Theme 1: Rangeland/Grassland Ecology--Oral Sessions

Description

Rangeland degradation directly affects livestock production, resulting in food insecurity and ecological instability. A shift in vegetation from grass to woody plants has severely affected cattle production in Ethiopian rangelands. Those grass species that are perceived by the pastoralists as highly palatable and desirable are currently decreasing in both quality and quantity. A reason for this decline has been claimed to be degradation owing to overgrazing and climate change. While appropriate management of livestock density in rangelands is essential for sustainable production and grassland ecosystem health, the management of dryland ecosystems is mired in controversy due to the complexity of the ecosystem. This region is categorized as a non-equilibrium environment, though at times it experiences equilibrium characteristics, which makes the management of the Borana rangelands highly complex. A better understanding of grass productivity and its controlling factors in modern savanna ecosystems could be a key to understanding the productivity of savannas and to predict responses to future climatic changes. The development of effective management strategies for responding to climatic variability is often impeded by the lack of a systematic framework for analyzing livestock stocking policies and management practices. Further, effective decision making requires an understanding of the important biotic and abiotic components of rangeland systems, such as the response of rangeland vegetation to environmental stressors: climatic change and herbivorous population dynamics. Previous vegetation studies of the Borana rangelands focused mainly on taxonomic descriptions and rangeland condition assessments. Reseeding of degraded rangelands is a potential management option in eastern African rangelands to enhance the resilience of rangelands. Therefore, it is high time to understand how the native perennial grass individuals respond to increased herbivory under higher drought frequency after reseeding.

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Pre- and Post-Degradation Management of Rangelands: Implications for Sustainable Management

Rangeland degradation directly affects livestock production, resulting in food insecurity and ecological instability. A shift in vegetation from grass to woody plants has severely affected cattle production in Ethiopian rangelands. Those grass species that are perceived by the pastoralists as highly palatable and desirable are currently decreasing in both quality and quantity. A reason for this decline has been claimed to be degradation owing to overgrazing and climate change. While appropriate management of livestock density in rangelands is essential for sustainable production and grassland ecosystem health, the management of dryland ecosystems is mired in controversy due to the complexity of the ecosystem. This region is categorized as a non-equilibrium environment, though at times it experiences equilibrium characteristics, which makes the management of the Borana rangelands highly complex. A better understanding of grass productivity and its controlling factors in modern savanna ecosystems could be a key to understanding the productivity of savannas and to predict responses to future climatic changes. The development of effective management strategies for responding to climatic variability is often impeded by the lack of a systematic framework for analyzing livestock stocking policies and management practices. Further, effective decision making requires an understanding of the important biotic and abiotic components of rangeland systems, such as the response of rangeland vegetation to environmental stressors: climatic change and herbivorous population dynamics. Previous vegetation studies of the Borana rangelands focused mainly on taxonomic descriptions and rangeland condition assessments. Reseeding of degraded rangelands is a potential management option in eastern African rangelands to enhance the resilience of rangelands. Therefore, it is high time to understand how the native perennial grass individuals respond to increased herbivory under higher drought frequency after reseeding.