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A comprehensive bibliography of rangeland ecology and management in the Mongolian steppe

Description

Rangeland degradation is believed to be accelerating across the Mongolian steppe region due to overgrazing and drought. Efforts are underway to document rangeland change and its drivers and to design and implement innovative management approaches in Mongolia and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China.

latest article added on June 2014

ArticleFirst AuthorPublished
Impact of rainfall variability and grazing pressure on plant diversity in Mongolian grasslands.Cheng, Y.2011

Impact of rainfall variability and grazing pressure on plant diversity in Mongolian grasslands.

Keywords

Climatic variation ; Dry land ; Grazing gradient ; Species richness ; Steppe

Abstract

Climate and grazing are the main drivers of plant community composition and species richness in arid environments. This study aimed to examine the vegetation response to a spatial precipitation gradient, interannual rainfall variability, and grazing pressure in Mongolia. To examine the effect of a spatial precipitation gradient, we compared species richness among six sites. To investigate the effects of interannual rainfall variability and grazing pressure, we compared species richness for 2 years at two sites, in desert-steppe and steppe areas. The regional gradient in annual precipitation showed positive and negative relationships with grass richness and shrub richness, respectively, although total species richness did not vary significantly. The proportions of the different functional groups were affected by grazing pressure and rainfall variability in both zones. In the desert-steppe zone, species richness was lower in the drier year but did not vary with grazing pressure. In the steppe zone, species richness varied significantly with grazing pressure but did not vary between years. Precipitation would be more important than grazing pressure on vegetation changes in drier areas with high rainfall variability.

Authors

Y. Cheng, M. Tsubo, T.Y. Ito, E. Nishihara, M. Shinoda

Year Published

2011

Publication

Journal of Arid Environments

Locations
DOI

10.1016/j.jaridenv.2010.12.019

Impact of Stocking Rate and Rainfall on Sheep Performance in a Desert Steppe.Wang, Zhongwu2011

Impact of Stocking Rate and Rainfall on Sheep Performance in a Desert Steppe.

Keywords

live weight gain ; grazing management ; Inner Mongolia ; optimal stocking rate ; Stipa breviflora Griseb

Abstract

Livestock performance is a critical indicator of grassland production systems and is influenced strongly by precipitation and stocking rates. However, these relationships require further investigation in the arid Desert Steppe region of northeastern China. We employed a randomized complete block design with three replications and four grazing treatments (nongrazed exclosure [Control]), lightly grazed [LG], moderately grazed [MG], and heavily grazed [HG]) by sheep in a continuously grazed system (June to November), to test the effect of stocking rate on sheep performance. The planned stocking rates were 0, 0.15, 0.30, and 0.45 sheep·ha−1·mo−1, for the control, LG, MG, and HG treatments, respectively. However, actual stocking rates were calculated for each paddock in each year based on a 50-kg sheep equivalent (SE). Annual net primary production (ANPP) was determined at peak standing crop in August 2004 to 2008. Live weight gain was determined for the summer and fall periods, as well as the total grazing period, in each year. ANPP decreased with increasing stocking rate, and daily live weight gain per head decreased linearly with increasing stocking rates over the total grazing period but in a quadratic manner over the summer period with a plateau at the lower rates. Maximum sheep production per unit area over the total grazing season occurred at about 2 SEha−1 for about a 5-mo grazing period, but individual gains per sheep were predicted to decline after about 1 SEha−1 presumably because of forage limitations. However, in order to achieve stable annual production, we recommend that the Desert Steppe be grazed at about 0.77 SEha−1 for a 5-mo period (0.15 SEha−1·mo−1). This estimate is based on published grazing strategies that consider an average ANPP with a recommended utilization rate of 30%.

Authors

Zhongwu Wang, Shuying Jiao, Guodong Han, Mengli Zhao, Walter D Willms, Xiying Hao, Jian'an Wang, Haijun Din, Kris M Havstad

Year Published

2011

Publication

Rangeland Ecology & Management

Locations
DOI

10.2111/REM-D-09-00033.1

The relative importance of different seed dispersal modes in dry Mongolian rangelands.Bläß, C.2010

The relative importance of different seed dispersal modes in dry Mongolian rangelands.

