Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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    Rural livelihoods and agricultural commercialization in colonial Uganda: conjunctures of external influences and local realities
    Haas, Michiel A. de - \ 2017
    Wageningen University. Promotor(en): E.H.P. Frankema, co-promotor(en): N.B.J. Koning. - Wageningen : Wageningen University - ISBN 9789463436281 - 250
    cum laude - livelihoods - livelihood strategies - communities - rural areas - farmers - history - colonies - colonialism - income - gender - social inequalities - food crops - cash crops - uganda - east africa - middelen van bestaan - strategieën voor levensonderhoud - gemeenschappen - platteland - boeren - geschiedenis - kolonies - kolonialisme - inkomen - geslacht (gender) - sociale ongelijkheden - voedselgewassen - marktgewassen - uganda - oost-afrika

    The economic history of Sub-Saharan Africa is characterized by geographically and temporally dispersed booms and busts. The export-led ‘cash-crop revolution’ in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa during the colonial era is a key example of an economic boom. This thesis examines how external influences and local realities shaped the nature, extent and impact of the ‘cash-crop revolution’ in colonial Uganda, a landlocked country in central east Africa, where cotton and coffee production for global markets took off following completion of a railway to the coast. The thesis consists of five targeted ‘interventions’ into contemporary debates of comparative African development. Each of these five interventions is grounded in the understanding that the ability of rural Africans to respond to and benefit from trade integration during the colonial era was mediated by colonial policies, resource endowments and local institutions.

    The first chapter reconstructs welfare development of Ugandan cash-crop farmers. Recent scholarship on historical welfare development in Sub-Saharan Africa has uncovered long-term trends in standards of living. How the majority of rural dwellers fared, however, remains largely elusive. This chapter presents a new approach to reconstructing rural living standards in a historical context, building upon the well-established real wage literature, but moving beyond it to capture rural realities, employing sub-national rural survey, census, and price data. The approach is applied to colonial and early post-colonial Uganda (1915–70), and yields a number of findings. While an expanding smallholder-based cash-crop sector established itself as the backbone of Uganda’s colonial economy, farm characteristics remained largely stagnant after the initial adoption of cash crops. Smallholders maintained living standards well above subsistence level, and while the profitability of cash crops was low, their cultivation provided a reliable source of cash income. At the same time, there were pronounced limits to rural welfare expansion. Around the time of decolonization, unskilled wages rose rapidly while farm incomes lagged behind. As a result, an urban–rural income reversal took place. The study also reveals considerable differences within Uganda, which were mediated to an important extent by differential resource endowments. Smallholders in Uganda’s banana regions required fewer labour inputs to maintain a farm income than their grain-farming counterparts, creating opportunities for additional income generation and livelihood diversification.

    The second chapter zooms in on labour migration which connected Belgian-controlled Ruanda-Urundi to British-controlled Buganda, the central province of Uganda on the shores of Lake Victoria. The emergence of new labour mobility patterns was a key aspect of economic change in colonial Africa. Under conditions of land abundance and labour scarcity, the supply of wage labour required either the ‘pull’ forces of attractive working conditions and high wages, or the ‘push’ forces of taxation and other deliberate colonial interventions. Building upon primary sources, I show that this case diverges from the ‘conventional’ narrative of labour scarcity in colonial Africa. I argue that Ruanda-Urundi should be regarded as labour abundant and that migrants were not primarily ‘pushed’ by colonial labour policies, but rather by poverty and limited access to agricultural resources. This explains why they were willing to work for low wages in Buganda. I show that African rural employers were the primary beneficiaries of migrant labour, while colonial governments on both sides of the border were unable to control the course of the flow. As in the first chapter, this chapter highlights that the effects of trade integration on African rural development were uneven, and mediated by differences in resource endowments, local institutions and colonial policies.

    The third chapter zooms out of the rural economy, evaluating the broader opportunity structures faced by African men and women in Uganda, and discussing the interaction of local institutions and colonial policies as drivers of uneven educational and occupational opportunities. The chapter engages with a recent article by Meier zu Selhausen and Weisdorf (2016) to show how selection biases in, and Eurocentric interpretations of, parish registers have provoked an overly optimistic account of European influences on the educational and occupational opportunities of African men and women. We confront their dataset, drawn from the marriage registers of the Anglican Cathedral in Kampala, with Uganda’s 1991 census, and show that trends in literacy and numeracy of men and women born in Kampala lagged half a century behind those who wedded in Namirembe Cathedral. We run a regression analysis showing that access to schooling during the colonial era was unequal along lines of gender and ethnicity. We foreground the role of Africans in the spread of education, argue that European influences were not just diffusive but also divisive, and that gender inequality was reconfigured rather than eliminated under colonial rule. This chapter also makes a methodological contribution. The renaissance of African economic history in the past decade has opened up new research avenues to study the long-term social and economic development of Africa. We show that a sensitive treatment of African realities in the evaluation of European colonial legacies, and a critical stance towards the use of new sources and approaches, is crucial.

    The fourth chapter singles out the role of resource endowments in explaining Uganda’s ‘cotton revolution’ in a comparative African perspective. Why did some African smallholders adopt cash crops on a considerable scale, while most others were hesitant to do so? The chapter sets out to explore the importance of factor endowments in shaping the degrees to which cash crops were adopted in colonial tropical Africa. We conduct an in-depth case study of the ‘cotton revolution’ in colonial Uganda to put the factor endowments perspective to the test. Our empirical findings, based on an annual panel data analysis at the district-level from 1925 until 1960, underscore the importance of Uganda’s equatorial bimodal rainfall distribution as an enabling factor for its ‘cotton revolution’. Evidence is provided at a unique spatial micro-level, capitalizing on detailed household surveys from the same period. We demonstrate that previous explanations associating the variegated responses of African farmers to cash crops with, either the role of colonial coercion, or the distinction between ‘forest/banana’ and ‘savannah/grain’ zones, cannot explain the widespread adoption of cotton in Uganda. We argue, instead, that the key to the cotton revolution were Uganda’s two rainy seasons, which enabled farmers to grow cotton while simultaneously pursuing food security. Our study highlights the importance of food security and labour seasonality as important determinants of uneven agricultural commercialization in colonial tropical Africa.

    The fifth and final chapter further investigates the experience of African smallholders with cotton cultivation, providing a comparative explanatory analysis of variegated cotton outcomes, focusing in particular on the role of colonial and post-colonial policies. The chapter challenges the widely accepted view that (i) African colonial cotton projects consistently failed, that (ii) this failure should be attributed to conditions particular to Africa, which made export cotton inherently unviable and unprofitable to farmers, and that (iii) the repression and resistance often associated with cotton, all resulted from the stubborn and overbearing insistence of colonial governments on the crop per se. I argue along three lines. Firstly, to show that cotton outcomes were diverse, I compare cases of cotton production in Sub-Saharan Africa across time and space. Secondly, to refute the idea that cotton was a priori unattractive, I argue that the crop had substantial potential to connect farmers to markets and contribute to poverty alleviation, particularly in vulnerable, marginal and landlocked areas. Thirdly, to illustrate how an interaction between local conditions and government policies created conducive conditions for cotton adoption, I zoom in on the few yet significant ‘cotton success stories’ in twentieth century Africa. Smallholders in colonial Uganda adopted cotton because of favourable ecological and marketing conditions, and policies had an auxiliary positive effect. Smallholders in post-colonial Francophone West Africa faced much more challenging local conditions, but benefitted from effective external intervention and coordinated policy. On a more general level, this chapter demonstrates that, from a perspective of rural development, colonial policies should not only be seen as overbearing and interventionist, but also as inadequate, failing to aid rural Africans to benefit from new opportunities created by trade integration.

    Answering the "Call of the Mountain" : co-creating sustainability through networks of change in Colombia
    Chaves Villegas, Martha - \ 2016
    Wageningen University. Promotor(en): Arjen Wals, co-promotor(en): Gerard Verschoor. - Wageningen : Wageningen University - ISBN 9789462577251 - 152
    sustainable development - sustainability - social networks - networks - communities - rural communities - change - social change - learning - colombia - south america - duurzame ontwikkeling - duurzaamheid (sustainability) - sociale netwerken - netwerken - gemeenschappen - plattelandsgemeenschappen - verandering - sociale verandering - leren - colombia - zuid-amerika

    In response to the age of the ‘anthropocene,’ as some authors are calling this epoch in which one single species is disrupting major natural systems (Steffen et al 2011), there are calls for more radical, learning-based sustainability that generates deep transformations in individuals and communities so as to transition towards a more reflexive and process-oriented society (Wals 2009, Sterling 2009). The principal contention of this thesis is that new social movements (NSM) of the network society (Castells 2012, Buechler 2016), based on integrated visions of sustainability, can provide platforms for bringing about transformative learning. This thesis is based on empirical research (2012-2016) into a fraction of such NSM named the Council of Sustainable Settlements of Latin America (C.A.S.A.). Comprising a diversity of members from Indigenous pueblos, afro-colombian communities, neo-rural settlements (ecovillages), Hare Krishna communities, campesino farmers, NGOs and urban peoples and initiatives, the C.A.S.A. network organizes intercultural exchanges where transformative learning can be traced. Through new forms of collective action centered on a plurality of ideas and practices, and with a strong focus on reflection and personal development, in such encounters through ‘ontological politics’, ‘optimal dissonance’ and ‘deep reflexivity and flexibility’ members are articulating new paradigms of alternative development and creating spaces for transformation. Yet, such learning processes are incredibly complex, and the value-action gap remains substantial in many cases. What this thesis has shown, however, is that by putting into practice principles of buen vivir and the pluriverse such as reconnecting to ancestral wisdom, acknowledging the other, questioning values of competition and consumerism, and forming new relations to place and territory, one begins to question one's own set of norms, and those of society. Ultimately, the C.A.S.A. network’s struggles, negotiations and learning processes remind us that global sustainability entails more than 'menus' of good practices but a plurality of solutions which include humans and non-humans, different ontologies, and even a multiplicity of worlds, in what is a tough but rewarding aula.

