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Keywords:

  • General equilibrium ecosystem model;
  • cheatgrass;
  • cattle grazing behavior;
  • rangeland management

Abstract

This paper reconciles two sets of literature with regard to the interactive ecological and economic impacts of invasive grass species and cattle stocking. We model cattle as optimal foragers, satiation foragers, and proportional foragers in order to understand the impact that each assumption imposes on predicted economic and ecological outcomes. Through this model sensitivity (as opposed to parameter sensitivity) analysis, we are able to identify three main drivers of plant invasions: exogenous forces such as climate change or nitrogen deposition, poor land management decisions, and a misalignment of incentives between cattle and ranchers even when ranchers behave optimally.