DOWHANIUK, GOLDMANRYAN – Park isolation in anthropogenic landscapes: land change and livelihoods at park boundaries in the African Albertine Rift

Jonathan Salerno, Colin A. Chapman, Jeremy E. Diem, Nicholas Dowhaniuk, Abraham Goldman, Catrina A. MacKenzie, Patrick Aria Omeja, Michael W. Palace, Rafael Reyna-Hurtado, Sadie J. Ryan, Joel Hartter

Article first published online: 14 NOV 2017 Regional Environmental Change

DOI: 10.1007/s10113-017-1250-1

ABSTRACT: Landscapes are changing rapidly in regions where rural people live adjacent to protected parks and reserves. This is the case in highland East Africa, where many parks are increasingly isolated in a matrix of small farms and settlements. In this review, we synthesize published findings and extant data sources to assess the processes and outcomes of park isolation, with a regional focus on people’s livelihoods at park boundaries in the Ugandan Albertine Rift. The region maintains exceptionally high rural population density and growth and is classified as a global biodiversity hotspot. In addition to the impacts of increasing numbers of people, our synthesis highlights compounding factors—changing climate, increasing land value and variable tenure, and declining farm yields—that accelerate effects of population growth on park isolation and widespread landscape change. Unpacking these processes at the regional scale identifies outcomes of isolation in the unprotected landscape—high frequency of human-wildlife conflict, potential for zoonotic disease transmission, land and resource competition, and declining wildlife populations in forest fragments. We recommend a strategy for the management of isolated parks that includes augmenting outreach by park authorities and supporting community needs in the human landscape, for example through healthcare services, while also maintaining hard park boundaries through traditional protectionism. Even in cases where conservation refers to biodiversity in isolated parks, landscape strategies must include an understanding of the local livelihood context in order to ensure long-term sustainable biodiversity protection.

Read the full publication at Regional Environmental Change






Wild Futures in Conservation and Climate

November 9th, 3pm, Rion Ballroom, Reitz Union

Mac Stone, Conservation Photographer, Author and Educator

Title: Dispatches from the Field – A World in Flux

Mac Stone travels the globe to bring back stories from the frontiers where mankind and the natural world collide. Copies of Mac’s book Everglades: America’s Wetland will be available to purchase.

Shaun Martin, Senior Director, Climate Change Adaptation, and Resilience at World Wildlife Fund

Title: Learning to Live with Climate Change

Shaun will discuss the need to consider climate change risks on biodiversity and natural resources and the necessary paradigm shift in conservation away from managing for persistence to facilitating change.

The Kevin and Jeannette Malone Distinguished Scholar Series began in 2014 with a generous donation for the purpose of bringing world class scholars and educational opportunities to the University of Florida. The invited scholars have been renowned experts in fields such as food security, sustainable development, climate and energy, wildlife and natural systems, resource policies, and other environmentally-focused research. In addition to delivering a lecture to both campus and the public, the scholars meet with students, faculty, and private industry partners to discuss their work, establish potential collaborations, and develop continuing relationships with the University of Florida.

Supplement your major with an understanding of the atmosphere and awareness of the societal impacts of natural hazards and climate change. The certificate is designed for students seeking employment as climatologists, broadcast meteorologists, water district managers, those interested in environmental issues, to prepare for graduate studies, or those who just love the weather.

ecological-modelingBUNTING, SOUTHWORTH – Utilization of the SAVANNA model to analyze future patterns of vegetation cover in Kruger National Park under changing climate

Erin L. Bunting, Timothy Fullman, Gregory Kiker, Jane Southworth

Article first published online: 17 OCT 2016 Ecological Modelling

DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2016.09.012


Within southern Africa’s savanna ecosystems, woody and herbaceous species have differing growth characteristics that allow a tenuous co-existance. The high dependence of humans on the landscape, through agricultural production, tourism, and natural resource extraction makes understanding savanna vegetation dynamics essential. Studies analyzing resilience of savannas suggest potential state changes in vegetation structure from continuous grasslands with sporadic woody cover to less biologically productive landscapes. One of the biggest questions in this landscape is the impact of climate change. The spatially explicit SAVANNA model is used to analyze the impact of climate change on vegetation cover across Kruger National Park’s (KNP) main land system classifications (Satara, Skukuza, Letaba, and Phalaborwa). Manipulating climate inputs and management regimes allowed us to analyze the resilience of savanna vegetation under multiple Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scenarios. Trends in future climate indicate an increase in temperatures greater than 1.0 °Celsius and a slight decrease in precipitation by 2080. Model results indicate a long-term decrease in multiple size classes of vegetation across all the four land systems. However, the model runs show differing response to climate change between the woody and herbaceous cover types. Spatial trends across the park follow closely with the north-south climate gradient. The most spatially distinct land system was Skukuza, which exhibited some of the highest initial net primary production (NPP) values and also the greatest decreases in NPP into the future. While this region is projected to lose large proportions of its herbaceous and shrub vegetation it is projected to increase in tree green leaf, mostly related to increasing fine leaf vegetation (Acacia sp.). The northern land systems were already dominated by mopane, but under all model scenarios mopane will increase in Letaba and Phalaborwa. This mopane increase will offset the loss of herbaceous and shrub vegetation, resulting in little to no decrease in NPP across time for these land systems. This work illustrates that landscape resilience is not only impacted by the severity of changing climate but the degree to which we manage such systems.

