Application of spatial Markov chains to the analysis of the temporal–spatial evolution of soil erosion
Soil and water conservation in the Three Gorges Reservoir Area of China is important, and soil erosion is a significant issue. In the present study, spatial Markov chains were applied to explore the impacts of the regional context on soil erosion in the Xiangxi River watershed, and Thematic Mapper remote sensing data from 1999 and 2007 were employed. The results indicated that the observed changes in soil erosion were closely related to the soil erosion levels of the surrounding areas. When neighboring regions were not considered, the probability that moderate erosion transformed into slight and severe erosion was 0.8330 and 0.0049, respectively. However, when neighboring regions that displayed intensive erosion were considered, the probabilities were 0.2454 and 0.7513, respectively. Moreover, the different levels of soil erosion in neighboring regions played different roles in soil erosion. If the erosion levels in the neighboring region were lower, the probability of a high erosion class transferring to a lower level was relatively high. In contrast, if erosion levels in the neighboring region were higher, the probability was lower. The results of the present study provide important information for the planning and implementation of soil conservation measures in the study area.