M.A. Environmental Studies and Social Ecology, Prescott College, 2010
Research Interests / Specializations:
nomadic pastoralism; rangeland ecology and management; international development
My research focuses on the social dynamics behind livestock management practices. Why do livestock owners manage their herds the way that they do, and what effects do these patterns have on the landscape? My goal is to link the (political) socioeconomic factors that influence herd and land management decisions to ecological patterns, particularly vegetation composition and cover.
Ultimately, I am concerned about the continuation of nomadic pastoralist cultures and sustenance activities, and continued access to, and conservation of, traditional rangelands. Land rights and autonomy for indigenous groups are central themes of this issue, as nomadic pastoralists the world over are increasingly affected by international and federal pressures such a resource extraction, land grabs, forced settlement, and development projects aimed, either overtly or covertly, at bringing subsistence cultures into the fold of capitalism.
The bulk of my dissertation research, however, is in northwestern Chihuahua, Mexico. On the edge of the Chihuahuan Desert, this region has been dominated by ranching for more than a century, including by millionaires from the US. The landscape now shows highly heterogeneous vegetation patterns with varying degrees of shrub dominance. My research employes remote sensing data, vegetation sampling, and rancher interviews to determine how recently these patterns have emerged and to what degree they were influenced by cattle grazing. Given that ranchers in the area practice a variety of livestock management strategies, I also aim to determine what factors shape these decisions, whether it be economics, climatic patterns, perceived vegetation response, labor availability, or something else. My hope is that this work will uncover best practices as well as the social factors that foster them.
Mailing addressDepartment of Environmental Science, Policy, & Management
130 Mulford Hall #3114
Berkeley, CA 94720