Western Michigan University's Dr. Gregory Veeck was awarded $11,500 by the National Geographic Society Committee for Research and Exploration to support his most recent research project, "An Ecological Economic Multi-Scale Study of China's Grassland Resources." These funds will support more than six months of fieldwork in selected husbandry areas in western China and complement awards he received from the WMU Faculty Research and Creative Activity Award and the Ruth and Milton Scherer Fund. Veeck recently took a two month trip to western Sichuan and northwestern Yunnan Province to survey five counties located at different elevations with distinctive pastoral environments.
Veeck will return to China in the spring to continue surveying arid pasture environments in Gansu Province and Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. The multi-year project, designed by Veeck, is being conducted jointly by Veeck, WMU's Dr. Charles Emerson (Department of Geography) and Professors Zhou Li and Fawen Yu of the Rural Development Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Collecting at multiple scales, the team combines environmental data (vegetation indices, interpolated climate data and elevation) derived from remotely sensed MODIS imagery with intensive field work that incorporates interviews with local official and herding families. The intent is to determine how the nation's pasture quality has changed since 2000 and how these changes have impacted the lives and incomes of herding families. Once these changes are identified, Veeck and his team will look for the correlations between them and changes in livestock counts by type (yak, sheep, goat, cattle, etc.) at the township scale. Veeck is seeking to examine how change in animal stocks co-varies with changes in pasture quality as determined through remote-derived vegetation indices statistically adjusted for variable precipitation and elevation.