River systems are valuable to human beings; meanwhile, they are intensively influenced by human activities, especially urbanization. In this study, based on the data derived from topographic maps and remote sensing images, the temporal and spatial change of river system geomorphology in the Taihu Region over the past 50 years was investigated in conjunction with urbanization. Results demonstrated that the number of river systems decreased drastically, that the morphology of river channels changed into wider and straighter and that the structure of river network tended to simplify in the Taihu Region in recent 50 years. Meanwhile, the changes in river density, the water surface ratio, the river development coefficient, the main river area length ratio and the box dimension in the rapid urbanization period were much greater than those in the slow urbanization period, but the decrease of river sinuosity in the slow urbanization period was more intense. Moreover, the spatial differences of the changes in the river development coefficient were the largest, and the changes in the river indicators in the low-urbanized regions were the most intense. In addition, the changes in the water surface ratio had the closest correlation with urbanization, and the relational degrees between population urbanization and the changes in river systems were the largest. The results can provide a reliable basis to determine reasonable management and conservation strategies of river systems in the Taihu Region.
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