Spatiotemporal pattern of urbanization in Shanghai, China between 1989 and 2005

Junxiang Li, Cheng Li, Feige Zhu, Conghe Song, Jianguo Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

127 Scopus citations


Quantifying the spatiotemporal pattern of urbanization is necessary to understand urban morphology and its impacts on biodiversity and ecological processes, and thus can provide essential information for improving landscape and urban planning. Recent studies have suggested that, as cities evolve, certain general patterns emerge along the urban-rural gradient although individual cities always differ in details. To help better understand these generalities and idiosyncrasies in urbanization patterns, we analyzed the spatiotemporal dynamics of the Shanghai metropolitan area from 1989 to 2005, based on landscape metrics and remote sensing data. Specifically, the main objectives of our study were to quantitatively characterize the spatiotemporal patterns of urbanization in Shanghai in recent decades, identify possible spatial signatures of different land use types, and test the diffusion coalescence hypotheses of urban growth. We found that, similar to numerous cities around the world reported in previous studies, urbanization increased the diversity, fragmentation, and configurational complexity of the urban landscape of Shanghai. In the same time, however, the urban-rural patterns of several land use types in Shanghai seem unique-quite different from previously reported patterns. For most land use types, each showed a distinctive spatial pattern along a rural-urban transect, as indicated by landscape metrics. Furthermore, the urban expansion of Shanghai exhibited an outward wave-like pattern. Our results suggest that the urbanization of Shanghai followed a complex diffusion-coalescence pattern along the rural-urban transect and in time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1545-1565
Number of pages21
JournalLandscape Ecology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 2013


  • Gradient analysis
  • Landscape metrics
  • Landscape pattern
  • Thematic resolution
  • Urban growth hypothesis
  • Urbanization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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