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Land use for animal production in global change studies: Defining and characterizing a framework

Phelps, Leanne N., Kaplan, Jed O.
Global change biology 2017 v.23 no.11 pp. 4457-4471
aerosols, biodiversity, biogeochemical cycles, global change, greenhouse gases, hydrology, inventories, land cover, land use, land use and land cover maps, livestock production, models, pastures, production technology, rangelands, soil
Land use for animal production influences the earth system in a variety of ways, including local‐scale modification to biodiversity, soils, and nutrient cycling; regional changes in albedo and hydrology; and global‐scale changes in greenhouse gas and aerosol concentrations. Pasture is furthermore the single most extensive form of land cover, currently comprising about 22–26% of the earth's ice‐free land surface. Despite the importance and variable expressions of animal production, distinctions among different systems are effectively absent from studies of land use and land cover change. This deficiency is improving; however, livestock production system classifications are rarely applied in this context, and the most popular global land cover inventories still present only a single, usually poorly defined category of “pasture” or “rangeland” with no characterization of land use. There is a marked lack of bottom‐up, evidence‐based methodology, creating a pressing need to incorporate cross‐disciplinary evidence of past and present animal production systems into global change studies. Here, we present a framework, modified from existing livestock production systems, that is rooted in sociocultural, socioeconomic, and ecological contexts. The framework defines and characterizes the range of land usage pertaining to animal production, and is suitable for application in land use inventories and scenarios, land cover modeling, and studies on sustainable land use in the past, present, and future.