Study will examine impact of climate change

News
May 7, 2010
by WLJ

Colorado State University (CSU) has received a $15 million grant to look at the impact of climate change on livestock around the globe, particularly in developing countries.

CSU will manage the grant and, over the next five years, develop partnerships for multiple research projects in areas such as sub- Saharan Africa and central Asia. The grant was awarded to CSU’s Animal Population Health Institute and the university’s Institute for Livestock and the Environment by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The grant will fund CSU oversight of the project and CSU research in developing countries. The research will focus on ways to help developing countries manage livestock under changing climate conditions. In these developing countries, a large proportion of the population depends upon livestock for a significant part of their income. Ultimately, the goal is not just to study these processes but to help livestock producers to adapt to climate change and improve their livelihoods.

“The risks to livestock and developing livestock industries in these countries as a result of climate change encompass a broad range of issues and challenges—more than may meet the eye to the general observer,” said Mo Salman, the principal investigator for this grant and a professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at CSU. “As just one example, we know that climate change may drive changes in precipitation and temperature in many regions which are already arid or semi-arid. That leads to reduced crop yields and pasture productivity for livestock, which makes it difficult for farmers and herders to support their livelihood. Because they can no longer survive off the land, those farmers and herders may migrate to urban areas. This changes the social fabric of communities, alters a people’s cultural identity, and potentially increases political instability.”

While it’s clear that climate change will impact different regions of the globe, this grant helps scientists from multiple disciplines start to identify the scope, location and nature of those impacts so that planning for potential adaptations can begin. This grant will focus on learning more about the risks and opportunities of climate change on livelihoods in the areas studied, the social and environmental impacts, how infrastructure can be strengthened to better support food safety and animal health, and how livestock herders can change how they manage their businesses to optimize production while protecting the environment and health of animals.

The researchers point out that like some regions of Africa, Colorado also is semiarid, and raising livestock is an important industry economically and culturally.

The information gained from this grant could eventually help Coloradoans adjust to similar changes.

The program will be led by a CSU management team of Salman, the principal investigator, Shana Gillette, coprincipal investigator, Jessica Davis, program director, and Dana Hoag, associate director. In addition to the management team from the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and the College of Agricultural Sciences, other CSU collaborators will include the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory and the Warner College of Natural Resources. Expertise will encompass research in communication, animal health, animal science, agricultural economics and natural resources. The grant is from the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Collaborative Research Support Programs. — WLJ

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