Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Persistent and novel threats to the biodiversity of Kazakhstan’s steppes and semi-deserts

May 10, 2016

Temperate grasslands have suffered disproportionally from conversion to cropland, degradation and fragmentation. A large proportion of the world’s remaining near-natural grassland is situated in Kazakhstan. We aimed to assess current and emerging threats to steppe and semi-desert biodiversity in Kazakhstan and evaluate conservation research priorities. We conducted a horizon-scanning exercise among conservationists from academia and practice. We first compiled a list of 45 potential threats. These were then ranked by the survey participants according to their perceived severity, the need for research on them, and their novelty. The highest-ranked threats were related to changes in land use (leading to habitat loss and deterioration), direct persecution of wildlife, and rapid infrastructure development due to economic and population growth. Research needs were identified largely in the same areas, and the mean scores of threat severity and research need were highly correlated. Novel threats comprised habitat loss by photovoltaic and wind power stations, climate change and changes in agriculture such as the introduction of biofuels. However, novelty was not correlated with threat severity or research priority, suggesting that the most severe threats are the established ones. Important goals towards more effective steppe and semi-desert conservation in Kazakhstan include more cross-sector collaboration (e.g. by involving stakeholders in conservation and agriculture), greater allocation of funds to under-staffed areas (e.g. protected area management), better representativeness and complementarity in the protected area system and enhanced data collection for wildlife monitoring and threat assessments (including the use of citizen-science databases).

Publication Year 2016
Title Persistent and novel threats to the biodiversity of Kazakhstan’s steppes and semi-deserts
DOI 10.1007/s10531-016-1083-0
Authors Johannes Kamp, Maxim A Koshkin, Tatyana M Bragina, Todd E. Katzner, E. J. Milner-Gulland, Dagmar Schreiber, Robert Sheldon, Alyona Shmalenko, Ilya Smelansky, Julien Terraube, Ruslan Urazaliev
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Biodiversity and Conservation
Index ID 70170904
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center