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Seasonal dynamics of below-ground carbon as influenced by vegetation type, water availability and grazing -
BMZ 2011-2014

The Hohenheim PhD student will investigate the relation between grazing intensity, density of above ground perennial biomass and water availability on the above and below ground carbon sequestration potential at sites in the Ethiopian rangelands differing in annual precipitation and temperature. At each site grazing gradients will be defined ranging from zero-grazing (exclosures) to intensive grazing with stocking rates close to/exceeding carrying capacity. Soil water availability will be measured as a function of soil moisture content and rainfall amount and intensity along this gradient using permanently installed Time domain reflectance sensor (TDR) access tubes and rain gauges. Above ground biomass will be estimated through destructive sampling while species composition as influenced by climate and grazing intensity will be determined in collaboration with a local botanist. Status and dynamics of soil organic carbon will be monitored over the course of two years along the established gradients using soil samples from three different depths taken at specific intervals along the proposed gradients. Livestock based management options for carbon sequestration will be proposed based on the potential biomass production, both below and above ground, as related to climatic and livestock production constraints including potential changes in species composition. The research will be conducted within the framework of a three year PhD study at the University of Hohenheim.


Jan Pfister



"Effects of  leaf area dynamics on the micro climate in semi-arid grasslands"
Master of Science Thesis, Bosco Kidake [Kenya]

"Diurnal responses in carbon assimilation of grassland species to micro-climate".
Master of Science Thesis, Christina Seckinger [Germany]

"Effects of vegetation type on carbon sequestration in semi-arid Ethiopian Savannahs"
Master of Science Thesis, Beatrice Breuer [Germany]

"Relationship between vegetation type, soil type, soil moisture, and carbon stocks in semi-arid Ethiopian Savannahs"
Master of Science Thesis, Sarah Glatzle [Germany]

"Effects of management practices on carbon sequestration in semi-arid Ethiopian Savannahs"
Master of Science Thesis, Lena Rathjen [Germany]



 Link to GrassNet

 Link to project leader - ILRI - Nairobi



Kisambo, B. K., Pfister, J., Schaffert, A., Asch, F. 2016
Leaf area dynamics and aboveground biomass of specific vegetation types of a semi-arid grassland in southern Ethiopia. Tropical and Subtropical Agroecosystems 19, 253-262.



Rathjen, L., Pfister J., Asch. F, 2012. 
"Effects of management practices on carbon allocation in the semi-arid Savannahs of the Borana Region, Ethiopia"
Resilience of Agricultural Systems against Crises - Tropentag 2012, September 19-21, 2012 Göttingen, Germany