Currently, wetland stability is under threat due to the joint effects of global climate change and human activity, especially in lakes. Hence, it is necessary to evaluate the health status of wetland ecosystems such as lakes, identify the variables causing the wetland degradation and work to protect the wetlands from the identified variables in the future. Based on fourteen high-resolution autumn remote sensing images from 1989–2013, the classification characteristics and spatial distribution patterns of wetland landscapes in Poyang Lake were studied through quantitative interpretation technology. An established health assessment index system named the EHCI (Ecological Health Comprehensive Index) was used to assess the health status of Poyang Lake. Additionally, the relationship between water regime and health status of wetland landscape distribution of Poyang Lake were investigated by multivariate statistical analysis. The results demonstrated: (1) The total area of three first level (or six second level) types of wetland landscapes showed a stable status, which was long-term maintaining at about 3026 km2
from 1989–2013. (2) The water area shows a downward trend, while the areas of vegetation and land-water transition zone show upward trends. (3) The proposed EHCI of the Poyang Lake wetland presented a downward trend. According to the EHCI results from 1989–2013, the health status of Poyang Lake wetland was healthy for two years, unhealthy for four years and sub-healthy for eight years. (4) The water level fluctuation greatly affected the EHCI, and the effect became greater as the water level increased. These results contribute to the understanding of specific effects of hydrological process on the health status of the Poyang Lake wetland. In addition they provide a scientific reference for the maintenance of stable ecosystem functions of the seasonal freshwater lake. These results contribute to the understanding of specific effects of hydrological process on the health status of the Poyang Lake. In addition they provide a scientific reference for the maintenance of stable ecosystem functions of the seasonal freshwater lake.
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