Accounting for monogastric livestock as a driver in global land use and cover change assessments

David A. Eitelberg*, Jasper Van Vliet, Peter H. Verburg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Land systems are described based on various characteristics, including land cover composition and agricultural production. However, it is uncertain to what extent livestock, particularly monogastric livestock, determines land systems. We included monogastrics in a land system classification, and statistically analyzed the land cover composition and agricultural production of otherwise similar land systems with and without monogastric livestock. The results indicate that land systems with monogastrics are statistically different from their counterparts in the classification without monogastrics in terms of grassland area and crop yields, but are less different in terms of tree area, crop area, and ruminant livestock production. We then used a land systems map that includes monogastrics in the classification and a similar map that does not include monogastrics to project future changes in a novel manner that integrates livestock as a determinant of land systems. The results show that including monogastrics in otherwise similar projections yields less cropland intensification and more cropland expansion in several world regions, including Northern Africa and the Middle East. Other regions, such as Europe and Australia, were characterized by less decrease or more increase in tree area in the application with monogastrics, mainly due to the occurrence of open forests with monogastrics. This study prompts a call for improved characterization of land systems for land use and cover change (LUCC) assessments in order to better represent LUCC driven by monogastric livestock.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Land Use Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2017


Funding for this research was obtained from the European Research Council [Grant Number: 311819] (GLOLAND).

FundersFunder number
European Research Council311819


    • land change model
    • land system classification
    • Land use
    • landless livestock


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