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NASA-Mongolia: Grassland Ecosystems and Societal Adaptations under Changing Grazing Intensity and Climate on the Mongolian Plateau

The Mongolia grassland ecosystem project is funded by NASA as a collaboration of University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University, institutes of botany in Chinese Academy of Sciences and Mongolian Academy of Sciences, and IMAR institute of rangeland surveying and planning during the period of 2009 - 2012. In this project, we are evaluating the interactions between grassland ecosystems and herder communities that rely on them at multiple scales, and the role of climate variability in determining changes in grassland productivity and human adaptations. Our study is conducted in the Mongolian plateau, covering substantial portions of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China (IMAR) and the country of Mongolia. Our specific objectives are to: 1) analyze and map grassland productivity over time (1975-2010) at three nested spatial scales/resolutions based on field, remotely sensed and climate data; 2) develop a conceptual and quantitative understanding of societal responses to variability in climate and grasslands productivity at the household and village scales; and 3) analyze regional-scale relationships between ecosystem productivity and human adaptation, over time, across ecological gradients and between the IMAR & Mongolia.

The field ecological sampling and the household survey were completed in both IMAR and Mongolia. The project team has been energetically engaged in analysis and publication now. The papers published so far include,

Xie, Y., Sha, Z., 2012. Quantitative Analysis of Driving Factors of Grassland Degradation: A Case Study in Xilin River Basin, Inner Mongolia。 The Scientific World Journal,Volume 2012, Article ID 169724, 14 pages,doi:10.1100/2012/169724。

Wang, J., Brown, D. G., Agrawal, A., In Press. Governing Mongolian Grasslands Sustainably: Comparing Institutional, Market, and Ecological Changes in the Context of Climate Change in Mongolia and Inner Mongolia, China. In J. Chen et al. (editors): Dryland East Asia (DEA): Land Dynamics amid Social and Climate Change.

Li, S., Xie, Y., and Meng, L., 2011. Monitoring Land Cover Changes In Hulun Buir By Using Object-Oriented Method, Proceedings of International Workshop on the Analysis of  Multi-temporal Remote Sensing Images, University of Trento - Italy, 12 July 2011 (EI indexed).

Xie, Y., Sha, Z., and Bai Y., 2010. Classifying historical remotely sensed imagery using a tempo-spatial feature evolution (T-SFE) model. ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, 65: 182-190.

Sha, Z. and Xie, Y., 2010. A Supervised Spectral Substratum Classifier to Classify Images With Fuzzy Memberships. In: Wagner, W., Székely, B. (eds.): ISPRS TC VII Symposium - 100 Years ISPRS Proceedings, IAPRS, Vol. XXXVIII, Part 7A, Vienna, Austria, July 5-7, 2010 (EI indexed).

The manuscripts that are completed and ready for submission include,

  • Discriminating stocking rates in a typical grassland using in-situ field collected spectra data
  • Monitoring grassland changes by using time series of Landsat images from 1985 to 2010: a case study in central of Xinlingol, China
  • Linking functional trait variation to ecosystem functioning in grasslands: A multiple-scale approach integrating field survey and experiments
  • Variation and plasticity of plant root traits along the precipitation gradient on Mongolian plateau
  • Effects of temperature and moisture on soil organic carbon pools and mineralization potential in grasslands of Inner Mongolia, China
  • Untangling the effects of grazing on soil nematodes community structure and ecosystem functioning in Mongolian grasslands
  • Non-uniform relationships between soil microbial and nematodes communities under low and high grazing intensities in Inner Mongolia grassland

Four additional manuscripts are in development now. Details contact:
Yichun Xie, Ph.D.
Professor and Director
Institute for Geospatial Research & Education
Eastern Michigan University
125 King Hall
Ypsilanti, Michigan 48197