Keywords

Agropyron cristatum ; Anemochory ; Endozoochory ; Epizoochory ; Hydrochory ; Stipa krylovii

Abstract

Nomadic livestock husbandry is the main form of land use in Mongolia. Grazing impact on plant productivity has frequently been studied, but effects on dispersal modes are largely unknown. We assessed the relative importance of zoochorous dispersal for several species but focused on the dominant fodder grasses Agropyron cristatum and Stipa krylovii. We searched for seeds in the fur of goats and sheep, but also experimentally attached diaspores and monitored retention. Endozoochory was tested by incubating faecal samples under standardised conditions. Lab experiments on zoochory, anemochory and hydrochory supplemented the field studies.

Authors

C. Bläß, K. Ronnenberg, O. Tackenberg, I. Hensen, K. Wesche

Year Published

2010

Publication

Journal of Arid Environments

Locations
DOI

10.1016/j.jaridenv.2009.12.002

Rainfall variability may modify the effects of long-term exclosure on vegetation in Mandalgobi, Mongolia.Sasaki, T.2009

Rainfall variability may modify the effects of long-term exclosure on vegetation in Mandalgobi, Mongolia.

Keywords

Arid and semi-arid rangelands ; Climatic variation ; Fence-line contrast ; Nonequilibrium dynamics ; Rangeland management

Abstract

Starting in 2005, we examined differences in vegetation for three consecutive years across an airport fence that separated heavily grazed areas from areas in which grazing had been excluded for 24 years in Mandalgobi, Mongolia. We performed repeated-measures analysis separately on two community types (dominated by Allium polyrrhizum and Achnatherum splendens, respectively) to compare the effects of fencing and year on the cover of different plant functional types. There was a significant fence * year interaction for grass cover in the Allium type (but not the Achnatherum type), due to greater cover of grasses inside the fence only when rainfall was sufficient during the growing season. The effect of grazing exclusion on perennial forb cover was confounded by a significant fence * year interaction in both types. In 2007, perennial forbs were found outside the fence, but had almost disappeared inside the fence, resulting in this interaction. Annual forbs only had much greater cover values inside the fence than outside in 2006, also resulting in a significant fence * year interaction in both community types. This study thus suggests that the high rainfall variability in arid and semi-arid rangelands may modify the effects of long-term exclosure on vegetation.

Authors

T. Sasaki, T. Okayasu, T. Ohkuro, Y. Shirato, U. Jamsran, K. Takeuchi

Year Published

2009

Publication

Journal of Arid Environments

Locations
DOI

10.1016/j.jaridenv.2009.04.008

Long-Term Ecosystem Effects of Sand-Binding Vegetation in the Tengger Desert, Northern China.Li, Xin-Rong2004

Long-Term Ecosystem Effects of Sand-Binding Vegetation in the Tengger Desert, Northern China.

Keywords

biodiversity;China;ecological restoration;long-term effects;sand-binding vegetation;Tengger Desert

Abstract

The planting of sand-binding vegetation in the Shapotou region at the southeastern edge of the Tengger Desert began in 1956. Over the past 46 years, it has not only insured the smooth operation of the Baotou-Lanzhou railway in the sand dune section but has also played an important role in the restoration of the local eco-environment; therefore, it is viewed as a successful model for desertification control and ecological restoration along the transport line in the arid desert region of China. Long-term monitoring and focused research show that within 4-5 years of establishment of sand-binding vegetation, the physical surface structure of the sand dunes stabilized, and inorganic soil crusts formed by atmospheric dust gradually turned into microbiotic crusts. Among the organisms comprising these crusts are cryptogams such as desert algae and mosses. In the 46 years since establishing sand-binding vegetation, some 24 algal species occurred in the crusts. However, only five moss species were identified, which was fewer than the species number in the crust of naturally fixed sand dunes. Other results of the planting were that near-surface wind velocity in the 46-year-old vegetation area was reduced by 54.2% compared with that in the moving sand area; soil organic matter increased from 0.06% in moving sand dunes to 1.34% in the 46-year-old vegetation area; the main nutrients N, P, K, etc., in the desert ecosystem increased; soil physicochemical properties improved; and soil-forming processes occurred in the dune surface layer. Overall, establishment of sand-binding vegetation significantly impacted soil water cycles, creating favorable conditions for colonization by many herbaceous species. These herbaceous species, in turn, facilitated the colonization and persistence of birds, insects, soil animals, and desert animals. Forty-six years later, some 28 bird species and 50 insect species were identified in the vegetated dune field. Thus, establishment of a relatively simple community of sand-binding species led to the transformation of the relatively barren dune environment into a desert ecosystem with complex structure, composition, and function. This restoration effort shows the potential for short-term manipulation of environmental variables (i.e., plant cover via artificial vegetation establishment) to begin the long-term process of ecological restoration, particularly in arid climates, and demonstrates several techniques that can be used to scientifically monitor progress in large-scale restoration projects.

Authors

Li, Xin-Rong, Hong-Lang Xiao, Jing-Guang Zhang and Xin-Ping Wang.

Year Published

2004

Publication

Restoration Ecology

Locations
DOI

10.1111/j.1061-2971.2004.00313.x

Threshold changes in vegetation along a grazing gradient in Mongolian rangelands.Sasaki, Takehiro2008

Threshold changes in vegetation along a grazing gradient in Mongolian rangelands.

Keywords

arid and semi-arid rangelands;bootstrap confidence interval;ecological threshold;land degradation;Mongolia;ordination;piecewise regression model;plant functional types;rangeland management

Abstract

  1. The concept of threshold has become important in ecology, but the nature of potential threshold responses of vegetation to grazing in rangeland ecosystems remains poorly understood. We aimed to identify ecological thresholds in vegetation changes along a grazing gradient and to examine whether threshold changes were expressed similarly at a variety of ecological sites.
  2. To accomplish this, we surveyed the vegetation along grazing gradients at 10 ecological sites, each located at different landscape positions in Mongolia's central and southern rangelands. Evidence for a threshold in changes in floristic composition along the grazing gradient was examined by comparing linear models of the data with nonlinear models fitted using an exponential curve, an inverse curve, a piecewise regression and a sigmoid logistic curve.
  3. Three nonlinear models (piecewise, exponential and sigmoid) provided a much better fit to the data than the linear models, highlighting the presence of a discontinuity in vegetation changes along the grazing gradient. The shapes of the best-fit models and their fit to the data were generally similar across sites, indicating that the changes in floristic composition were relatively constant below a threshold level of grazing, after which the curve changed sharply.
  4. Except for two sites, the best-fit models had relatively narrow bootstrap confidence intervals (95% CI), especially around threshold points or zones where the rate of change accelerated, emphasizing that our results were robust and conclusive.
  5. Synthesis. Our study provided strong evidence for the existence of ecological thresholds in vegetation change along a grazing gradient across all ecological sites. This suggests that vegetation responses to grazing in the study areas are essentially nonlinear. The recognition that real threshold changes exist in real grazing gradients will help land managers to prevent the occurrence of undesirable states and promote the occurrence of desirable states, and will therefore permit a major step forward in the sustainable management of rangeland ecosystems.

Authors

Sasaki, Takehiro,Okayasu, Tomoo,Jamsran, Undarmaa,Takeuchi, Kazuhiko

Year Published

2008

Publication

Journal of Ecology

Locations
DOI

10.1111/j.1365-2745.2007.01315.x

Management applicability of the intermediate disturbance hypothesis across Mongolian rangeland ecosystems.Sasaki, Takehiro2009

Management applicability of the intermediate disturbance hypothesis across Mongolian rangeland ecosystems.

Keywords

arid and semiarid rangelands;ecological threshold;grazing gradient;grazing history;Mongolia;plant functional types;rangeland management;species coexistence;species diversity

Abstract

The current growing body of evidence for diversity–disturbance relationships suggests that the peaked pattern predicted by the intermediate disturbance hypothesis (IDH) may not be the rule. Even if ecologists could quantify the diversity–disturbance relationship consistent with the IDH, the applicability of the IDH to land management has rarely been addressed. We examined two hypotheses related to the generality and management applicability of the IDH to Mongolian rangeland ecosystems: that the diversity–disturbance relationship varies as a function of landscape condition and that some intermediate scales of grazing can play an important role in terms of sustainable rangeland management through a grazing gradient approach. We quantified the landscape condition of each ecological site using an ordination technique and determined two types of landscape conditions: relatively benign and harsh environmental conditions. At the ecological sites characterized by relatively benign environmental conditions, diversity–disturbance relationships were generally consistent with the IDH, and maximum diversity was observed at some intermediate distance from the source of the grazing gradient. In contrast, the IDH was not supported at most (but not all) sites characterized by relatively harsh environmental conditions. The intermediate levels of grazing were generally located below the ecological threshold representing the points or zones at which disturbance should be limited to prevent drastic changes in ecological conditions, suggesting that there is little “conundrum” with regard to intermediate disturbance in the studied systems in terms of land management. We suggest that the landscape condition is one of the primary factors that cause inconsistencies in diversity–disturbance relationships. The ecological threshold can extend its utility in rangeland management because it also has the compatibility with the maintenance of species diversity. This study thus suggests that some intermediate scales of grazing and ecological thresholds are mutually supportive tools for sustainable management of Mongolian rangelands.

Authors

Sasaki, Takehiro, Satoru Okubo, Tomoo Okayasu, Undarmaa Jamsran, Toshiya Ohkuro, and Kazuhiko Takeuchi.

Year Published

2009

Publication

Ecological Applications

Locations
DOI

10.1890/08-0144.1

This article contributed by:

Ecological Society of America

Desertification processes due to heavy grazing in sandy rangeland, Inner MongoliaZhao, HL2005

Desertification processes due to heavy grazing in sandy rangeland, Inner Mongolia

Keywords

sandy rangeland; heavy grazing; vegetation degradation; soil erosion; sandy desertification; Inner Mongolia

Abstract

We conducted a grazing experiment from 1992 to 1996 in Inner Mongolia to explore desertification processes of sandy rangeland. The results show that continuous heavy grazing results in a considerable decrease in vegetation cover, height, standing biomass and root biomass, and a significant increase in animal hoof impacts. As a result, small bare spots appeared on the ground and later merged into larger bare areas in the rangeland. Total bare area reached up to 52% and the average depth of wind erosion was 25 cm in the fifth year of the study. We conclude that sandy rangeland with wind-erodible soil is susceptible to desertification. Heavy grazing of such rangeland should be avoided. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Authors

Zhao, HL; Zhao, XY; Zhou, RL; Zhang, TH; Drake, S

Year Published

2005

Publication

Journal of Arid Environments

Locations
DOI

10.1016/j.jaridenv.2004.11.009

Geospatial Assessment of Grazing Regime Shifts and Sociopolitical Changes in a Mongolian RangelandSankey, Temuulen Tsagaan2009

Geospatial Assessment of Grazing Regime Shifts and Sociopolitical Changes in a Mongolian Rangeland

Keywords

GIS, GPS, grassland biomass, NDVI remote sensing

Abstract

Drastic changes have occurred in Mongolia's grazing land management over the last two decades, but their effects on rangelands are ambiguous. Temporal trends in Mongolia's rangeland condition have not been well documented relative to the effects of long-term management changes. This study examined changes in grazing land use and rangeland biomass associated with the transition from the socialist collective to the current management systems in the Tsahiriin tal area of northern Mongolia. Grazing lands in Tsahiriin tal that were formerly managed by the socialist collective are now used by numerous nomadic households with their privately owned herds, although the lands remain publicly owned. Grazing pressure has more than tripled and herd distribution has changed from a few spatially clustered large herds of sheep to numerous smaller herds of multiple species. Landsat image–derived normalized-difference vegetation index estimates suggest that rangeland biomass significantly decreased (P Observation de la Terre imagery–based rangeland assessments in 2007 and 2008 indicate that current rangeland biomass is low. Spatial pattern analyses show that the low biomass is uniform throughout the study site. The observed decrease in rangeland biomass might be further accelerated if current grazing land use continues with no formal rangeland management institution or organized, well-structured efforts by the local herding households.

Authors

Sankey, Temuulen Tsagaan, Weber, Keith T., Sankey, Joel Brown and Montagne, Cliff

Year Published

2009

Publication

Rangeland Ecology & Management

Locations
DOI

10.2111/.1/REM-D-09-00014.1

Comparison of vegetation changes along grazing gradients with different numbers of livestockHoshino, A.2009

Comparison of vegetation changes along grazing gradients with different numbers of livestock

Keywords

Grazing intensity; Mongolia; Plant functional type; Rangeland ecology; Semi-arid

Abstract

The objective of this study was to clarify whether the changes in percent cover of plant functional types (i.e., life forms and growth forms) along a grazing gradient reflect the livestock number, which would reinforce the reliability of using a grazing gradient design and improve the management of rangeland. We selected two livestock camps that for many years have had different numbers of livestock, with approximately six times more sheep-equivalents at site 1 than at site 2. Vegetation was sampled in 10 quadrats on five transects along the grazing gradient at each site. In each quadrat, we recorded percent cover of each plant species. Our findings suggested that vegetation changes along the grazing gradient under different livestock numbers were characterized by changes in the cover of life forms: perennial species were replaced by annual species near the camps (10–50 m). However, we did not find growth form change that reflected the difference in the number of livestock.

Authors

Hoshino, A., Yoshihara, Y., Sasaki, T., Okayasu, T., Jamsran, U., Okuro, T. and Takeuchi, K.

Year Published

2009

Publication

Journal of Arid Environments

Locations
DOI

10.1016/j.jaridenv.2009.01.005

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