Resilience of stocking capacity to changing climate in arid to Mediterranean landscapes.

Köchy, M., M. Mathaj, F. Jeltsch, and D. Malkinson (2008)

Small livestock is an important resource for rural human populations in dry climates. How strongly will climate change affect the capacity of the rangeland? We used hierarchical modelling to scale quantitatively the growth of shrubs and annual plants, the main food of sheep and goats, to the landscape extent in the eastern Mediterranean region. Without grazing, productivity increased in a sigmoid way with mean annual precipitation. Grazing reduced productivity more strongly the drier the landscape. At a point just under the stocking capacity of the vegetation, productivity declined precipitously with more intense grazing due to a lack of seed production of annuals. We repeated simulations with precipitation patterns projected by two contrasting IPCC scenarios. Compared to results based on historic patterns, productivity and stocking capacity did not differ in most cases. Thus, grazing intensity remains the stronger impact on landscape productivity in this dry region even in the future.

Regional Environmental Change 8: 73-78