The Workshop for Enhancing Collaborative Research on the Environment in Sub-Saharan Africa Arlington, Virginia usa 24-26 January 2005


Biocomplexity of the Greater Serengeti - Humans in a Biologically Diverse Ecosystem

Michael Coughenour and Kathy Galvin, Colorado State University

Craig Packer and Steve Polasky, University of Minnesota

Mark Ritchie, Syracuse University

Bob Holt

University of Florida

This poster summarized the aims of an NSF Biocomplexity project that is underway. The Serengeti is a complex ecosystem with pervasive linkages between human welfare and the functioning of a diverse natural system. To study the coupling of natural ecosystem functioning and human decision-making in the greater Serengeti, four modeling approaches will be used. 1. Process-rich, spatially explicit ecosystem simulation models will be developed to predict changes in plant and animal communities, human use of landscapes at different scales. 2. Agent-based models will incorporate individual decision-making rules in a spatially explicit environment 3. Analytical models of community modules will explore interactions among 5-10 key species~ and 4. Macro-ecological models will describe system patterns and processes as functions of major resource inputs, such as rainfall and soil nutrients. These models will explore emergent dynamics of the Serengeti at various organizational scales.

The theory of complex systems proposes that emergent properties can arise from relatively simple underlying mechanisms propagated in space and time. Thus the vulnerability of humans and sustainability of biodiversity in the Serengeti may be driven by a few critical constraints that operate independently of individual components. These constraints arise from fundamental laws/principles in psychology, biology, chemistry and physics that constrain key biological processes and human decisions. Alternatively, complex systems may be sensitive to small differences in initial conditions and show a tendency to switch between alternative states. This sensitivity suggests that biodiversity and human welfare may be highly contingent on details such as individual behavior, the identity of the species participating and the precise spatial arrangement of interactions among humans, plants, animals and diseases. The Serengeti provides a unique opportunity to test this hypothesis since its component parts are so conspicuous and its dynamical patterns have been measured for 40 yrs. Finally, emergent system properties may be contingent on just a few critical components, which would imply that the Serengeti can be understood from networks of interaction among a few key species of plants/animals and humans


Regulation of Hydrologic and C Cycles by Native Shrubs in Soils of Sub-Sahelian Africa

Richard P. Dick, Ohio State University

A. Badiane M. Sene M. Khouma and S. Ndiaye, Institut Sénégalais de Recherches Agricoles, Senegal

Jay Noller and Maria Dragila, Oregon State University

Desertification and degradation of soils in Sub-Sahelian Africa is serious and likely reducing agricultural productivity and there is interest in storing C in soils of these landscapes. Assessing soil degradation and C sequestration potential is spatially and temporally complex in this semiarid landscape. We have identified a largely unrecognized component of the semi-arid Sahel; woody shrubs (Piliostigma reticulatum and Guiera senegalensis) that voluntarily regrow in farmers’ fields after the summer cropping season, which appear to be more important than trees or organic inputs such as animal manures in regulating C inputs/sequestration and hydrologic processes. Under current management, farmers cut and burn the shrub biomass each spring that may not be the most effective way of managing this organic residue. Also, we theorized that these shrubs might do “hydraulic lift” of water from wet sub soils to the dry surface. This could drive rhizosphere processes in “dry” soil such as nutrient mineralization/C cycling and possibly provide small amounts of water to shallow rooting crops. Our overall goal is to determine the unrecognized role of shrubs as key determinants in sequestration of C, water relations and soil degradation mitigation in the semiarid ecosystem of Senegal that is representative of much of Sub-Sahelian Africa. The approach includes: (1) rapid participatory surveys of rural communities; (2) landscape spatial analysis of shrubs; (3)detailed studies of how shrubs control C/N/P cycling, soil microbiology and soil physical properties; (4) studies of water relations of shrubs and soils; and (5) modeling C cycling relative to shrub management over decadal periods.