    'Actief Burgerschap' : een verkenning naar burgerinitiatieven in de Limburgse samenleving
    Kruit, J. ; Breman, B.C. - \ 2016
    Wageningen UR, Wetenschapswinkel (Rapport / Wetenschapswinkel Wageningen UR 328) - 23
    bewonersparticipatie - buurtactie - maatschappelijke betrokkenheid - gemeenschappen - platteland - limburg - nederland - community participation - community action - community involvement - communities - rural areas - limburg - netherlands
    De Vereniging Kleine Kernen Limburg (VKKL) is als actieve speler in Limburg betrokken bij het borgen van de leefbaarheid in kleine kernen. Ze brengt als kennismakelaar partijen bij elkaar, ze behartigt belangen richting provincie, ze zorgt voor expertiseontwikkeling bij haar leden en ze voedt haar leden met nieuwe kennis en inzichten, onder andere via de organisatie van het plattelandsparlement in Limburg en de Limburglabs. De Limburgse samenleving verandert. De VKKL ziet een ontwikkeling dat Limburgers meer en meer zelf een actieve rol (moeten) spelen in het borgen van de leefbaarheid. Steeds meer nieuwe initiatieven, netwerken en samenwerkingsverbanden zonder vastomlijnde organisatievorm komen op. De VKKL probeert grip te krijgen op de aard- en de dynamiek van deze (verschillende typen) ‘burgerkracht’ in Limburg én aan te sluiten op de ondersteuningsbehoefte die bestaat vanuit deze initiatieven. Het onderzoek, uitgevoerd door twee masterstudenten en een ACT1 groep vanuit Wageningen UR heeft duidelijk gemaakt dat: er enorm veel verschillende soorten burgerinitiatieven in Limburg zijn te vinden, dat deze initiatieven veelal in grotere netwerken functioneren, dat het daarbij ook gaat over de verbinding tussen overheid én burgerinitiatief en dat initiatieven op verschillende manieren kunnen ontstaan, waarbij ook andere netwerkpartijen een prominente rol kunnen hebben. Ook werd duidelijk dat de VKKL nog niet altijd vanzelfsprekend in beeld is bij de verschillende bottom-up initiatieven en de samenwerkende overheden. In een creatieve sessie met de VKKL zijn ideeën opgehaald en uitgewerkt die worden meegenomen in het beleidsplan 2017-2021. Deze ideeën gaan over het werken aan een organisatie die onderscheidend en herkenbaar is. Van belang daarbij is dat de organisatie lokaal zichtbaar is en tegelijkertijd grensoverschrijdend leren en samenwerken stimuleert. Ook essentieel is dat de groep ondersteuners wordt verbreed en dat die ook nog meer gebruikt maakt van (sociale) media om kennis en informatie beter te ontsluiten.
    Certifications, child labour and livelihood strategies: an analysis of cocoa production in Ghana
    Owusu-Amankwah, R. - \ 2015
    Wageningen University. Promotor(en): Han Wiskerke; Guido Ruivenkamp, co-promotor(en): Joost Jongerden. - Wageningen : Wageningen University - ISBN 9789462574915 - 348
    cacao - productie - landbouw bedrijven in het klein - gemeenschappen - kinderarbeid - strategieën voor levensonderhoud - certificering - agrarische productiesystemen - ghana - cocoa - production - peasant farming - communities - child labour - livelihood strategies - certification - agricultural production systems - ghana


    There have been various innovative initiatives by global and local actors in response to pressure on cocoa value-chain actors to free cocoa production from child labour (CL) and especially the worst forms of child labour (WFCL) and also to improve the livelihoods of farm families. Analyses of the implementation, implications and the appropriateness of these initiatives in driving change in the cocoa supply chain and improving the labour and income conditions in cocoa farms are limited, however. This study examines initiatives being led by the key actors in the value chain – the governmental initiative of a community-based child labour monitoring (CCLM) system (CCLMS), that led by business actors of third party voluntary cocoa certification (TPVCC), and farmers’ own way of diversifying income – in order to understand current developments in the cocoa value-chain and analyse the dynamics between the local and global actors and the effect of these dynamics for the reorganisation of the cocoa production system in Ghana.

    This thesis employs an interdisciplinary perspective and combines innovation theory with livelihood, social perspectives and other social science tools to empirically investigate the initiatives as they operate at micro-, meso- and macro-levels so as to ascertain their implications for farmers’ livelihoods and children’s social situations. It also reflects scholarly interest in understanding how global-level development interacts with and affects local-level development, and how globalisation shapes and mediates local influences within the cocoa production system.

    Firstly, the CCLMS study (Chapter 3) reveals three kinds of benefits to children: an expanded social network, a reduction in their participation in hazardous work and an improvement in school attendance. The findings show that absenteeism on the part of the pupils in a community with a CCLM intervention is approximately half that of two communities without intervention. In addition, it is observed that although children are involved in hazardous and non-hazardous activities in all the three communities involved in the study, the extent of their involvement in hazardous activities is higher in the communities without intervention.

    Secondly, third party certification (TPC) formulated by the business actors is a key innovation in the cocoa production system of Ghana. The study presented in Chapter 4 shows the potential of TPVCC to mobilise financial, human and social capitals to address gaps and

    dysfunctions and create a win-win situation for all the actors of the value chain. However, sector-wide standards that address sector specific needs taking into consideration the views of chain actors, especially farmers and their socio-cultural context will enhance compliance. This is because global or international standards cannot be imposed but are analysed, contested and adapted by farmers to suit on-the-ground practices. The study also shows the potential of TPVCC to address CL and livelihood issues, but these will yield better results if it is implemented in enhanced socio-economic conditions. Regardless of these positives, the net benefit of certification is unclear due to the difficulty in conducting proper cost-benefit analyses in the absence of proper documentation of farmer-level costs and other factors.

    Thirdly, the findings show that about 70% of farmers are diversifying into other (non-cocoa) farm and non-farm activities using largely indigenous resources, but on a small scale and at subsistence level. This condition means that the goal of farmers to supplement cocoa income and reduce risk is not achieved throughsuch a level of diversification. There is some indication of increasing importance of income and resources from non-farm activities, but income from cocoa continues to determine household income as well as the demand for non- farm goods and investment in the non-farm sector. This study also finds that children are involved in both farm and non-farm activities, which can be classified as hazardous and non- hazardous. Farmers, especially caretakers, producing at subsistence level are likely to use their children to supplement labour needs. Some policy recommendations are made in the areas of economic incentives and multi-stakeholder collaboration to stimulate the sector towards sustainability.

    Seeds, food networks and politics: different ontologies in relation to food sovereignty in Ecuador
    Martinez Flores, L.A. - \ 2015
    Wageningen University. Promotor(en): Guido Ruivenkamp; Han Wiskerke, co-promotor(en): Joost Jongerden. - Wageningen : Wageningen University - ISBN 9789462574908 - 194
    voedselsoevereiniteit - landbouw bedrijven in het klein - gemeenschappen - voedsel - netwerken - ontologieën - zaden - politiek - lupinus - voedselketens - landbouwbeleid - overheidsbeleid - etnografie - andes - ecuador - food sovereignty - peasant farming - communities - food - networks - ontologies - seeds - politics - lupinus - food chains - agricultural policy - government policy - ethnography - andes - ecuador


    In this thesis I explore the ontological proposal of food sovereignty and I discuss the possibilities offered by studies like this one to the attempts of the social sciences to explain – in a symmetrical fashion - that develop between humans and other entities at the time of production, processing and consumption of food. In this effort I combine ethnography and history.

    I argue that in countries like Ecuador, food networks such as that of the lupine, Lupino mutabilis Sweet, since they do not establish ontological differences between nature and culture, promote the implementation of food sovereignty in practice, as long as agricultural and science and technology (S&T) policies enable the autonomous development of such networks. More specifically, food networks in the Andean highlands have functioned in a rhizomatic way, without establishing hierarchies between entities of different ontology: foods as goods or foods as gifts, society and nature, and have spread without discontinuities between town and country. This analysis enables me to show that these networks can promote food sovereignty, because in them is condensed an ontology distinct from that of modernity with regard to the cultivation, processing and consumption of food. Considering these findings I analyse the rationality of S&T policies and the current policies of the Ecuadorian State. I argue that such policies go against the logic of food networks. Food sovereignty is an achievable goal if Ecuadorian government policies contribute to the strengthening of food networks, creating new links so that they can sidestep the agribusiness model.

    The organisation of this thesis is unusual, as the object of study is a food network. This forced me to research and structure this dissertation in a particular way. So, I start with the ethnographic explanation of a food network. Here I analyse its operation, relationships and the paths it establishes. From this analysis it is possible to understand why S&T policies, specifically those related to plant breeding, created new social relations that affected the food networks of the highlands. I show here how the modern rationality on which agricultural policies are based inhibits the growth of food networks and works against food sovereignty. Then, from the analysis of the formation of the food sovereignty network, I examine the introduction of the food sovereignty proposal into the Ecuadorian Constitution and the changes made to the original proposal. I show how the translation of the Via Campesina proposal present in the constitution and the subsequent law is possible due to the intervention of actors linked with the big businesses of the food trade. All this enables me, finally, to discuss my contribution: the analysis of the ontological promise present in the food sovereignty proposal.

