Trajectories of land cover change in semi-arid regions of East Africa and its impact on biodiversity and ecosystem services.

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Sarah Johnson

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Start Year

2016 (Cohort 3)

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PhD Project
PhD Title

Trajectories of land cover change in semi-arid regions of East Africa and its impact on biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Research Theme

Biodiversity and Ecology

Primary Supervisor
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Secondary Supervisor
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CASE Partner

Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI)

CASE Supervisor

Dr Urs Schaffner


Semi-arid regions in East Africa harbour unique biological and cultural diversity, but they have also historically been prone to extreme drought events and food insecurity (United Nations Environment Management Group 2011). These ecosystems are now undergoing a period of rapid land-use change. The concern is that these changes may exacerbate food insecurity and lead to the erosion of rural livelihoods as well as the loss of biodiversity, and the ability of the ecosystems to deliver services critical to human well-being (FAO 2011; Avery 2012). Net Primary Production (NPP), represents the primary food energy source for the ecosystems in East Africa, as elsewhere. Human appropriation of net primary productivity (HANPP) is the aggregate impact of land use on NPP / biomass available each year in ecosystems. Through the use of dense time series of remotely-sensed data, and field-based measurements this project will quantify and map changes in land cover, NPP and HANPP, and examine the trade-offs between human appropriation of NPP, biodiversity, and ecosystem multi-functionality (Lefcheck et al. 2015; Allan et al. 2014). This project will also use the novel technique of bioacoustic monitoring, and assess the extent to which changes in biodiversity and community structure are detectable using this approach, and thus the potential of combining soundscape ecology techniques with remote sensing to carry out biodiversity assessments. Baringo County in Kenya, will be the case study area for this research project.

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