Evaluation and Applications of Remotely Sensed Vegetation Indices as Rainfall Data Surrogates in Drylands

Dr. Nicholas Georgiadis and Nasser Olwero, Mpala Research Centre, Email: njg@

In African drylands, vital ecological and economic processes are, by definition, driven largely by rainfall, including agricultural and livestock production, household and regional economies, wildlife and ecosystem dynamics. Rainfall data are needed to run ecological simulations and improve economic projections for drylands, but gauged data are typically lacking or inadequate. Remotely sensed indices have long been available to estimate rainfall (e.g. products from Meteosat) and monitor vegetation responses to rainfall (e.g. products from AVHRR) over vast areas. But these data and even their derivatives (e.g. FEWS), are severely under-used, due to lack of awareness about or confidence in the data, lack of access to the internet and high cost of software to handle spatial datasets.

The Ewaso Ecosystem in northern Kenya, a region characterized by steep altitudinal and climatic gradients, is richly endowed with long-term rainfall records and ideally suited to an evaluation of gauged rainfall surrogates. Using a modeling approach we show that low-resolution Meteosat rainfall estimates for this system are both inaccurate and biased. However, vegetation indices at both low resolution (8 km pixels from AVHRR) and higher resolution (250m pixels from MODIS) provide highly informative rainfall surrogates. Up to 84% of the intra-annual variation in observed NDVI can be accounted by simple models estimating NDVI solely from rainfall. We use these models to demonstrate systematic changes across the rainfall gradient in 1) rainfall use efficiency and 2) the responsiveness of vegetation to a standardized rainfall event.

Management applications of NDVI data in this system include:

  1. comparison of vegetation productivity under different land use regimes;

  2. using NDVI to drive a simulation model of zebra population dynamics;

  3. using integrated NDVI to evaluate food availability for a declining hartebeest population;

  4. using changing patterns of NDVI to predict the timing and location of crop raiding by elephants.

With faster internet access there is potential to use these vegetation indices to better understand ecosystem productivity, monitor and plan changes in land use and predict vegetation responses to climate change. We seek research partnerships to achieve these goals.


A Quantitative Focus on Wildlife Conservation and Diseases in Africa

Wayne Getz

Environmental. Scence,. Policy and Managment. (ESPM),University. of California at Berkeley and Mammal Research. Insitute. (MRI), Univ. of Pretoria, South Africa Email:

Johan du Toitand Craig Tambling, MRI, University of Pretoria, South Africa

Markus Hofmeyer, Game Capture Unit, Kruget National Park, South Africa

Shirli Bar-David, James Lloyd-Smith, Maria Sanchez, Paul Cross andy Lyons, Sadie Ryan, Wendy Turner and George Wittemyer, ESPM, University of California at Berkeley

A group, under the direction of Wayne Getz at UC Berkeley (Getz Lab), drawing graduate students from the ESPM and Biophysics Programs at Berkeley and the MRI graduate program at the University of Pretoria, focuses on developing new quantitative techniques to address problems in epidemiology and conservation biology across Africa. The largest project of the Getz Lab at this time is a study of the spread of Bovine TB in African Buffalo in the Kruger National Park, South Africa. This project is funded by the NSF/NIH Ecology of Infectious Disease Program and administered in collaboration with the MRI, headed by Johan du Toit, at the University of Pretoria. The field component of the project is directed by Paul Cross, a graduating Ph.D. student from the Getz Lab and is overseen by Markus Hofmeyr for the Kruger National Park, Scientific Services group of SANParks (South African National Parks). Also, in South Africa, the Getz Lab helped develop and establish a South African Department of Science and Technology funded Center of Excellence for Epidemiological Modeling and Analysis (SACEMA: and has been active in setting up SACEMA based programs to study the HIV pandemic and the resurgence of TB in Africa.

Three members of the Getz Group have established projects outside of South Africa. George Wittemyer, in collaboration with Iain Douglas Hamilton’s, the Kenyan based, Save the Elephants (STE: /) and the Kenya Wildlife Service, is studying the social behavior and ecology of elephants, with regard to park management and elephant conservation objectives in Kenya’s Samburu National Reserve. Andy Lyons in collaboration with Development Services Initiative, a Zambian NGO, is evaluating the efficacy of community-based wildlife management programs in southern Zambia with a view to developing more effective programs through widespread use of IT technologies. Wendy Turner, in collaboration with the Etosha Ecological Institute, is setting up a program to study gastrointestinal-parasite/anthrax interactions and their role in regulating the plain’s herbivores of Etosha National Park. Finally, the Getz Lab is involved in multi-institutional initiatives to obtain funding from the AHEAD program at Wellcome Trust to study human/live-stock/cattle interactions with regard to the epidemiology of bovine TB in southern and East Africa, as well as the spread of disease through movement of animals promoted by the establishment of transfrontier parks, particularly the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area at the confluence of the South African/Mozambican/Zimbabwean borders.


