Presentation - "Limits to Ideal Free Distributions in Pastoralist Systems" by Dr. Sarah Robinson
Date: Wednesday, March 11, 2020, 13-15h
Location: Zeughaus, first floor, room Ze-S4
The research looks at the spatial distribution of livestock in two arid regions of Central Asia under different economic conditions and property rights regimes. Economic theory suggests that exclusive property rights allow land users to capture maximum rents through exclusion of others, and to avoid the tragedy of the commons. In contrast, ecological theory predicts a spatial matching of consumers and resources called an ideal free distribution which allows consumers to maximise their food intake in a shifting environment. We hypothesise that an ideal free distribution of domestic livestock would be the outcome of a pastoralist system in which property rights are weak or absent and economic costs to movement low. We mapped livestock distributions at case study areas in Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, testing metrics related to resource matching using water supply and vegetation datasets. We found that in Turkmenistan livestock owners respond to water and vegetation availability, enabled by large herd sizes, cheap fuel, collective herding institutions and weak cadastral boundaries. In Kazakhstan, herd fragmentation and high costs of site occupation have caused migratory systems to break down, reducing the role of resource density in herder decision making and resulting in a mismatch between grazing pressure and available resources.
Sarah Robinson has worked on rural livelihoods and pastoralist systems in Central Asia since 1997, focussing on the interaction of biological, economic, and political factors on pastoralists and wildlife. She has recently worked on the project ‘Revitalising animal husbandry in Central Asia: A five-country analysis’ at Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Transition Economies (IAMO) and is a visiting researcher at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Conservation Science at Oxford University.