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.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Funding: This work was funded by NASA, grant number NNX17AG56G.
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
- Climate change
- Ecological model
- Grazing impact
- Rangeland condition