Consequences of Parks for Land Use, Livelihood Diversification and Biodiversity in East Africa

Abe Goldman, Michael Binford and Jane Southworth, University of Florida,


Colin Chapman and Lauren Chapman, McGill University

J. Terrence McCabe, University of Colorado

Paul Leslie, University of North Carolina

This interdisciplinary collaborative research project examines the interactions among land use, land cover, peoples’ livelihoods and biodiversity in landscapes surrounding Kibale National Park in western Uganda and Tarangire National Park in northern Tanzania. These landscapes are zones of dynamic demographic and land use change, including considerable agricultural expansion and intensification and in some instances, extensive in-migration from other areas. They also often represent zones of competition among ethnic groups and between objectives of the national government and of local land users. At the same time, the areas around the parks remain important habitats for biodiversity, including migratory species as well as those resident in the park or in forest fragments and other undomesticated habitats outside the formal boundaries of the park.

Two complementary research questions are the focus of the project: (1) How does the presence of a park affect agricultural land use and other livelihood strategies surrounding the park? (2) How do the extent, character and intensity of agriculture affect biodiversity outside the park, measured by the distribution of key indicator plant and animal taxa? Two overarching propositions relate to these: (a) the presence of a park will stimulate processes that lead to islandization of the park; and (b) the relationship between biodiversity and agriculture in the landscape surrounding a park is neither dichotomous nor linear, but will be positive under certain land use conditions and negative under others.

The study, which began in summer 2004, includes analysis of satellite imagery to identify landscape patterns and land cover change in recent decades; social science research to analyze the impacts of the parks on land use and risk, livelihoods, differentiation and migration; and biodiversity surveys to assess the presence of key indicator taxa outside the parks and analyze interactions among land cover, land use and biodiversity in those areas.


Dynamics of Change In the Lake Victoria Fisheries

Craig K. Harris

Department of Sociology, Michigan State University

The past 50 years have been extremely turbulent times for the fisheries of Lake Victoria. What stability there may have been 100 years was disrupted by gradually increasing human extraction of fisheries resources and then greatly disturbed by the introduction of a highly efficient top predator, the Nile perch (Lates niloticus). The Lake Victoria fishery is a tightly coupled human-biogeophysical system. The expansion of the Nile perch stocks created opportunities for profitable investment in harvesting, transporting and processing Nile perch for export. The consumption of the intermediate occupants of the trophic structure by the Nile perch and the export of large fractions of the harvested Nile perch, forced domestic consumers to move farther down the food web and to rely more heavily on small shrimp (Caradina spp.) and small “sardines” (Rastrineobola spp.), which in turn diminishes the forage base for the intermediate consumers. Socioeconomic pressures to maximize return on investment have motivated the owners and managers of physical capital in the fisheries to accelerate fisheries production by fishing more extensively and more intensively, by harvesting fish of smaller sizes and by extending the export fishery to tilapiine species (Oreochromis spp.). This accelerated extraction and production has led to concerns that a crash may be imminent.

As the lake with the second largest surface area in the world and the lake from which the Nile River emanates, Lake Victoria was a target for European explorers. As European colonial powers established plantations and colonial cities, fish from the Lake provided protein for agricultural and urban laborers. Independence for the three riparian nations (Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda) roughly coincided with the appearance of the Nile perch in the fisheries of Lake Victoria. The development of processing and exporting capability was motivated in significant part by the decline of the North Atlantic cod fisheries and the consequent need for a basic whitefish for food service institutional purposes. Although some fish was exported to the Middle East, to Asia and to North America, Europe was the predominant destination for Nile perch and tilapia exports. The dependence on Europe as a buyer for the fish exports gave the European buyers great influence on the extractive and processing activities. The European markets wanted whole fillets of a certain size, even though that size fish might be unlikely to have reached sexual maturity.

