Informed management of livestock on rangelands underpins both the livelihoods of communities that depend on livestock for sustenance, and the conservation of wildlife that often depend on livestock-dominated landscapes for habitat. Understanding spatial patterns of rangeland productivity is therefore crucial to designing global development strategies that balance social and environmental benefits. Here we introduce a new rangeland production model that dynamically links the Century ecosystem model with a basic ruminant diet selection and physiology model. With lightweight input data requirements that can be met with global sources, the model estimates the viability of broad livestock management decisions, and suggests possible implications of these management decisions for grazing wildlife. Using minimal field data, the new rangeland production model enables the reliable estimation of cattle stocking density; this is an important predictor of the viability of livestock production and forage available for grazing wildlife.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was funded by National Science Foundation Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems, Award Number 1313822. We express our appreciation to Giles Prettejohn, Head of Agriculture at OPC, for herd composition information.