Linking Pastoralism and Landscape Ecology in Laikipia Ryan R. Unks Integrative Conservation in Forestry and Natural Resources University of Georgia July 16th, 2014 Pastoralism • Specialized breeds of livestock that tolerate drought, high heat, and migration • Milk production rather than consumptive use • Unique Social Structure • Customary Authority – Councils of Elders • Complex networks of reciprocity • Flexible access to temporally and spatially variable resources Semi-arid Ecology • Rainfall limits productivity and is highly variable, leading to spatial heterogeneity of vegetation resources • Access to resources across the landscape buffers against variability (Ash et al. 2002) • Lack of movement can couple resources and herbivores leading to vegetation changes (Hodgkinson 1995, Boone 2011) Photo: Lizzie King Laikipia County Mukogodo Reserve, an “open” system • Historical loss of land during the colonial period and recent loss of access to grazing in areas that were formerly government or absentee-owned land (Letai and Lind 2013) • Market influences on herds, high amounts of sales of small-stock to buy grains and fulfill basic needs (Herren 1987, Hauck 2013) • Large decreases in herd size and changes in composition (lowest #’s of livestock per capita in the region, large increases in small-stock (Herren 1987)) Ecological Change • Increases in unpalatable species • Loss of herbaceous and woody species that are important for pastoralist subsistence • Changes in plant composition with potential implications for ecosystem function and resilience Main Points of Inquiry 1. How are social and institutional factors mediating grazing practices over time at different spatial scales? 2. How are spatial relationships of plant community composition related to changes in grazing practices? 3. What are the implications of interrelated changes in social and ecological dynamics for livelihoods and natural resource management regimes? Methods • 1. Herding Changes – Interviews and Household Surveys underway to determine recent changes in herding and household grazing at the landscape scale • 2. Vegetation Changes • a. Satellite image analysis to analyze the history of vegetation change and structural patterns at the landscape scale • b. Plant Community Ecology methods to explore vegetation composition and structure at fine scales Methods • 3. Implications • Multi-level Institutional Analysis focusing on variability of access to vegetation resources at different spatial scales Exploring synergies between pastoralism, landscape processes, and wildlife conservation Acknowledgements • Support: National Science Foundation Dynamics of • • • • Coupled Natural-Human Systems Advisor: Lizzie King (Odum School of Ecology) Co-advisor and collaborator: Laura German (UGA Anthropology Technician extraordinaire: Wachira Naiputari Lelekung Naiputari, Lesayu Parseroi, Calol Parseroi References Ash, A, Stafford Smith, D & Abel, N. 2002. Land degradation and secondary production in semiarid and arid grazing systems: What is the evidence? In Global desertification: Do humans cause deserts? edited by J Reynolds & D Stafford Smith. Berlin: Dahlem University Press. Boone, R. B., Galvin, K. A., BurnSilver, S. B., Thornton, P. K., Ojima, D. S., & Jawson, J. R. (2011). Using coupled simulation models to link pastoral decision making and ecosystem services. Ecology and Society, 16(2), 6. Herren, U. J. (1987). "The People of Mukogodo Division, Laikipia District: A Historical and Anthropological Baseline." In Laikipia Reports (No.9). Berne, Switzerland: Laikipia Research Programme, University of Berne. Hodgkinson, K. (1995). A model for perennial grass mortality under grazing. In Proceedings of the Fifth International Rangeland Congress. Society for Range Management, Denver, Colorado, USA (pp. 240-241). Kaye-Zwiebel, E. W. (2011). Development aid and community public goods provision: a study of pastoralist communities in Kenya (Doctoral dissertation, Princeton University). Letai, J. and J. Lind (2013). ‘Squeezed from All Sides: Changing Resource Tenure and Pastoralist Innovation on the Laikipia Plateau, Kenya’ in Catley et al. (Eds.) McCabe, J. T. (2004). Cattle bring us to our enemies. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Ludwig, J. A., Wilcox, B. P., Breshears, D. D., Tongway, D. J., & Imeson, A. C. (2005). Vegetation patches and runoff-erosion as interacting ecohydrological processes in semiarid landscapes. Ecology, 86(2), 288-297.