Socio-ecological assessment of threats to semi-arid rangeland habitat in Iran using spatial models and actor group opinions

Azam Khosravi Mashizi, Francisco J. Escobedo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Key to the sustainable management of rangelands is identifying socioeconomic and ecological threats to the structure and function of historically grazed ecosystems. We studied how recent anthropogenic factors associated with globalization and urbanization could affect habitat quality and biodiversity as well as actors in a historically grazed rangeland basin in Iran. We used an approach that integrated field data, a spatially explicit ecosystem service model, and actor group opinions concerning threats to rangelands. We found low habitat quality in downstream areas where agriculture predominates. Significant relationships were also found between the Simpson diversity index and habitat quality; thus corroborating our modeling results. Actors and experts ranked grazing and agricultural activities as the greatest threats to habitat quality. Upstream areas with the highest habitat quality had the highest social value in terms of conservation efforts and ecosystem service provision. Modeling scenarios indicated that agriculture was the main threat to habitat quality, more so than grazing. Our approach shows that the historical legacy of past land use objectives that prioritized increased fodder must now be weighed against other current and future societal needs and management objectives such as food security and dust abatement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104136
JournalJournal of Arid Environments
StatePublished - Jun 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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