Talk: “Grasslands and Pastoral Systems: Resilient or Fragile?” — Bangalore, 25th Nov, 2015

  • From:
    November 25, 2015
  • To:
    November 25, 2015
  • Timing:
    9:30AM to 11:30AM
  • Location:
    SAFEDA - Southern Labs
  • City:
  • Website

National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS)
Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Bangalore

Presents a talk on:

Date: 25th November, 2015

Time: 0930 hrs

Speaker: Professor Niall P. Hanan, Centre for Excellence in Geospatial Sciences, South Dakota State University, USA.

Title: “Grasslands and pastoral systems: resilient or fragile?”

Venue: SAFEDA – Southern Labs


What words would we encounter most often if we asked the general public to tell us about semi-arid grazing systems? I suspect “drought”, “degradation”, “desertification” and “famine” might be very common, perhaps laced with references to “overgrazing”, “population growth” and “tragedy of the commons”. In many cases, we would receive similarly pessimistic – and value-laden – responses from the scientific community.

Relatively few people would take a more optimistic position. In this presentation I will explore the roots of the pessimistic narrative and propose some more optimistic perspectives. I will draw on recent studies of long-term vegetation dynamics in West Africa suggesting that Sahelian grasslands are generally more resilient, and less prone to desertification, than previously thought. I will also discuss some of the ecological, hydrological and cultural interactions that make transhuman land use systems appropriate for semi-arid environments.

Dr. Niall Hanan is a community and ecosystem ecologist with particular research interests in the ecological and biogeochemical dynamics of tropical and temperate grasslands and savannas. He approaches these subjects at a range of spatial and temporal scales, from detailed plot-based experimentation, to landscape-scale observations, to landscape, regional and continental scale remote sensing and modeling. His on-going research includes studies of coupled ecohydrological and social systems in the semi-arid grazing lands of the African Sahel, Africa-wide carbon cycle measurement, remote sensing and modeling, and studies of changing patterns of land use, access to resources and social conflict in agricultural and pastoral communities of West Africa. Hanan’s research is currently supported via grants from the US National Science Foundation (NSF), NASA and the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Earlier sponsors have included the Department of Energy (DOE), NOAA, National Geographic Society, and others. Hanan completed his PhD at Queen Mary College, London.

Please join us for Tea after the talk.

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