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

  • Martin Köchy
  • Martin Mathaj
  • Florian Jeltsch
  • Dan Malkinson
Original Article


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.


Topography Spatially explicit model Climate change Middle East Stocking capacity 



We thank Malin Hansen, the members of the Potsdam University working group “Plant Ecology and Nature Conservation”, and three anonymous reviewers for critical comments on the manuscript. This study is part of the GLOWA Jordan River project financed by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF), contract 01LW0306(A). The authors alone are responsible for the content of this publication.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Köchy
    • 1
  • Martin Mathaj
    • 1
  • Florian Jeltsch
    • 1
  • Dan Malkinson
    • 2
  1. 1.Institut für Biologie und BiochemieUniversität PotsdamPotsdamGermany
  2. 2.Department of Geography and Environmental StudiesUniversity of HaifaHaifaIsrael

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