    Offshore wind park monitoring programmes, lessons learned and recommendations for the future
    Lindeboom, H.J. ; Degraer, S. ; Dannheim, J. ; Gill, A.B. ; Wilhelmsson, D. - \ 2015
    Hydrobiologia 756 (2015)1. - ISSN 0018-8158 - p. 169 - 180.
    renewable energy development - north-sea - communities - impacts - benthos - farms - power - biodiversity - assemblages - management
    Over a decade of monitoring offshore wind park environmental impact triggered a reflection on the overall objectives and how to best continue with the monitoring programmes. Essentially, basic monitoring has to be rationalised at the level of the likelihood of impact detection, the meaningfulness of impact size and representativeness of the findings. Targeted monitoring is crucial and should continue to be applied to disentangle processes behind observed impacts, for instance the overarching artificial reef effect caused by wind parks. The major challenge, however, remains to achieve a reliable assessment of the cumulative impacts. A continuous international consultation and collaboration with marine scientists, managers, government officials and industry will be needed to ensure an optimisation of the future monitoring programmes.
    Seperating the role of biotic interactions and climate in determining adaptive response of plants to climate change
    Tomiolo, S. ; Putten, W.H. van der; Tielbörger, K. - \ 2015
    Ecology 96 (2015)5. - ISSN 0012-9658 - p. 1298 - 1308.
    local adaptation - environmental gradients - positive interactions - species interactions - soil feedback - ecological responses - aridity gradient - global change - evolutionary - communities
    Altered rainfall regimes will greatly affect the response of plant species to climate change. However, little is known about how direct effects of changing precipitation on plant performance may depend on other abiotic factors and biotic interactions. We used reciprocal transplants between climatically very different sites with simultaneous manipulation of soil, plant population origin, and neighbor conditions to evaluate local adaptation and possible adaptive response of four Eastern Mediterranean annual plant species to climate change. The effect of site on plant performance was negligible, but soil origin had a strong effect on fecundity, most likely due to differential water retaining ability. Competition by neighbors strongly reduced fitness. We separated the effects of the abiotic and biotic soil properties on plant performance by repeating the field experiment in a greenhouse under homogenous environmental conditions and including a soil biota manipulation treatment. As in the field, plant performance differed among soil origins and neighbor treatments. Moreover, we found plant species-specific responses to soil biota that may be best explained by the differential sensitivity to negative and positive soil biota effects. Overall, under the conditions of our experiment with two contrasting sites, biotic interactions had a strong effect on plant fitness that interacted with and eventually overrode climate. Because climate and biotic interactions covary, reciprocal transplants and climate gradient studies should consider soil biotic interactions and abiotic conditions when evaluating climate change effects on plant performance.
    Adaptation of faecal microbiota in sows after diet changes and consequences for in vitro fermentation capacity
    Sappok, M.A. ; Perez Gutierrez, O.N. ; Smidt, H. ; Pellikaan, W.F. ; Verstegen, M.W.A. ; Bosch, G. ; Hendriks, W.H. - \ 2015
    Animal 9 (2015)9. - ISSN 1751-7311 - p. 1453 - 1464.
    gas-production technique - large-intestine - growing pigs - adult-pigs - fiber - substrate - kinetics - digesta - communities - performance
    In vitro gas production studies are routinely used to assess the metabolic capacity of intestinal microbiota to ferment dietary fibre sources. The faecal inocula used during the in vitro gas production procedure are most often obtained from animals adapted to a certain diet. The present study was designed to assess whether 19 days of adaptation to a diet are sufficient for faecal inocula of pigs to reach a stable microbial composition and activity as determined by in vitro gas production. Eighteen multiparous sows were allotted to one of two treatments for three weeks: a diet high in fibre (H) or a diet low in fibre (L). After this 3-week period, the H group was transferred to the low fibre diet (HL-treatment) while the L group was transferred to the diet high in fibre (LH-treatment). Faecal samples were collected from each sow at 1, 4, 7, 10, 13, 16 and 19 days after the diet change and prepared as inoculum used for incubation with three contrasting fermentable substrates: oligofructose, soya pectin and cellulose. In addition, inocula were characterised using a phylogenetic microarray targeting the pig gastrointestinal tract microbiota. Time after diet change had an effect (P
    Effects of immune supplementation and immune challenge on bacterial assemblages in the avian cloaca
    Matson, K.D. ; Versteegh, M.A. ; Velde, M. van der; Tieleman, B.I. - \ 2015
    Journal of Ornithology 156 (2015)3. - ISSN 2193-7192 - p. 805 - 810.
    communities - diversity - evenness
    Relationships between avian physiology and bacterial assemblages in the cloaca are poorly understood. We used molecular techniques to analyze cloacal swabs from pigeons that were subjected to two immunological manipulations: lysozyme supplementation and endotoxin challenge. From the swabs, we derived ecological indices of evenness, richness, and diversity of bacterial assemblages. Challenge led to changes in evenness that depended on supplementation. When analyzing these changes, we neutralized the effects of a possible statistical artifact by including the starting values as a covariate. Repeatability calculations suggested that swabbing reliably captured the evenness but not the richness or diversity of bacterial assemblages in the cloaca.
    The contribution of phenotypic plasticity to complementary light capture in plant mixtures
    Zhu, J. ; Werf, W. van der; Anten, N.P.R. ; Vos, J. ; Evers, J.B. - \ 2015
    New Phytologist 207 (2015)4. - ISSN 0028-646X - p. 1213 - 1222.
    functional diversity - current knowledge - biodiversity - productivity - photosynthesis - competition - model - communities - variability - environment
    Interspecific differences in functional traits are a key factor for explaining the positive diversity– productivity relationship in plant communities. However, the role of intraspecific variation attributable to phenotypic plasticity in diversity–productivity relationships has largely been overlooked. By taking a wheat (Triticum aestivum)–maize (Zea mays) intercrop as an elementary example of mixed vegetation, we show that plasticity in plant traits is an important factor contributing to complementary light capture in species mixtures. We conceptually separated net biodiversity effect into the effect attributable to interspecific trait differences and species distribution (community structure effect), and the effect attributable to phenotypic plasticity. Using a novel plant architectural modelling approach, whole vegetation light capture was simulated for scenarios with and without plasticity based on empirical plant trait data. Light capture was 23% higher in the intercrop with plasticity than the expected value from monocultures, of which 36% was attributable to community structure and 64% was attributable to plasticity. For wheat, plasticity in tillering was the main reason for increased light capture, whereas for intercropped maize, plasticity induced a major reduction in light capture. The results illustrate the potential of plasticity for enhancing resource acquisition in mixed stands, and indicate the importance of plasticity in the performance of species-diverse plant communities.
    A social analysis of contested fishing practices in Lake Victoria
    Medard, M. - \ 2015
    Wageningen University. Promotor(en): Han van Dijk, co-promotor(en): Paul Hebinck; R. Mwaipopo. - Wageningen : s.n. - ISBN 9789462572478 - 278
    visserij - gemeenschappen - productiviteit - hulpbronnen - ontwikkeling - sociologie - organisatie - visserijbeheer - ondernemerschap - meren - tanzania - fisheries - communities - productivity - resources - development - sociology - organization - fishery management - entrepreneurship - lakes - tanzania

    Thesis abstract

    The thesis explored how the global market for Nile Perch fish has reconfigured the social and the natural in dramatic ways. The demand for Nile Perch and Dagaa played, willingly or unwillingly, an important role in converting its products into regionally and globally desired commodity. It has also simultaneously restructured the organisation of fisheries into a complex and aggressively managed sector. In fishing and fish trade, one needs to externalize costs and risks to the lower actors in the production and business hierarchy. From an historical point of view, power has shifted from many points of coordination and decision making into a few hands, those that own fishing camps and export processing factory. Moreover, illegal fishing and trading are continuous and corruption is rife to safe guard individual interest in turn shaping the local practices (governance) of Lake Victoria. Finally the debate about fisheries policies and fisheries regulation in L. Victoria does not address local realities and are largely irrelevant and that the real focus of power and driver of change is the international and regional markets for Nile Perch and Dagaa and global players with a lot of capital.

