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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Boise, Idaho » Northwest Watershed Research Center » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #344548

Title: Spatiotemporal dynamics of cattle behavior and resource selection patterns on East African rangelands: evidence from GPS-tracking

item LIAO, CHAUN - University Of Michigan
item Clark, Pat
item DEGLORIA, STEPHEN - Cornell University
item SHIBIA, MOHAMED - International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) - Kenya

Submitted to: International Journal of Geographical Information Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/3/2018
Publication Date: 1/10/2018
Citation: Liao, C., Clark, P., DeGloria, S., Shibia, M. 2018. Spatiotemporal dynamics of cattle behavior and resource selection patterns on East African rangelands: evidence from GPS-tracking. International Journal of Geographical Information Science. 32(7):1523-1540.

Interpretive Summary: Cattle herded by pastoralists exert considerable influences on the health of East African rangelands, yet our understanding of the factors which drive and shape the distribution and intensity of cattle use and impact is very limited thus impairing our ability to properly manage these threatened resources. In this study, GPS tracking data of herds were used to first, classify cattle behavior into states (e.g., foraging, walking, etc.) and then, behavior-specific patterns of resource selection exhibited by cattle were evaluated relative to varying environmental conditions, herding strategies, and seasons of the year. Forage availability, topography, site, herding strategy, and seasonality all strongly affected resource selectivity exhibited by foraging cattle. These findings and associated details provide critical information to support policy and management decision-making for mobile pastoralism in East Africa.

Technical Abstract: Characterizing cattle behavior is crucial to inferring fine-scale resource selection patterns and improving rangeland management. Neither cattle behavior nor resource selection patterns are well understood, however, due to lack of quantitative, continuous and inter-seasonal monitoring of cattle movement in extensive grazing systems. Based on the integration of GPS-tracking and field observations, this study focused on linking cattle behavioral types with statistical parameters of movement, analyzing spatiotemporal dynamics of behavior, and predicting resource selection patterns in the Borana Zone of southern Ethiopia. We find that different cattle behavioral types were associated with distinct ranges of movement velocity. Distribution of identified cattle behavior varied significantly within the time of day and along the distance gradient from camp locations. Resource selection modeling results indicate that resource availability, topography, site, herding strategy, and seasonality had significant impacts on how cattle select forage resources. Research findings suggest that desired outcomes of extensive herding are to promote forage uptake while reducing energy spent on traveling. Future modeling of cattle resource selection needs to incorporate additional social, environmental, institutional, and cultural factors to better explain the complexity associated with cattle behavior in extensive grazing systems.