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Cycle 5 (2015 Deadline)

Remote sensing and GIS mapping for land use changes in Laikipia ecosystem, Kenya: a tool to explore patterns of biodiversity and emergence of vector-borne zoonoses and enhance environmental management and community health

PI: Maamun Jeneby (, Institute of Primate Research-National Museums of Kenya
U.S. Partner: Peter Leimbruger, Smithsonian Institution
Project Dates: November 2016-November 2019

Project Overview:

Laikipia County in central Kenya supports one of the highest levels of mammalian diversity in East Africa. The semi-arid environment is changing rapidly due to land use changes, and climatic changes are projected to alter ecosystem resilience. These anthropogenic changes can alter the dynamics of zoonotic infectious diseases in wooded and bushland fringes of semi-arid ecosystems. Vector-borne diseases carried by vectors such as mosquitoes, ticks, and sand flies are known for their rapid response to environmental modifications and climate change. In this project, the team will focus on the interrelationships between climate change, land use patterns and their impacts on large mammal distribution, and disease vector diversity. They will also study how these in turn influence human adaptation and ecosystem resilience to ecological change. Specifically, they will use the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR)-derived Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) to examine the relationship between inter-annual NDVI parameters and species richness of large mammals and ticks and sand flies as disease vectors. They will also examine primary productivity of current land use systems within current climate patterns and its relationship to mammals and vegetation cover. Lastly, they will examine variation in host feeding preferences of zoophilic mosquitoes, sand flies, and ticks from different land use systems and climatic zones of Laikipia.

The use of remote sensed data to represent environmental factors influencing species richness in different ecosystems in Laikipia will provide valuable knowledge on the spatial variability of species richness and ecological resilience of different land use systems. Together with disease vector sampling and molecular analysis of vector feeding preferences, this project will also address vector-borne disease dynamics in Laikipia.

Summary of Recent Activities

In this second quarter ending June 2018, the PI and her team conducted a four-day Open Data Kit (ODK) workshop training in Nanyuki with the aim of equipping nine small mammal survey research enumerators with skills to reliably collect data using mobile devices. The benefits of using the ODK approach lie mainly in the convenience, accuracy, and security of managing data on small mammals. Enumerators were specifically trained on how to use ODK software loaded in mobile phones to collect, edit, and send data to an institutional server. The training was offered by ODK experts from ILRI led by James Audho. A total of nine Research Scientists and Assistants from the PEER project were trained during the workshop and the group consisted of six males and three females. Besides the utility of the ODK software, the training focused on the application of small mammal diversity sampling and the climate change questionnaire, which will be implemented in October 2018.

One of the project team members, Harry Wells, began his geospatial analysis training by creating a land cover map of Laikipia County by using open access data in Google Earth Engine (GEE) using supervised classification. Accuracy assessments so far appear to show that these land cover classifications are highly accurate except for a few areas that need ground-truthing data to verify the accuracy of land cover map. Harry has also been trained on analyzing the impact of the different rangeland management type on vegetation trends within the different classified vegetation cover types and found significant differences in percent NDVI change between management types as predicted. Working with his Smithsonian trainers, Harry has begun the exploratory data analysis of outputs from GEE and continues to develop more geospatial analysis skills to be disseminated to the members of the PEER project team and other attendees of the workshop scheduled for September 2018. This geospatial analysis workshop training will partially be funded by the supplementary grant that their PEER project was awarded.

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