Potential biodiversity change in Central Asian grasslands: scenarios for the impact of climate and land-use change

Sarahi Nunez*, Rob Alkemade, Kasper Kok, Rik Leemans

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Central Asian grasslands are extensively used for pastoral livestock grazing. This traditional land use is nowadays characterized by intensifying grasslands into more productive pastures. This change affects biodiversity and diminishes grasslands’ ecological role. Biodiversity impacts are probably also exacerbated by climate change. These changes in biodiversity are poorly studied in Central Asia. Here, we estimated potential biodiversity changes in the Central Asian grasslands using the latest shared socio-economic pathways and the representative concentration pathways (i.e., SSP-RCP scenario framework). We selected scenarios with contrasting socio-economic and climate conditions (i.e., SSP1-RCP4.5, SSP3-RCP8.5, SSP4-RCP4.5, and SSP5-RCP8.5) and further detailed the land-use scenarios for the region using stakeholders’ input. We indicated future biodiversity by the mean species abundance indicator. The contrasting scenario combinations showed that grasslands’ biodiversity will decline under each scenario. The strongest impact on biodiversity is expected in SSP5-RCP8.5, where half of the grasslands are likely to lose most of their local originally occurring species by 2100. The lowest impact is expected in SSP4-RCP4.5. Our study stresses the potential vulnerability of this region to increasing land-use intensity and climate change. These impact projections can help regional decision makers to develop and implement better biodiversity-conservation and sustainable management policies for these grasslands.

Original languageEnglish
Article number39
JournalRegional Environmental Change
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020


  • Biodiversity change
  • Climate change
  • Grasslands
  • Grazing intensification
  • Land-use scenarios


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