These changes in the Lake Victoria fisheries have been accompanied by the elaboration of a management superstructure. On top of the national fisheries departments and research institutions have been piled a regional fisheries organization and a World Bank project. Fisheries science in the region has come to be dominated by external donors, especially the World Bank and the European Union. But the management and the science that result from these arrangements often fail to consider the full range of interests in the Lake Victoria fisheries.


Gobabeb Environmental Observatories Network

Joh Henschel and Mary Seely

Gobabeb Training and Research Centre, Walvis Bay, Namibia, Email:

The Environmental Observatories Network Program of the Gobabeb Training and Research Centre straddles an extremely steep climatic gradient, ranging from hyperarid to arid, with a 300-fold increase in mean rainfall. Monitoring focusing on climatic variability, ephemeral river basin management, biodiversity and natural resource management has been conducted for over 40 years. A range of ecological, climatological, geomorphological and socioeconomic variables are being monitored at Gobabeb. As a SADC Centre of Excellence, the Gobabeb Centre links research that furthers the understanding of an extreme environment to training so as to increase knowledge and skills that facilitate sustainable management of drylands. This African Training and Research Center is an ideal platform for collaborative programs with undergraduates, postgraduates, post-doctorates and visiting scientists coming coming from American academic and research institutions.


Collaborative Regional Climate Modeling Studies and AMMA Field

Experiment Efforts

Gregory S. Jenkins

Howard University Program in Atmospheric Sciences (HUPAS) Email:

Amadou Gaye and Bamba Sylla

Cheikh Anta Diop University (UCAD) –Laboratory for Atmospheric Physics-Simeon Fongang (LPASF)

For the past 3 decades there has been a downward trend on wet season (June-September) rain totals. The causes of below normal rain has been linked to sea surface temperature anomalies (SSTAs), land-use change, natural variability and possibly anthropogenic climate change. The use of global climate models (GCMs) have helped to identify the role of SSTAs in the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans in producing negative precipitation anomalies. Here we show results from a regional climate model that has been driven by NCEP reanalysis from 1960-2002. The results suggest that SSTAs are forcing atmospheric conditions which are passed through the lateral boundary condition creating model simulated below normal rain totals for the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Additional model results will be presented. In order to understand how atmospheric conditions are linked precipitation processes, however, in situ measurements will be required. In 2006, the African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Activities (AMMA) experiment will take place in West Africa. Howard University will partner with UCAD for precipitation, microphysics, aerosol and radiation measurements in Senegal. The objectives and proposed set of measurements are presented at the SSA workshop.


Real-Time Interactive Environmental Teleducation Between the United States and Southern Africa

Stephen A. Macko, Robert J. Swap and Thomas A. Szuba

University of Virginia, Department of Environmental Sciences, Charlottesville, VA 22903, USA


Harold Annegarn and Bane Marjanovic

University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Francisco Vieira and Rui Brito

University of Eduardo Mondlane, Maputo, Mozambique

International education is a natural extension of global economies, global environmental concerns and global science. While faculty and student exchanges between geographic areas permit for educational experiences and cultural exchanges for the privileged few, distance learning offers opportunities for educational exchanges under any circumstance where time, expense, or location otherwise inhibit offering or taking a particular course of study. However, there are severe pedagogical limitations to traditional Web-based courses that suffer from a lack of personalized, spontaneous, exchange between instructor and student. The technology to establish a real time, interactive teleducation program exists, but to our knowledge is relatively untested in a science classroom situation, especially internationally over great distances. In a pilot project during the 2001-02 academic year, we offered a real-time, interactive class at three separate universities, which communicated instantaneously across an ocean at a distance of greater than 8,000 miles and seven time zones. The course, Seminar on the Ecology of African Savannas, consisted of a series of 11 lectures originating in either Mozambique (at the University of Eduardo Mondlane), South Africa (University of the Witwatersrand) or the United States (University of Virginia). We combined ISDN, internet and satellite linkages to facilitate the lectures and real time discussions between instructors and approximately 200 university students in the three countries. Although numerous technical, logistical and pedagogical issues—both expected and unexpected—arose throughout the pilot year, the project can be viewed as overwhelmingly successful and certainly serves as proof-of-concept for future initiatives, both internationally and locally. This review of our experience will help to prepare other students, faculty and institutions interested in establishing or developing international education initiatives.


