Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2023, Vol. 33 ›› Issue (8): 1660-1680.doi: 10.1007/s11442-023-2147-1

• Special Issue: Human-environment interactions and Ecosystems • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Understanding the spatial heterogeneity of grazing pressure in the Three-River-Source Region on the Tibetan Plateau

GU Changjun1,2,3(), LIU Linshan1, ZHANG Yili1,2,3,*(), WEI Bo1,2, CUI Bohao1,2, GONG Dianqing1,2   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Land Surface Pattern and Simulation, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. College of Resources and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
    3. National Disaster Reduction Center of China, Ministry of Emergency Management, Beijing 100124, China
  • Received:2022-07-05 Accepted:2023-02-23 Online:2023-08-25 Published:2023-08-29
  • Contact: * Zhang Yili (1962-), Professor, E-mail:
  • About author:Gu Changjun (1992-), specialized in grassland change, climate change, and grazing management. E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    The Second Tibetan Plateau Scientific Expedition and Research(2019QZKK0603);Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences(XDA20040201);National Natural Science Foundation of China(41671104)


Elucidating the distribution of the grazing pressure requires an understanding of the grazing activities. In this study, we analyzed the grazing behavior of yaks in Three-River- Source Region (TRSR) and identified the main factors influencing the distribution of grazing intensity (GI) using trajectory data and remote sensing datasets. Our results revealed that a semi-resident transhumance strategy is employed in this region. The average grazing time (GT) of four GPS collars over the year was 11.84 h/day (N6), 11.01 h/day (N11), 9.25 h/day (N18), and 11.61 h/day (N24). GT was generally higher in warm seasons (summer and autumn) than in cold seasons (spring and winter). The average daily moving speed was found to be closely related to the pasture size of different herders and the seasons. Geodetector analysis identified the distance to camp (DOC) as the most important single factor influencing the distribution of GI, explaining up to 52% of the GI variations. However, relying solely on this factor may not accurately depict the actual GI distribution. When pairwise factors interacted, the explanatory power of the model increased, ranging from 34.55% to 63.26%. Our study highlights the importance of considering multiple factors when predicting grazing intensity, as grazing activities tend to cluster near settlements, but other factors may also be influential.

Key words: grazing intensity, GPS-tracking, spatial heterogeneity, yak, Tibetan Plateau