Subproject 2 – Plant-biochemical constraints of vegetation-environmental feedbacks

Summary & Objectives:

Shrub encroachment is a major threat to the functioning of African savanna ecosystems and their provisioning of services to society. For adjusting those driving factors that are amenable for management, we need to identify how these factors interact with climate change impacts on the savanna ecosystems. 

The specific aims of this project are 

  1. to determine how land use practices may interact with climate change and elevated CO2 to drive vegetation dynamics, using observational and experimental approaches and 
  2. to identify the isolated effect of climate and atmospheric CO2 concentration on the balance between grasses and woody vegetation on a long-term scale, using palaeoecological analyses. 

The results will help us to formulate specific recommendations about land use strategies, which are most suited for adaptive management under global change. In particular, we will be able to test whether current knowledge about sustainable management will still hold when the climate becomes more arid and CO2 levels rise, or whether different strategies are required for adapting to the consequences of global change. Our measure for the appropriateness of rangeland management strategies is whether or not they are likely to reverse or at least not accelerate the on-going process of shrub encroachment, and invasion by annual grasses.


Involved Researchers:

  • Prof. Dr. Ulrike Herzschuh (PI)
  • Prof. Dr. Katja Tielbörger (PI)
  • Dr. Benjamin Mapani (PI)
  • Prof. Isaac Mapaure (PI)
  • Ximena Tabares (PhD Student)
  • Clara Nesongano (PhD Student)
  • Charline Kamburona (associated DAAD PhD student)

 Cooperating Researchers:

  • apl. Prof. Dr. Martin Trauth
  • Prof. Dr. Andreas Fangmeier