3 years ago

Land-use regime shift triggered the recent degradation of alpine pastures in Nyanpo Yutse of the eastern Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau

Matthias Bürgi, Fabian E. Fassnacht, Li Li, Ilse Storch



The eastern Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau is a cultural landscape where traditional pastoralism substantially shaped the present mosaic structure of the alpine grasslands. During the past two decades, however, severe grassland degradations of this region has been considered as the major ecological concern.


In this study we took an interdisciplinary approach to investigate the impact of the historical land-use regimes to the observed degradation, by conducting an in-depth case study in a local pastoral village in the Nyanpo Yutse region.


Firstly, we mapped historical land-use intensities (LUIs) of the study area at land-use transition time points of 1970s, 1984, 1994 and 2015 with oral history and participatory GIS (PGIS) approaches. Secondly, we conducted Landsat and Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) time series analysis to detect the temporal and spatial patterns of the degradation. Thirdly, we discussed the causal relations between the land-use and land-cover changes.


Livestock and pasture privatization from 1984 to 1994 created the land-use regime shift which resulted in a marked increase in LUIs and decreased pastoral mobility. The LUI increase in this transition period fostered the establishment of short-grass vegetation which facilitated the spreading of plateau pikas. The installment of iron fences as private pasture borders from 2004 to 2007 eventually started the onset of degradation.


Our case study illustrates that the past land-use regime shift triggered the recent ecological regime shift in Nyanpo Yutse. Severe grassland degradation occurred with a time lag during which cumulative LUIs surpassed the vulnerability threshold of the biophysical system.

Publisher URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10980-017-0510-2

DOI: 10.1007/s10980-017-0510-2

You might also like
Discover & Discuss Important Research

Keeping up-to-date with research can feel impossible, with papers being published faster than you'll ever be able to read them. That's where Researcher comes in: we're simplifying discovery and making important discussions happen. With over 19,000 sources, including peer-reviewed journals, preprints, blogs, universities, podcasts and Live events across 10 research areas, you'll never miss what's important to you. It's like social media, but better. Oh, and we should mention - it's free.

  • Download from Google Play
  • Download from App Store
  • Download from AppInChina

Researcher displays publicly available abstracts and doesn’t host any full article content. If the content is open access, we will direct clicks from the abstracts to the publisher website and display the PDF copy on our platform. Clicks to view the full text will be directed to the publisher website, where only users with subscriptions or access through their institution are able to view the full article.