Journal of Ecology and Environment

pISSN 2287-8327 eISSN 2288-1220


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Published online July 4, 2018

Journal of Ecology and Environment (2018) 42:13

Livestock grazing and trampling effects on plant functional composition at three wells in the desert steppe of Mongolia

Amartuvshin Narantsetseg1, Sinkyu Kang2 and Dongwook Ko3

Institute of General and Experimental Biology, Mongolian Academy of Sciences, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia; Department of Environmental Science, Kangwon National University, Chuncheon, Republic of Korea; Department of Forest Environmental System, Kookmin University, Seoul, Republic of Korea

Correspondence to:Sinkyu Kang

Received: December 8, 2017; Accepted: June 20, 2018

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.



In arid grasslands, wells are subject to heavy trampling and grazing pressure, which can increase vulnerability to local land degradation. To investigate trampling and grazing, we surveyed plant communities at three well sites in the desert steppe of Mongolia, using 1600-m line transects from the wells. The sites (Bshrub, Sshrub, and shrubL) differed by concomitant shrub type (big shrub, small shrub, and shrub-limited) and livestock pressure (light, medium, and heavy). A plant classification scheme based on edibility and morphology (rosette or creeping type) was used to separate grazing and trampling effects on plant communities.>


Edible plants were dominant at all sites but a fraction of grazing- and trampling-tolerant plants increased in the order Bshrub, Sshrub, and shrubL, following livestock pressure. Clear transition zones from inedible to edible plant groups were recognized but at different locations and ranges among the sites. Trampling-tolerant plants explained 90% of inedible plants at Sshrub with camels and horses, but grazing-tolerant plants prevailed (60%) at shrubL with the largest livestock number. Plant coverage increased significantly along the transects at Bshrub and Sshrub but showed no meaningful change at shrubL. Herbaceous plant biomass showed significant positive and negative trends at Bshrub and shrubL, respectively.>


Both grazing and trampling can produce larger fractions of inedible plants; in this, camel and horses can have considerable effects on desert-steppe plant communities through trampling.

Keywords: Mongolia; Desert steppe; Well; Livestock grazing and trampling; Plant community

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Journal of Ecology and Environment

pISSN 2287-8327 eISSN 2288-1220