Navigation Links
Traditional ranching practices enhance African savanna
Date:5/1/2013

New Haven, Conn. That human land use destroys natural ecosystems is an oft-cited assumption in conservation, but ecologists have discovered that instead, traditional ranching techniques in the African savanna enhance the local abundance of wild, native animals. These results offer a new perspective on the roles humans play in natural systems, and inform ongoing discussions about land management and biodiversity conservation.

For thousands of years, pastoralists in East African savannas have penned their cattle overnight in brush-walled corrals, called bomas. Bomas remain in use for about a year, resulting in tons of manure that fertilizes these small areas. After abandonment, a lush carpet of grass springs up and these fertile "glades" sometimes as large as a football field remain visibly distinct from the surrounding savanna for over a century.

The team of ecologists, based at the Mpala Research Center in Kenya, found that trees close to the edges of glades grew faster and were generally larger than trees elsewhere in the savanna. They also found more insects and, the particular focus of the study, higher densities of a native species of gecko, Lygodactylus keniensis.

"The effect of these glades is clear," said Colin Donihue, the Yale University doctoral student who led the research, which is described in Ecology's April issue. "Our findings are particularly exciting given how long glades persist in the savanna. This means that even decades after the pastoralists move on, they leave fertile footprints across the landscape that significantly alter the dynamics of the entire ecosystem."

Previous research has shown that glades are the preferred grazing sites of many large African mammals. Donihue et al.'s research uniquely demonstrates that the effects of glades cascade to a far broader swath of the savanna's plant and animal inhabitants.

The researchers also measured the interacting effects of nearby glades. Unexpectedly, the area between two close glades had some of the lowest gecko lizard densities and tree growth rates of the entire study. "This result was a surprise to us," Donihue said, "and has important management implications as we think about integrating knowledge from agrarian cultures and traditions into modern ranching practice."

The surprising result may be due to cattle overuse of the area between an established boma and nearby glade. Further experiments are currently underway at the research center to explore this pattern and determine optimal distances between bomas.

It is important to note that over-grazing can have myriad detrimental impacts on ecosystems. This project simply demonstrates that traditional corralling techniques in Kenya leave a landscape-scale legacy that can bolster local abundances of native plants and animals.

"With human populations booming, we must look beyond the 'leave no trace' conservation ethic," said Donihue. "We must strive to find ways that our impacts on ecosystems can work in concert with natural processes. Our study suggests that traditional practices, honed over millennia, offer insightful lessons on how to do it."


'/>"/>

Contact: Colin Donihue
colin.donihue@yale.edu
Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Ag, big data, and traditional knowledge headline the Ecological Society of Americas 2013 Meeting
2. Dont be fooled: Flowers mislead traditional taxonomy
3. Traditional fisheries management approach jeopardizes marine ecosystems worldwide
4. By adding VSL#3 probiotic to traditional therapies UC patients can improve remission rates
5. Pain relief with PAP injections may last 100 times longer than a traditional acupuncture treatment
6. Some improved cookstoves may emit more pollution than traditional mud cookstoves
7. The Japanese traditional therapy, honokiol, blocks key protein in inflammatory brain damage
8. Molecular 2-way radio directs nerve cell branching and connectivity
9. Diverse bacteria on fresh fruits, vegetables vary with produce type, farming practices
10. Stronger support needed for healthy beverage practices in child care
11. Turf study to monitor runoff, establish fertilizer management practices
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/21/2016)... -- Unique technology combines v ...   Xura, Inc. (NASDAQ: ... communications services, today announced it is working alongside SpeechPro ... particularly those in the Financial Services Sector, the ability ... a mobile app, alongside, and in combination with, traditional ...
(Date:3/15/2016)... 2016 Yissum Research Development Company of ... of the Hebrew University, announced today the formation of ... of various human biological indicators. Neteera Technologies has completed ... private investors. ... of electromagnetic emissions from sweat ducts, enables reliable and ...
(Date:3/11/2016)... , March 11, 2016 ... market research report "Image Recognition Market by Technology (Pattern ... and Advertising), by Deployment Type (On-Premises and Cloud), by ... 2022", published by MarketsandMarkets, the global market is expected ... USD 29.98 Billion by 2020, at a CAGR of ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:4/27/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... April 27, 2016 , ... ... of cannabis testing technology at the Spring 2016 Marijuana Business Conference and Expo. ... pesticides, residual solvents, heavy metals, and more. Expo attendees can stop by booth ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... ... April 27, 2016 , ... ... mobile devices with fingerprint recognition for secure access, voice recognition for hands-free communication, ... ways consumers are interacting with biometrics technology today. But if they asked ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. , April 27, ... ) announced today that Martine Rothblatt , Ph.D., ... provide an overview and update on the company,s business ... Care Conference. The presentation will take place ... Time, and can be accessed via a live webcast ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... ... April 27, 2016 , ... ... Clark has joined the company as an Expert Consultant. Mr. Clark was ... collaborations and managing the development of small molecule monographs based on analytical methods. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: