due to high intensity agricultural exploitation since the middle of the 20th century, farmland gullies have become a pervasive form of water erosion in Northeast China. Yet few researches are concentrated on how topography and land use affect long-term gully development in this region. In this study, gully distribution in a village with an area of 24.2 km2 in the central Mollisols area of Northeast China in different times were compared by Aerial photography (1968), Quickbird image (2009) and field survey, and factors affecting gully development including land use and topography were analyzed. The results showed that the total gully number decreased from 104 to 69, while occupying area rose from 34.8 ha to 78.4 ha from 1968 to 2009. Fundamental gully distribution had been formed by 1968 as most of 2009's gullies were evolved from 1968's gullies' merge and width expansion process, and new gullies those initiated after 1968 occupied only 7% of total gully area in 2009. Gully area increasing ratio in grassland was the highest and that in forestland was the lowest. The threshold catchment area between simple and complex gully development was around 15 ha to 25 ha. This threshold value sets apart catchment areas that will develop simple or complex gullies in areas with similar environmental conditions. Gully control measurements were urgent because if appropriate gully control implements would not be applied, present gully erosion crisis could be doubled within 50 years.

Key words: gully erosion, land use, topographic threshold, Mollisols, Northeast China