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Selected Publication:

Mayer, A; Egger, C; Loyau, A; Plutzar, C; Schmeller, DS; Gaube, V.
(2022): Mountain pastures increase the resilience of livestock farming to extreme events in the Ariege department, France
AGRON SUSTAIN DEV. 2022; 42(3), 49 FullText FullText_BOKU

Mountain pastures are embedded in highly sensitive mountain ecosystems and provide forage for livestock during summer. In years when forage in the lowlands becomes scarce due to over-grazing and land degradation, or climate-related extreme events such as droughts, increasing stocking densities or expanding grazed areas in mountain pastures provide an additional and cost-efficient forage source. Their utilization highly depends on the management decisions of farmers and practices on their own agricultural land. To predict future land use and concomitant ecological impacts, it is crucial to understand the complex interplay between the decisions of farmers as well as the socio-economic and climatic environment. To understand these interactions, we use the agent-based part of the SECLAND model to analyze the future systemic feedback between climate change, land owner's decisions on land use, and land use change on agricultural land and mountain pastures in the department of Ariege, France. We develop three land use scenarios for a sustainability-driven, a business-as-usual, and a scenario driven by fossil-fueled economic growth. In all scenarios, 32-46% of farms cease to exist, while active farms intensify their land use. On mountain pastures, results show increasing stocking densities up to the maximum carrying capacity of 0.3 livestock units per hectare, especially under the scenario with strong climate change effects and increased extreme events. Additionally, these patterns are strongly shaped by farm succession, vegetation regrowth on unused mountain pastures, and the search for cost-efficient forage resources. Such high stocking densities on mountain pastures increase the pressure on the ecosystem through manure droppings and the introduction of alien microbes, calling for considerate management to avoid conflicting situations. Agent-based models such as that used in this study enable researchers to untangle the described complex interactions between grazing livestock, and the utilization of lowland and mountain pastures in European mountain agroecosystems.
Authors BOKU Wien:
Egger Claudine-Caroline
Gaube Veronika
Mayer Andreas
Plutzar Christoph
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Find related publications in this database (Keywords)
Agent-based modelling
Mountain pastures
Livestock grazing
Climate change
Climate extremes

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