INVESTIGADORES
JOBBAGY GAMPEL Esteban Gabriel
artículos
Título:
How do forage availability and climate control sheep reproductive performance?. An analysis based on artificial neural networks and remotely sensed data
Autor/es:
TEXEIRA M; PARUELO JM; JOBBAGY EG
Revista:
ECOLOGICAL MODELLING
Editorial:
Elsevier
Referencias:
Lugar: Netherlands; Año: 2008 vol. 217 p. 197 - 197
ISSN:
0304-3800
Resumen:
Sheep production is the main agricultural activity in Patagonia. Since the middle of the 20th century, sheep numbers have declined steadly. We used historical records of stock numbers in four ranches to analyze the importance of regional factors so as to explain the decline of the Patagonian sheep flocks. We found that the stocks of all the four ranches declined with a similar trend but fluctuated independently, thus reflecting a complex interaction between regional and local factors. Aboveground net primary production (ANPP) and vegetation physiognomy explained most of the differences in the flocks declining rates. We estimated demographic parameters for two ranches differing in their average annual growth rates. From these demographic parameters, we constructed deterministic and stochastic matrix models to establish the relative contribution of demographic processes to the observed decline. Matrix models projected a faster decline than that observed in the ranch used to calibrate the model. This suggests that the recorded demographic parameters could drive most stocks to extinction in less than 100 years. We concluded that the observed dynamics would be generated by demographic processes, but extinction is delayed or avoided by a continuous intake of animals. Ewe survival was the most important parameter in controlling the growth rate of the flocks. The environmental stochastic model showed that the growth of the stocks was highly sensitive to increases in the frequency of good years (those that produce a positive growth) and in the transition from normal years to bad years. All these evidences point out the existence of biological constraints to sheep production in Patagonia: ANPP and vegetation structure would control flock population dynamics throughout its effects on key demographic parameters, ewe survival and marking rate (a recruitment measure). Our model results suggest that the decline in sheep numbers, and hence the sustainability of the activity, is driven, to a large extent, by the demographic characteristics of the flocks
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