Potential climate change impacts on four biophysical indicators of cattle production from western US rangelands

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This study examined multiple environmental factors related to climate change that affect cattle production on rangelands to identify sources of vulnerability among seven regions of the western United States. Analyses indicated 1) an increase in forage quantity in northern regions; 2) a move from woody dominance toward grassier vegetation types overall but with considerable spatial heterogeneity; 3) a substantial increase in the number of heat-stress days across all regions beginning as early as 2020–2030; and 4) higher interannual variability of forage quantity for most regions. All four factors evaluated in tandem suggest declining production in southern and western regions.