    Alternative Food Networks (AFNs) in Calabria : a sociological exploration of interaction dynamics
    amico, S. D' - \ 2015
    Wageningen University. Promotor(en): Han Wiskerke; G. Gulisano, co-promotor(en): Bettina Bock; Stefano Pascucci. - Wageningen : Wageningen University - ISBN 9789462572713 - 269
    voedsel - sociale netwerken - gemeenschappen - voedselvoorziening - voedselgroepen - consumenten - participatie - boeren - markten - landbouw - calabrië - italië - food - social networks - communities - food supply - food groups - consumers - participation - farmers - markets - agriculture - calabria - italy

    This thesis aims to advance the understanding of identities and roles of Alternative Food Networks (AFNs). It focusses on AFNs which operate in contexts where traditional aspects are still dominant within the local agrifood systems, and which act on both food provisioning and raising awareness about civic issues. This research examines the identities and roles of AFNs by shedding light on the dynamics of the organisation and implementation of their activities. For this, the thesis firstly adapts a theoretical and methodological framework – Interaction Ritual (IR) theory - for the investigation of social phenomena, starting by unveiling the functioning of their internal dynamics; secondly, it operationalises and applies the selected theoretical and methodological framework in order to analyse GAS M which is a case of an AFN. Namely it is a case of ‘Gruppo di Acquisto Solidale’ (Solidarity Purchasing Group - GAS).

    Below the main contributions and recommendations of this research are synthesised.

    1) This research contributes to the body of knowledge on AFNs by generating insight into the identity of an AFN which operates in a context of a traditional agrifood system, attributes to both consumers and consumer-based civil society organisations leading roles, and works on both food provisioning and activities of civic relevance. The research demonstrates that the identity of GAS M is not clearly defined. Instead, it is continuously re-shaped in response to the varying combination of material and civic activities and interests. The mentioned activities and interests attract different groups of people. It is especially the small group that manages GAS M that is interested in civic activities. Often people in this group choose the organisational arrangements that are in line with their interests so their interests override other people’s interests. GAS M is undergoing a process of ideological and material selection which, together with the pre-eminence of civic interests, has three main implications: a) the equity of the food provisioning system recreated by GAS M is reduced; b) its role as a creator of occasions where producers and consumers can satisfy their needs of buying and selling products with specific physical features is reduced. Furthermore, while its role in building community and creating spaces for socialising and learning is supported, it only reaches people sharing certain interests; c) the durability of GAS M and its likelihood of expansion are limited.

    2) The second result and contribution of this research is theoretical and methodological.

    First of all, the study contributes to refining IR theory. It represents a first attempt to apply the IR model in a study of AFN activities. The research reinterprets IR theory in an explorative and strictly dynamic-centred way. It operationalises the guidelines of IR theory for the collection and analysis of data that result naturally from normal everyday AFN interactions. Furthermore, this approach provides analytical tools to ascertain the intensity of AFNs’ activities, what attracts attention in these activities, which sort of attention, and what its significance is. 

    Secondly, this research has contributed towards advancing the existing body of research into AFN dynamics. Previous studies have focussed on processes of negotiating meaning in order to understand AFN identities and roles. Following IR theory, this research goes beyond the negotiation of meaning by analysing not only the content of interaction but also its intensity. In doing so the study shows not only which issues influence AFN identities and roles, but also which activities play an important role. In addition, the study provides insight into the dynamics of power and inclusivity in AFN interaction that is, among others, reflected in decision making about activities. Unlike previous studies which have looked into these questions by interviewing actors and relying on their rationalisations, this study explores these questions through the analysis of normal every day activities and interactions, and what is also being indicated as ‘natural data’. In this way, this research contributes to overcoming actors’ personal preferences and ideas, which may bias their rationalisations about these matters.

    3) Finally, this research gives some recommendations for further research. It advises to study more cases of AFN in order to check to what extent the results of this case-study may be generalizable.  Furthermore, it offers some inputs on how the approach can be used so as to consider a broader variety of cases in the analysis. Secondly, this research invites future researchers look into what influences the intensity of AFNs’ activities and contributes to their stabilisation, and to explore the causal relationship between civic and material activities and interests.


    Adaptive collaborative governance of Nepal's community forests: shifting power, strenghtening livelihoods
    McDougall, C.L. - \ 2015
    Wageningen University. Promotor(en): Cees Leeuwis, co-promotor(en): J.L.S. Jiggins. - Wageningen : Wageningen University - ISBN 9789462572881 - 322
    bewonersparticipatie - governance - sociale samenwerking - sociaal leren - natuurlijke hulpbronnen - bosbouw - gemeenschappen - middelen van bestaan - adaptatie - sociaal kapitaal - vrouwen - armoede - nepal - community participation - governance - social cooperation - social learning - natural resources - forestry - communities - livelihoods - adaptation - social capital - women - poverty - nepal

    Short Summary

    Cynthia McDougall--PhD Dissertation

    Knowledge, Technology, &Innovation Chairgroup (WASS)

    Adaptive collaborative governance of Nepal’s community forests: Shifting power, strengthening livelihoods

    Community-based natural resource governance has taken root around the globe. And, yet, as demonstrated by community forestry in Nepal, such programmes have generally not yet lived up to their goals and expectations. After decades of implementation, community forestry in Nepal faces several key challenges. Central to these challenges are: the need to increase equity in community forest user group decision making and benefit sharing; and, to increase the livelihood benefits from community forestry overall. The research project on which this study is based sought to address these challenges at the community forest user group scale. The research objective was to contribute empirically-based insights regarding if and how adaptive collaborative governance of community forests in Nepal can constructively influence engagement, livelihoods, social capital and conflict—especially in regard to women and the poor. Further, the research aimed to elucidate the underlying issue of power in community-based natural resource governance. In particular, it sought to contribute deeper, theoretically-based understanding of the persistence of power imbalances in community forestry, and of the potential of adaptive collaborative governance to shift such imbalances.