Read the full publication at Ecological Modelling

MOSSA – How much is enough? An integrated examination of energy security, economic growth and climate change related to hydropower expansion in Brazil

Fernando Almeida Prado Jr., Simone Athayde, Joann Mossa, Stephanie Bohlman, Flavia Leite, Anthony Oliver-Smith

Article first published online: January 2016 Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews

DOI: 10.1016/j.rser.2015.09.050

ABSTRACT: Reconciling economic growth and energy supply with the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and other goals for environmental protection is a major challenge for emerging economies such as Brazil. Establishing energy security standards consistent with realistic economic growth projections while considering climate change requires complex calculations and relies upon risky assumptions. Yet, such calculations and decisions must be made to avoid future energy shortages and economic crises. This paper discusses the current dilemma concerning planning and decision-making for the Brazilian electric sector considering the construction of hydroelectric power plants in the Amazon region, energy security requirements, projected economic growth and climate change feedbacks.

Read the full publication at Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews

Image courtesy Dr. Sadie Ryan
Image courtesy Dr. Sadie Ryan

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A larger portion of Africa is currently at high risk for malaria transmission than previously predicted, according to a new University of Florida mapping study.

Under future climate regimes, the area where the disease can be transmitted most easily will shrink, but the total transmission zone will expand and move into new territory, according to the study, which appears in the current issue of the journal Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases.

By 2080, the study shows, the year-round, highest-risk transmission zone will move from coastal West Africa, east to the Albertine Rift, between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. The area suitable for seasonal, lower-risk transmission will shift north into coastal sub-Saharan Africa.

Most striking, some parts of Africa will become too hot for malaria.

The overall expansion of malaria-vulnerable areas will challenge management of the deadly disease, said lead author Sadie Ryan, an assistant professor of geography at the University of Florida who also is affiliated with UF’s Emerging Pathogens Institute.

Malaria will arrive in new areas, posing a risk to new populations, she said, and the shift of endemic and epidemic areas will require public health management changes.

“Mapping a mathematical predictive model of a climate-driven infectious disease like malaria allows us to develop tools to understand both spatial and seasonal dynamics, and to anticipate the future changes to those dynamics,” Ryan said.

Cerebral malaria, caused by the parasite Plasmodium falciparum transmitted by the Anopheles gambiae mosquito, is the most deadly form of the disease, killing around 584,000 people each year. Malaria can cause organ failure, unconsciousness, and coma, if left untreated, and is a major cause of decreased economic productivity in affected regions.

The study uses a model that takes into account the real, curved, physiological responses of both mosquitoes and the malaria parasite to temperature. This model shows an optimal transmission temperature for malaria that, at 25 degrees Celsius, is 6 degrees Celsius lower than previous predictive models.

This work will play an important role in helping public health officials and NGOs plan for the efficient deployment of resources and interventions to control future outbreaks of malaria and their associated societal costs, Ryan said.

The collaborative research team includes experts in epidemiology, public health, ecology, entomology, mathematical modeling and geography. In addition to Ryan, other team members are Amy McNally (NASA), Leah Johnson (University of South Florida), Erin A. Mordecai (Stanford University), Tal Ben-Horin (Rutgers), Krijn Paaijmans (Universitat de Barcelona) and Kevin D. Lafferty (University of California, Santa Barbara).

The work expands upon the team’s prior work at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

RYAN – Mapping Physiological Suitability Limits for Malaria in Africa Under Climate Change

Ryan Sadie J., McNally Amy, Johnson Leah R., Mordecai Erin A., Ben-Horin Tal, Paaijmans Krijn, and Lafferty Kevin

Article first published online: 18 Nov 2015 Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases

DOI: 10.1089/vbz.2015.1822

ABSTRACT: We mapped current and future temperature suitability for malaria transmission in Africa using a published model that incorporates nonlinear physiological responses to temperature of the mosquito vector Anopheles gambiae and the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. We found that a larger area of Africa currently experiences the ideal temperature for transmission than previously supposed. Under future climate projections, we predicted a modest increase in the overall area suitable for malaria transmission, but a net decrease in the most suitable area. Combined with human population density projections, our maps suggest that areas with temperatures suitable for year-round, highest-risk transmission will shift from coastal West Africa to the Albertine Rift between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda, whereas areas with seasonal transmission suitability will shift toward sub-Saharan coastal areas. Mapping temperature suitability places important bounds on malaria transmissibility and, along with local level demographic, socioeconomic, and ecological factors, can indicate where resources may be best spent on malaria control.

Read the full publication at Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases