Image courtesy Dr. Peter Waylen

Dr. Peter Waylen saw the first fruits of a collaboration with Dr. Chris Annear (Anthropology, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, NY) in a paper entitled Socializing the rain: human adaptation to ecological variability in a fishery, Mweru-Luapula, Zambia, which appeared during the summer in the Journal of Political Ecology. Chris is a young Anthropologist who studied the fishers and fish trader on Lake Mweru and their families. Pete was able to help Chris better understand the fluctuations in lake level and the number and variety of fish caught by considering long term changes in rainfall inputs to the upstream basin. This is a nice example of two people from very disparate disciplinary backgrounds coming together to work on a problem combining both the human and physical dimensions. The second coauthored paper, Interannual Hydroclimatic Variability of the Lake Mweru Basin, Zambia, dealing more with the hydroclimatological characteristics of the basin was published in the journal Water, and brought UF Geography alumna Dr. Erin Bunting into the collaboration.

BUNTING, WAYLENInterannual Hydroclimatic Variability of the Lake Mweru Basin, Zambia

Peter Waylen, Christopher Annear, and Erin Bunting

Article first published online: 29 AUG 2019 Water

DOI: 10.3390/w11091801

ABSTRACT: Annual precipitation inputs to the Lake Mweru basin, Zambia, were computed from historic data and recent gridded data sets to determine historic (1925–2013) changes in lake level and their potential impacts on the important fisheries of the lake. The results highlight a period from the early 1940s to the mid-1960s when interannual variability of inputs doubled. Existing lake level data did not capture this period but they did indicate that levels were positively correlated with precipitation one to three years previously, reflecting the hydrologic storage of the lake, the inflowing Luapula River and the upstream Bangweulu wetland complex. Lag cross-correlations of rainfall to El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Indian Ocean Dipole were weak and spatially and temporally discontinuous. The two drivers were generally positively correlated and induced opposing effects upon annual precipitation and lagged lake levels. This correlation became non-significant during the time of high observed interannual variability and basin inputs were prone to the vagaries of either driver independently or reinforcing drought/excess conditions. During times of high flows and persistent elevated lake levels, breeding habitat for fish increased markedly, as did nutrition supplied from the upstream wetlands. High hydrologic storage ensures that lake levels change slowly, despite contemporary precipitation totals. Therefore, good conditions for the growth of fish populations persisted for several years and populations boomed. Statistical models of biological populations indicated that such temporally autocorrelated conditions, combined with abundant habitat and nutrition can lead the “boom and bust” of fish populations witnessed historically in Lake Mweru.

Read the full publication at Water





WAYLENSocializing the rain: human adaptation to ecological variability in a fishery, Mweru-Luapula, Zambia

Christopher M. Annear, Peter R. Waylen

Article first published online: 23 AUG 2019 Journal of Political Ecology

DOI: 10.2458/v26i1.23246

ABSTRACT: Rainfall drives fishery fertility in Mweru-Luapula, thus rainfall variability contributes to frequent changes in fishing catches. Fishers and traders have adapted their institutions to this variable ecology in a variety of ways, including learning to read the fishery for productive periods and practicing multiple modes of income procurement. By accurately identifying inter-annual, inter-decadal, and longer spans of rainfall trends, future high and low yields can be forecast. This article presents and analyzes annual rainfall in the fishery from 1916-1992 and quantitative fish market data comprised of observed fish catch numbers by species in three markets from September 2004 to September 2005. It uses political ecology to better understand fish production, trade, and subsistence in this South-Central African freshwater fishery. We combine qualitative analysis of fisher and marketer perceptions of the fishery and knowledge of rainfall patterns to show how human behavior is not “tragically” driven, but instead based on the state of the ecological, sociocultural, and socioeconomic environment at a given time.

Read the full publication at Journal of Political Ecology

Image courtesy Sensors

BUNTING, CHILD, HERRERO, SOUTHWORTHIntegrating Surface-Based Temperature and Vegetation Abundance Estimates into Land Cover Classifications for Conservation Efforts in Savanna Landscapes

Hannah Victoria Herrero, Jane Southworth, Erin Bunting, Romer Ryan Kohlhaas, and Brian Child

Article first published online: 07 AUG 2019 Sensors

DOI: 10.3390/s19163456

ABSTRACT: Southern African savannas are an important dryland ecosystem, as they account for up to 54% of the landscape, support a rich variety of biodiversity, and are areas of key landscape change. This paper aims to address the challenges of studying this highly gradient landscape with a grass–shrub–tree continuum. This study takes place in South Luangwa National Park (SLNP) in eastern Zambia. Discretely classifying land cover in savannas is notoriously difficult because vegetation species and structural groups may be very similar, giving off nearly indistinguishable spectral signatures. A support vector machine classification was tested and it produced an accuracy of only 34.48%. Therefore, we took a novel continuous approach in evaluating this change by coupling in situ data with Landsat-level normalized difference vegetation index data (NDVI, as a proxy for vegetation abundance) and blackbody surface temperature (BBST) data into a rule-based classification for November 2015 (wet season) that was 79.31% accurate. The resultant rule-based classification was used to extract mean Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) NDVI values by season over time from 2000 to 2016. This showed a distinct separation between each of the classes consistently over time, with woodland having the highest NDVI, followed by shrubland and then grassland, but an overall decrease in NDVI over time in all three classes. These changes may be due to a combination of precipitation, herbivory, fire, and humans. This study highlights the usefulness of a continuous time-series-based approach, which specifically integrates surface temperature and vegetation abundance-based NDVI data into a study of land cover and vegetation health for savanna landscapes, which will be useful for park managers and conservationists globally.

Read the full publication at Sensors






Images courtesy Ms. Carly Muir and Ms. Audrey Smith
Images courtesy Ms. Carly Muir and Ms. Audrey Smith

Geography Colloquium

Assessing the Recovery of Rainfall in Central Ghana

Speaker: Ms. Carly Muir

Graduate Student, Geography

Inter-spatial Relationship of Child Health & Satellite-derived Vegetation in Zambia

Speaker: Ms. Audrey Smith

Graduate Student, Geography

Thursday, April 7, 2016

3:00-3:50 PM (Period 8)

Turlington Hall Room 3012

University of Florida

All are welcome to attend.

Image courtesy of Mr. Andre McFadden II
Image courtesy of Mr. Andre McFadden II

Recent Geography graduate Mr. Andre McFadden II just received the Best Paper award in the Physical Science Category from UF’s Journal of Undergraduate Research for his paper El Niño – Southern Oscillation and it’s Effect on Rainfall Patterns in the Lake Mweru Basin, Zambia. Andre graduated with a B.A. in Geography with a Certificate in Meteorology and Climatology in December 2015. He wrote the paper as part of a research project with his adviser Dr. Peter Waylen, who recommended that Andre submit it to the Journal of Undergraduate Research.

“I would like to thank the instructors and TAs that I have worked with in the Department of Geography and my research adviser Dr. Waylen for giving me the opportunity to do research and write a paper,” said Andre. “I also would like to thank a former undergraduate student Marlee Henninge who introduced me to Dr. Waylen and Undergraduate Research.”

Andre intends to attend the SouthEastern Division of the Association of American Geographers (SEDAAG) conference in November, and is preparing to apply for graduate school.

“This experience has opened my eyes to new opportunities in research and I am going to take full advantage of it,” says Andre.