Research Questions and Design

The Mongolian Rangelands and Resilience (MOR2) project aims to advance understanding of the role of community-based natural resource management institutions in building the resilience of coupled systems to climate change. Four overarching research questions frame this investigation:
  1. How resilient or vulnerable are Mongolian pastoral social-ecological systems to climate change?
  2. Does community-based rangeland management (CBRM) increase coupled systems’ resilience to climate change?
  3. What are the implications of temporal and spatial scales, and differing physical, ecological, and social system boundaries for understanding and managing the resilience of coupled systems?
  4. Can participatory system modeling and scenario planning improve within-and cross-scale learning, knowledge integration, and adaptation?

Map of study sites

Study Design

  • MOR2 collected ecological, social and physical data in 36 soum in central and eastern Mongolia (see map) in 2011-2013.
  • 18 of the study soum are home to formal community-based rangeland management groups, and the other 18 have only traditional herder neighborhoods.
  • In each soum, we studied 2-9 herder groups or neighborhoods.
  • Ecological samples were collected at 3 50 x 50 m plots near one winter shelter used by each group. Plots were located 100-m, 500-m and 1000-m from the shelter to study the effects of grazing pressure on plants and soils. Data on soil characteristics, plant biomass and plant cover were collected.
  • Social data collection, included interviews with soum officials and herder group leaders, focus groups with soum residents and herder group members, and surveys with 5 households in each group or neighborhood (10-45 surveys per soum), and soum-level statistics.
  • In some soums, we also collected data on streamflow, herder observations of environmental change, and detailed information on movement patterns.