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Section 5: Methods of Knowledge and Data Integration in Coupled Natural-Human Systems

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  • ItemOpen Access
    The MOR2 database: building integrated datasets for social-ecological analysis across cultures and disciplines
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2015-06) Laituri, Melinda J., author; Linn, Sophia, author; Fassnacht, Steven R., author; Venable, Niah, author; Jamiyansharav, Khishigbayar, author; Ulambayar, Tungalag, author; Allegretti, Arren Mendezona, author; Reid, Robin, author; Fernandez-Gimenez, Maria, author; Nutag Action and Research Institute, publisher
    This paper describes the construction of a complex database for social-ecological analysis in Mongolia. As a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human (CNH) Systems, the Mongolian Rangelands and Resilience (MOR2) project focused on the vulnerability of Mongolian pastoral systems to climate change and adaptive capacity. To study this phenomenon, our team is made up of a group of hydrologists, social scientists, geographers, and ecologists collecting data across the Mongolian landscape over three years. This dataset is unique in that it captures multiple types of field data: ecological, hydrological and social science surveys; remotely-sensed data, participatory mapping, local documents, and scholarly literature. We describe the content, structure, and organization of the database and explain the development of data protocols and issues related to access and sharing. Descriptions of data analysis are included to demonstrate the utility of the database as well as its limitations. We conclude with a description of the challenges in creating a cross-cultural and multi-disciplinary database and lessons learned.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Modeling system dynamics in rangelands of the Mongolian Plateau
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2015-06) Allington, Ginger R. H., author; Li, Wei, author; Brown, Daniel G., author; Nutag Action and Research Institute, publisher
    The rangelands of the Mongolian Plateau are dynamic social-ecological systems that are influenced by a complex network of drivers, including climate, social institutions, market forces and broad scale policies affecting land tenure. These factors are linked via feedbacks and often exhibit non-linear relationships. The sustainability and resilience of rangelands in this region are dependent on the ability of residents and policy makers to respond to changes and uncertainties regarding climate, socio-economic conditions, and land use. However, the complex nature of these systems makes it difficult to predict how changes in one aspect of the system will affect the functioning of other areas. We developed a system dynamics model to understand how the human, natural, and land-use systems in one part of the Mongolian rangeland ecosystem interact to produce dynamic outcomes in both grassland productivity and livestock population dynamics. An important contribution of this integrative model is to serve as a structure for synthesizing disparate data and models generated in several previous studies. It also provides a baseline for exploring future uncertainties and system dynamics in ways that can then be communicated back to stakeholders in the region. We present results from the model simulations of how ecosystem function and socioeconomic outcomes might change under alternative plausible climate, socioeconomic, and land use futures.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Participatory mapping and herders' local knowledge on Mongolia's landscapes and socio-ecological boundaries
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2015-06) Allegretti, Arren Mendezona, author; Laituri, Melinda, author; Batjav, Batbuyan, author; Baival, Batkhishig, author; Nutag Action and Research Institute, publisher
    Socio-ecological boundaries delineate landscapes containing natural resources that are differentially accessed and managed by stakeholders. These boundaries may be human-demarcated and biophysical serving as tangible and intangible features delineating landscapes. Our purpose is to explore Mongolian herders' perceptions of their pasture and boundaries through participatory mapping processes. Our research questions include: 1) what boundaries are depicted on herders' participatory maps? and 2) how are boundaries discussed through herders' participatory mapping narratives? We conducted participatory mapping and informal interviews (n= 35) with herder groups and district officials in Arkhangai, Tuv, Dornod, and Dornogovi. We qualitatively coded participatory mapping narratives and applied visual grounded theory. Tangible features on participatory maps included economic, hydroclimatic, geomorphological, and ecological boundaries portrayed as springs, landforms, vegetation types, seasonal camps, wells, and roads. Non-physical intangible boundaries such as governance arrangements were evident in participatory mapping narratives and served as human demarcated boundaries for accessing seasonal camps, markets, government assistance, and resources for herder migration. The relationships among herder mobility, governance boundaries, and biophysical pasture boundaries are coupled and dynamic, resulting in multi-dimensional outcomes of herder livelihoods.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Integrating herder observations, meteorological data and remote sensing to understand climate change patterns and impacts across an eco-climatic gradient in Mongolia
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2015-06) Fernandez-Gimenez, M. E., author; Angerer, J. P., author; Allegretti, A. M., author; Fassnacht, S. R., author; Byamba, A., author; Chantsallkham, J., author; Reid, R., author; Venable, N. B. H., author; Nutag Action and Research Institute, publisher
    Mongolia has one of the strongest climate warming signals on Earth, and over 40% of the human population depends directly or indirectly on pastoral livestock production for their livelihoods. Thus, climate-driven changes in rangeland production will likely have a major effect on pastoral livelihoods. We examined patterns of climate change and rangeland production over 20 years in three ecological zones based on meteorological records, remote sensing and herder observations. We found the strongest trends in both instrument records and herder observations in the steppe zone, where summers are getting hotter and drier, winters colder, and rangeland production is declining. Instrument records and herder observations were most consistently aligned for total annual rainfall, and consensus among herders was greatest for changes in rainfall and production and lowest for temperature changes. We found more differences in herder observations between neighboring soums within the same ecozone than expected, suggesting the need for more fine-scale instrument observations to detect fine-scale patterns of change that herders observe.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Evaluating the impact of climate change based on herders' observations and comparing it with hydro-climatic and remote sensing data
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2015-06) Jigjsuren, Odgarav, author; Baival, Batkhishig, author; Nayanaa, Kherlentuul, author; Jargalsaikhan, Azjargal, author; Dash, Khurelbaatar, author; Badamkhand, Bayarmaa, author; Bud, Amarzaya, author; Nutag Action and Research Institute, publisher
    Studying the impact of recent years' climate change on Mongolian rangeland livestock husbandry and on pastoral herders' livelihoods, based on herders' observations and their experience, is an approach that is of considerable interest to many scientists. Our research identifies changes in natural conditions and climate, as well as the changes in rangeland conditions, as observed by herders, and compares them against weather stations' multi-year observations and remote sensing data. Our research region of Khanbogd, Manlai and Bayan-Ovoo soums of Umnugobi aimag has been, in the recent years, experiencing a rapid development of the mining industry and human population growth. According to local herders, current rangeland quality greatly decreased compared to the period before the year 2000, while the area of barren land, sand movement and soil erosion increased. Herders also said that the amount of rainfall diminished and the rainy season's duration shortened, short high intensity rains grew in number, and it became extremely hot in summer. Soum weather station records of air temperature, precipitation and evaporation confirmed herders' observations, and were consistent with Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) or the results of observations of rangeland vegetation phenology. To develop local adaptive capacity in the face of changing social-ecological systems it is important to use and integrate multiple sources of information that are essential for making policy implementation mechanisms and measures more locally appropriate and relevant.