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Abundant resources compensate for the uneven distribution of ungulates in desert regions driven by complex landforms and water sources
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  • Atsushi Tsunekawa,
  • Mitsuru Tsubo,
  • Fei Peng,
  • Yunxiang Cheng

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Atsushi Tsunekawa
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Mitsuru Tsubo
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Fei Peng
Chinese Academy of Sciences
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Yunxiang Cheng
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Strategically managing livestock grazing in arid regions optimizes land use and curtails the damage caused by overcultivation. Controlled grazing preserves soil quality and fosters sustainability despite resource limitations. Uneven resource distribution can lead to diverse grazing patterns and land degradation, particularly in undulating terrains. In this study of a complex desert landscape encompassing dunes and interdunes, we developed a herbivore foraging algorithm based on a Resource Selection Function model. Our findings reveal that cattle prefer areas with abundant vegetation and proximity to water sources while avoiding higher elevations. However, abundant resource availability mitigated these impacts and enhanced the role of water points, particularly during late grazing periods. In summary, resource-driven decisions influence livestock grazing patterns, indicating that effective management should prioritize resource-based strategies such as enhancing food resources near water points as vegetation declines. Further, thoughtful water source placement and the subdivision of pastures into areas with varied terrain are crucial considerations.