Understanding the integration process of urban agglomeration is essential for sustainable regional development and urban planning. However, few studies have analyzed the spatial integration patterns of metropolitan regions according to the impacts of landscape ecology along rail transit corridors. This study performed a comprehensive inter-city gradient analysis using landscape metrics and radar charts in order to determine the integration characteristics of an urban agglomeration. Specifically, we analyzed the evolution of spatial heterogeneity and functional landscapes along gradient transects in the Changsha–Zhuzhou–Xiangtan (CZT) metropolitan region during the period of 1995–2015. Four landscape functional zones (urban center, urban area, urban–rural fringe, and green core) were identified based on a cluster analysis of landscape composition, connectivity, and fragmentation. The landscape metric NP/LPI (number of patches/largest patch index) was proposed to identify the urban–rural fringe, which revealed that the CZT region exhibited a more aggregated form, characterized by a single-core, continuous development, and the compression of green space. The integration of cities has resulted in continued compression and fragmentation of ecological space. Therefore, strategies for controlling urban expansion should be adopted for sustainable urban development. The proposed method can be used to quantify the integration characteristics of urban agglomerations, providing scientific support for urban landscape planning.
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