GNU LANDSCAPES


ACC has partnered with Colorado State University to explore “Gnu Landscapes,” a name that hints at investigating changes in the landscapes in which wildebeest, or gnu inhabit. This NSF-supported project aims to understand forage availability in fragmented landscapes under variable climates and employs collaring methods to trace the movement and habitat use patterns of 45 wildebeest as they migrate. Through this research, novel modeling approaches are being developed.



Further the healthy coexistence of people and wildlife, and conserve life-giving ecosystems.

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Projects & Progress

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GNU & CLIMATE CHANGE

The landscapes these migratory animals move through are changing. The rangelands they use are being converted into agricultural areas, fenced to enclose or exclude animals, developed for houses, or turned into roads. This dividing of the land into suitable and unsuitable or inaccessible lands we call ‘fragmentation.’ The climate of these rangelands is changing as well. Changes in our atmosphere associated with our use of fossil fuels are projected to increase the variability in rainfall from year to year, so that droughts are more severe and more frequent. Some of these projected changes have already been seen.

The geographic focus is three conservation areas in Kajiado and Narok Districts of Kenya, provide a unique opportunity to study how a grazing animal responds to different levels of fragmentation and vegetation productivity. Within 250 km (155 miles) of each other, the areas are similar in their ecology and contain migratory wildebeest, but have different levels of fragmentation.

These results will shed light on effects on other mobile grazers as well, including livestock, and address sustainability in landscapes shared by wildlife and humans. Broader impacts include: three graduate students trained, results used in university courses, publications produced, land managers in Kenya informed, information shared with citizens from Kenya, the US, and elsewhere, and novel modeling approaches developed.

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Implementing & Funding Partners

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