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work package E2

Comparative analysis of ecosystems along a DTP gradient


This work package investigates ecosystem structure and function along grazing gradients using a space-for-time substitution, in which we hypothesize that gradients stretch from tipped to non-tipped conditions. We will investigate several components of the ecosystem along a regional grazing gradient, and local gradients nested therein. Ecological studies will focus on the same communities and freehold farms, subjected to the in-depth anthropological study on the perception and management of DTPs (work package S2). Locally, the selection of specific water points will build upon combined scientific and local knowledge and will be supported by multispectral imagery from the UAV. Altogether we will select 3 communities, which themselves follow a gradient of decreasing population density and/or water point density in the communal area of the Waterberg region. A similar approach will be employed at freehold farms: In each of the three selected farms a stocking density gradient will be arranged using differentially stocked paddocks (over- / moderately / understocked) with local grazing gradients nested therein. We hypothesize that rangelands with high human population densities have crossed the DTP not only nearby the water points but also at greater distances , whereby rangelands of low population density communities have crossed the DTP only nearer water points. Similar processes occur at freehold farms along the differentially stocked paddocks.

Along each gradient, 10 plots will be set up for ecological data collection (10 x 10 m), with 3 subplots of 1 m² nested within plots. The distance of plot spacing along the gradients follows a logarithmic order, i.e. more sampling effort will be undertaken at the start of the gradient. All gradients and plots will be geo-referenced with a differential-GPS for exact localization, allowing potential revisits. Sampling design for all ecosystem components will be harmonized.

Lead Institutions:

University of Bonn

University of Namibia

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