Spatially explicit, individual-based modelling of pastoralists' mobility in the rangelands of east Africa
MacOpiyo, Laban Adero
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An agent based-model of mobility of pastoralists was developed and applied to the semi-arid rangeland region extending from southern Ethiopia to northern Kenya. This model was used to investigate temporal adaptation of pastoralists to the spatial heterogeneity of their environment. This dissertation describes the development, structure, and corroboration process of the simulation model, Pastoral Livestock Movement Model (PLMMO). PLMMO is a spatially explicit, individual-based pastoralists-animal foraging and movement model. It simultaneously simulates the foraging and movement behavior of individual pastoralists and their livestock in a rangeland ecosystem. Pastoralists?? herd mobility patterns and other measures of movement were compared to data from field studies. Predictions of the model correspond to observed mobility patterns across seasons. The distances moved were found to be significantly correlated (r2 = 0.927 to 0.977, p<0.0001) to drought and non-drought climatic regimes. The PLMMO model therefore proved to be a useful tool for simulating general movement patterns of pastoralists relative to movement range sizes in the pastoral rangelands of southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya. We then used the PLMMO model to explore the impact of emerging changes in rangeland use in the study area. The ways in which pastoralists?? mobility patterns adapt to emerging challenges in the study area were explored by simulating the following four scenarios: 1) climate change with concomitant reduction in forage yield, 2) climate change with concomitant improvement and higher variability in forage yield, 3) increased livestock population densities and 4) improved access to water. The climate induced change scenario with increased and more variable forage production resulted in the shortest distances moved by pastoralists in comparison to all other scenarios. The total search distances under this scenario were only 20% of normal season distances. The improved water access scenario also returned a significant (p=0.017) drop in distances moved. There was, however, no significant impact on either increase in livestock numbers or reduction in available forage on mobility. We judged the agent-based model PLMMO developed here as a robust system for emulating pastoral mobility in the rangelands of eastern Africa and for exploring the consequences of climate change and adaptive management scenarios.