    Plant diversity and identity effects on predatory nematodes and their prey
    Kostenko, O. ; Duyts, H. ; Grootemaat, S. ; Deyn, G.B. de; Bezemer, T.M. - \ 2015
    Ecology and Evolution 5 (2015)4. - ISSN 2045-7758 - p. 836 - 847.
    entomopathogenic nematodes - biological-control - biodiversity experiment - parasitic nematodes - food-web - soil - communities - grasslands - steinernema - populations
    There is considerable evidence that both plant diversity and plant identity can influence the level of predation and predator abundance aboveground. However, how the level of predation in the soil and the abundance of predatory soil fauna are related to plant diversity and identity remains largely unknown. In a biodiversity field experiment, we examined the effects of plant diversity and identity on the infectivity of entomopathogenic nematodes (EPNs, Heterorhabditis and Steinernema spp.), which prey on soil arthropods, and abundance of carnivorous non-EPNs, which are predators of other nematode groups. To obtain a comprehensive view of the potential prey/food availability, we also quantified the abundance of soil insects and nonpredatory nematodes and the root biomass in the experimental plots. We used structural equation modeling (SEM) to investigate possible pathways by which plant diversity and identity may affect EPN infectivity and the abundance of carnivorous non-EPNs. Heterorhabditis spp. infectivity and the abundance of carnivorous non-EPNs were not directly related to plant diversity or the proportion of legumes, grasses and forbs in the plant community. However, Steinernema spp. infectivity was higher in monocultures of Festuca rubra and Trifolium pratense than in monocultures of the other six plant species. SEM revealed that legumes positively affected Steinernema infectivity, whereas plant diversity indirectly affected the infectivity of Heterorhabditis EPNs via effects on the abundance of soil insects. The abundance of prey (soil insects and root-feeding, bacterivorous, and fungivorous nematodes) increased with higher plant diversity. The abundance of prey nematodes was also positively affected by legumes. These plant community effects could not be explained by changes in root biomass. Our results show that plant diversity and identity effects on belowground biota (particularly soil nematode community) can differ between organisms that belong to the same feeding guild and that generalizations about plant diversity effects on soil organisms should be made with great caution.
    Positive shrub-tree interactions facilitate woody encroachment in boreal peatlands
    Holmgren, M. ; Lin, C.Y. ; Murillo, J.E. ; Nieuwenhuis, A. ; Penninkhof, J.M. ; Sanders, N. ; Bart, T. van; Veen, H. van; Vasander, H. ; Vollebregt, M.E. ; Limpens, J. - \ 2015
    Journal of Ecology 103 (2015). - ISSN 0022-0477 - p. 58 - 66.
    scots pine - sphagnum - bogs - growth - mire - communities - recruitment - transitions - sylvestris - ecosystems
    1. Boreal ecosystems are warming roughly twice as fast as the global average, resulting in woody expansion that could further speed up the climate warming. Boreal peatbogs are waterlogged systems that store more than 30% of the global soil carbon. Facilitative effects of shrubs and trees on the establishment of new individuals could increase tree cover with profound consequences for the structure and functioning of boreal peatbogs, carbon sequestration and climate. 2. We conducted two field experiments in boreal peatbogs to assess the mechanisms that explain tree seedling recruitment and to estimate the strength of positive feedbacks between shrubs and trees. We planted seeds and seedlings of Pinus sylvestris in microsites with contrasting water-tables and woody cover and manipulated both shrub canopy and root competition. We monitored seedling emergence, growth and survival for up to four growing seasons and assessed how seedling responses related to abiotic and biotic conditions. 3. We found that tree recruitment is more successful in drier topographical microsites with deeper water-tables. On these hummocks, shrubs have both positive and negative effects on tree seedling establishment. Shrub cover improved tree seedling condition, growth and survival during the warmest growing season. In turn, higher tree basal area correlates positively with soil nutrient availability, shrub biomass and abundance of tree juveniles. 4. Synthesis. Our results suggest that shrubs facilitate tree colonization of peatbogs which further increases shrub growth. These facilitative effects seem to be stronger under warmer conditions suggesting that a higher frequency of warmer and dry summers may lead to stronger positive interactions between shrubs and trees that could eventually facilitate a shift from moss to tree-dominated systems.
    Relationship patterns in food purchase: observing social interactions in different shopping environments
    Cicatiello, C. ; Pancino, B. ; Pascucci, S. ; Franco, S. - \ 2015
    Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 28 (2015)1. - ISSN 1187-7863 - p. 21 - 42.
    farmers markets - local food - embeddedness - networks - agriculture - communities - consumption - knowledge - quality - economy
    The social dimension of purchase seems particularly important when it comes to food, since it can contribute to foster “consumers’ embeddedness” in the local food system. The discussion on this topic is growing after the emergence of alternative food networks (AFNs), which are thought to have potentials to re-connect the different actors of local food systems, and/or to strengthen the existing social ties among them. This study focuses on the evaluation of the degree of sociality in different food shopping environments. The research is focused on the structure and the features of the interactions, with the aim to provide an assessment of the degree of sociality of AFNs compared to other food chain networks. More specifically, a farmers’ market, a greengrocer and a supermarket have been compared. The three shopping environments show remarkable differences: in the supermarket perfunctory interactions are most often observed, unless shoppers already know each other, whereas the farmers’ market environment is likely to foster quite intense relations among strangers; the greengrocer, on the contrary, shows a completely different pattern of relations, typically involving customers who already know each other. Results support the common argument that farmers’ markets may enhance sociality among people, although some interesting relations patterns are observed in the other food stores as well. Issues for further research in the field emerge, which might be useful to improve the understanding of the social dimension of food shopping as well as to more deeply analyse the elements of attractiveness of AFNs.
