Herbaceous Forage Variability in an Arid Pastoral Region of Kenya: Importance of Topographic and Rainfall Gradients

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Journal of Arid Environments

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Temporal and spatial variabilities in rainfall, herbaceous production and biomass were studied over a 4-year period in a topographically diverse, arid pastoral region of northwest Kenya. A significant relation between rainfall and primary production was found, and this was applied in a manner that considered topographic variation and its influence on rainfall variation over the region. Primary production responses to rainfall occurred as pulses that were rapidly attenuated as the dry seasons progressed. The combination of spatial and temporal variability of herbaceous forage is significant for nomadic pastoralists who move along rainfall gradients between wet and dry seasons. Dry areas at low elevations produce forage that is available for only a short period of time, which explains pastoral use of drier areas early in the wet season. Quantitative analyses of relationships between topography, rainfall and forage are needed to determine appropriate pastoral densities in topographically diverse arid regions.

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