Quantitative analysis of driving factors of grassland degradation: A case study in Xilin River Basin, Inner Mongolia

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Geography and Geology


Current literature suggests that grassland degradation occurs in areas with poor soil conditions or noticeable environmental changes and is often a result of overgrazing or human disturbances. However, these views are questioned in our analyses. Based on the analysis of satellite vegetation maps from 1984, 1998, and 2004 for the Xilin River Basin, Inner Mongolia, China, and binary logistic regression (BLR) analysis, we observe the following: (1) grassland degradation is positively correlated with the growth density of climax communities; (2) our findings do not support a common notion that a decrease of biological productivity is a direct indicator of grassland degradation; (3) a causal relationship between grazing intensity and grassland degradation was not found; (4) degradation severity increased steadily towards roads but showed different trends near human settlements. This study found complex relationships between vegetation degradation and various microhabitat conditions, for example, elevation, slope, aspect, and proximity to water.

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