Modeling integrated impacts of climate change and grazing on mongolia’s rangelands

Virginia Anne Kowal, Julian Ahlborn, Chantsallkham Jamsranjav, Otgonsuren Avirmed, Rebecca Chaplin-Kramer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Mongolia contains some of the largest intact grasslands in the world, but is vulnerable to future changes in climate and continued increases in the number of domestic livestock. As these are two major drivers of change, it is important to understand interactions between the impact of climate and grazing on productivity of Mongolia’s rangelands and the livelihoods they sustain. We use a gridded, spatially explicit model, the Rangeland Production Model (RPM), to explore the simultaneous and interacting effects of climate and management changes on Mongolia’s rangeland and future livestock production. Comparing the relative impact of temperature, precipitation, and grazing intensity, varied individually and in combination, we find that climatic factors dominate impacts on forage biomass and animal diet sufficiency. Site rainfall strongly mediates the impact of grazing on standing biomass, such that more productive or higher-rainfall sites are more vulnerable to increases in grazing pressure. Gridded simulations covering Mongolia’s Gobi-Steppe ecoregion show that while rangeland biomass is generally predicted to increase under future climate conditions, interactions among spatially varying drivers create strong heterogeneity in the magnitude of change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number397
JournalLand
Volume10
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 10 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This work was funded by NASA, grant number NNX17AG56G.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

Keywords

  • Climate change
  • Ecological model
  • Grazing impact
  • Rangeland condition

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