Linking livestock snow disaster mortality and environmental stressors in the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau: Quantification based on generalized additive models.

Research paper by Yijia Y Li, Tao T Ye, Weihang W Liu, Yu Y Gao

Indexed on: 31 Dec '17Published on: 31 Dec '17Published in: Science of the Total Environment


Livestock snow disaster occurs widely in Central-to-Eastern Asian temperate and alpine grasslands. The effects of snow disaster on livestock involve a complex interaction between precipitation, vegetation, livestock, and herder communities. Quantifying the relationship among livestock mortality, snow hazard intensity, and seasonal environmental stressors is of great importance for snow disaster early warning, risk assessments, and adaptation strategies. Using a wide-spatial extent, long-time series, and event-based livestock snow disaster dataset, this study quantified those relationships and established a quantitative model of livestock mortality for prediction purpose for the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau region. Estimations using generalized additive models (GAMs) were shown to accurately predict livestock mortality and mortality rate due to snow disaster, with adjusted-R2 up to 0.794 and 0.666, respectively. These results showed that a longer snow disaster duration, lower temperatures during the disaster, and a drier summer with less vegetation all contribute significantly and non-linearly to higher mortality (rate), after controlling for elevation and socioeconomic conditions. These results can be readily applied to risk assessment and risk-based adaptation actions.