Understanding future threats to western rangelands: modeling the performance of grazing strategies in the face of environmental change.
This paper discusses the need to better integrate species ecology, climate change and human decision making into economic research and management decisions regarding rangeland usage in the western USA. Specifically, a bioeconomic framework is developed, which incorporates a state and transition model (STM) with climate change scenarios in an economic model to evaluate plant production under different stocking rate assumptions. It is concluded that stocking decisions based on a "take half, leave half" rule of thumb will likely have negative impacts on rangeland health and ultimately reduce economic returns to ranchers. It is argued that rangeland systems susceptible to invasive species must be analyzed in this manner if we are to improve our understanding of how to manage them best.