Livelihood Diversification among the Maasai of Northern Tanzania: Cultivation, Migration and the “New Thinking” in Ecology and Ecological Anthropology

J. Terrence McCabe

Department of Anthropology and the Environment and Behavior Program at the Institute of Behavioral Science, University of Colorado, Boulder Email:

Paul Leslie

Department of Anthropology and the Carolina Population Center, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

In this poster we summarize results from recent NSF funded research focusing on the process of livelihood diversification among the Maasai of northern Tanzania. During the last 50 years the Maasai have adopted cultivation in a series of “waves”, the most recent being in the 1990’s. In addition, Maasai have recently begun to seek work in urban areas, building of their reputation as warriors by working primarily as guards. We also explore how this research articulates with the ‘New Thinking” in ecology and ecological anthropology which incorporates issues such as non equilibrium ecosystems, unpredictability and complexity. We collected information on changing demographic patterns, household economic status, livestock holdings, labor availability and cultural models of success over time. Our results demonstrate an increasing human population and livestock population that has fluctuated around a mean is an important component in the overall explanation for livelihood diversification, but that the process is also influenced by increasing rates of poverty, modernization and the way that people view themselves.


Implementation of a New Wildlife Research Agenda in Tanzania

Charles Mlingwa

Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute, P.O. Box 661, Arusha, Tanzania


The Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute was established in 1980 with the aim of conducting and supervising wildlife research and related activities in country. In 1999 the Institute drew up a New Wildlife Research Agenda to guide its work towards enhancing conservation of wildlife in Tanzania. The drawing up of the new agenda included participation of stakeholders namely national and international researchers both from natural and social sciences, wildlife managers, policy-makers, development supporting agencies and the general public. I present here progress made in the implementation of the research agenda in terms of on-going research programs/projects and call for increased collaboration with the Institute in this work.


Association Liaison Office for University Cooperation in Development

Christine Morfit, Kay Ikranagara and Tony Wagner

Association Liaison Office for University Cooperation in Development1307 New York Ave., NW, Suite 500 Washington, DC 20005 Email: wagnera@

The Association Liaison Office for University Cooperation in Development (ALO) assists the U.S. higher education community build their relationship with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and offers exciting opportunities for higher education institutions to be involved in international development. By internationalizing, the U.S. higher education community can bring the energy, creativity and entrepreneurship that exist on campus to bear on important global challenges and international development activities enhance the excellence and relevance of institutions in other countries and contribute to international and intercultural understanding.

A major focus of ALO activity has been the institutional partnership program. Since 1998, ALO has awarded 243 partnership awards worth over $43 million for work in 61 countries around the world. Of these, 84 grants worth more than $16 million have been awarded to support partnerships with African institutions.

The poster presented at the SSA workshop will feature a brief description of ALO and highlight some of the successful partnerships that have worked in the region on topics of interest to the workshop. These will be presented as examples of the types of opportunities available to workshop participants through ALO programs.

An example of a partnership that will be highlighted is the Montana State University, L’Institut D’Economie Rurale special initiative partnership in Mali. This partnership is addressing the need to build an integrated agricultural field research, extension and graduate education program in Mali. The partnership will develop a stronger collaboration between teaching and research through a “technology incubator center,” joint research projects and shared teaching and dissemination program.


An Overview of African Research in the FSU Climatology Lab

S.E. Nicholson and D. Klotter

Florida State University Email:

This poster describes the various areas of research carried on in the Climatology Lab at FSU. Virtually all projects center on Africa. They span a diverse set of subdisciplines, including various aspects of basic climatology and climate dynamics, remote sensing, hydrology, land-atmosphere interaction, air-sea interaction, paleoclimatology and historical climatology. Within these disciplines, the research falls into three major area: the dynamics of tropical climate, long-term variability and earth system science. The poster indicates the papers published in each area, the major findings of the lab for each area and select examples of major results for each basic area of research.

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