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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Ecosystem Restoration

Regional Analysis of Climate, Primary Production, and Livestock Density in Inner Mongolia


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 33 No. 5, p. 1675-1681
    Received: June 17, 2003

    * Corresponding author(s): meiyu@ibcas.ac.cn
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  1. Mei Yu *a,
  2. James E. Ellisb and
  3. Howard E. Epsteinc
  1. a Laboratory of Quantitative Vegetation Ecology, Institute of Botany, The Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093, P.R. China
    b Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523
    c Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22904


Overstocking is believed to be one of the principal causes for grassland degradation in northern China. For this reason, quantification of overstocking and spatiotemporal analysis are needed for this area. In this study, the relationship between annual rainfall and grassland aboveground net primary production (ANPP) was analyzed using data from 1982 to 1991 in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (IMAR), China. Subsequently, rainfall-based livestock carrying capacity was estimated and combined with livestock density calculated from county-level livestock data from 1982 to 1991 to determine spatial and temporal patterns of a stocking rate index and its relationship with climatic factors. The results indicate the following. First, there was a significant linear relationship between annual rainfall and ANPP in IMAR and the slope of ANPP versus rainfall was greater than those found in South America and Africa, indicating higher rain-use efficiency. Second, temporally averaged livestock density showed overstocking in most of the rural counties except for those in the cold north, where human populations are low and transportation systems are poor. Third, the stocking rate index increased with temperature, from less than 1.0 in the north, to greater than 2.0 in most of the southern IMAR. Within the central IMAR, the index increased from west to east, along the gradient of increasing rainfall. Fourth, long-term dynamics of livestock density depicted continuous overstocking, more than 20%, from 1982 to 1991 along the western part of the NorthEast China Transect (NECT) within IMAR. Spatial planning of livestock densities according to carrying capacities and improved pastoral management are needed in this area.

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