    Earthworm assemblages as affected by field margin strips and tillage intensity: An on-farm approach
    Crittenden, S. ; Huerta, E. ; Goede, R.G.M. de; Pulleman, M.M. - \ 2015
    European Journal of Soil Biology 66 (2015). - ISSN 1164-5563 - p. 49 - 56.
    conservation tillage - land-use - soil - population - communities - diversity - abundance - systems - growth - term
    Earthworm species contribute to soil ecosystem functions in varying ways. Important soil functions like structural maintenance and nutrient cycling are affected by earthworms, thus it is essential to understand how arable farm management influences earthworm species. One aim of arable field margin strips and non-inversion tillage is to enhance agrobiodiversity, however their influence on earthworm species assemblages remains unclear. In particular, on-farm studies conducted over multiple years that capture variability across the landscape are rare. The current study monitored earthworm species assemblages on 4 farms in Hoeksche Waard, The Netherlands, from 2010 to 2012. It was hypothesised that arable field margin strips (FM) and non-inversion tillage (NIT; a reduced tillage system that loosens subsoil at 30-35 cm depth) would have higher earthworm species abundances (epigeics and anecics in particular), soil organic matter, and soil moisture than adjacent mouldboard ploughing (MP) fields, and that earthworm numbers would decrease with distance away from FM into arable fields (MP only). FM contained a mean total earthworm abundance of 284 m-2 and biomass of 84 g m-2 whereas adjacent MP arable fields had only 164 earthworms m-2 and 31 g m-2. Aporrectodea rosea, Lumbricus rubellus, Lumbricus terrestris, and Lumbricus castaneus were significantly more abundant in FM than adjacent arable soil under MP. However, no decreasing trend with distance from FM was observed in earthworm species abundances. A tillage experiment initiated on the farms with FM showed that relative to MP, NIT significantly increased mean total earthworm abundance by 34% to 275 m-2 and mean total earthworm biomass by 15% to 51 g m-2 overall sampling dates and farms. L. rubellus, A. rosea, and L. terrestris were significantly more abundant overall in NIT than MP. FM and NIT positively affected earthworm species richness and abundances and it is noteworthy that these effects could be observed despite variation in environmental conditions and soil properties between samplings, farms, and crops. Higher top-soil organic matter and less physical disturbance in FM and NIT likely contributed to higher earthworm species richness and abundances. The anecic species L. terrestris (linked to water infiltration and organic matter incorporation) was more abundant in FM, but densities remained very low in arable soil, irrespective of tillage system.
    Ecological contrasts drive responses of wintering farmland birds to conservation management
    Hammers, M. ; Muskens, G.J.D.M. ; Kats, R.J.M. van; Teunissen, W.A. ; Kleijn, D. - \ 2015
    Ecography 38 (2015)8. - ISSN 0906-7590 - p. 813 - 821.
    agri-environment schemes - agricultural intensification - biodiversity - populations - grassland - food - metaanalysis - communities - diversity - declines
    In the past decades, large-scale conservation programs have been implemented to halt the decline of farmland species. The mechanisms explaining the effectiveness of these programs remain poorly understood. Here we test the recent hypothesis that the effects of conservation management are determined by the ecological contrasts in limiting resources they create relative to the baseline situation. We examine responses of wintering seed-eating farmland birds to the experimental establishment of winter food plots in areas with contrasting food availability. We found that farmland bird abundance and species richness were strongly positively related to seed availability, regardless of compositional differences between agricultural landscapes. In line with the ecological contrast hypothesis, the responses of wintering farmland birds increased with increasing conservation induced contrast in a key limiting resource. Both contrasts and relative responses were negatively related to baseline food availability, but the absolute bird density in food plots was unrelated to baseline food availability. This indicates that both relative and absolute effects of conservation management need to be considered to properly evaluate the effectiveness of conservation management.
    The ecosystem engineer Crassostrea gigas affects tidal flat morphology beyond the boundary of their reef structures
    Walles, B. ; Salvador de Paiva, J. ; Prooijen, B. van; Ysebaert, T. ; Smaal, A.C. - \ 2015
    Estuaries and coasts 38 (2015)3. - ISSN 1559-2723 - p. 941 - 950.
    wadden sea - sediment dynamics - pacific oysters - native mussels - habitat - estuary - stabilization - enhancement - communities - adaptation
    Ecosystem engineers that inhabit coastal and estuarine environments, such as reef building oysters, do not only stabilise the sediment within their reefs, but their influence might also extend far outside their reefs, affecting tidal flat morphology and protecting the surrounding soft-sediment environment against erosion. However, quantitative information is largely missing, and the spatially extended ecosystem engineering effects on the surrounding soft-sediment largely unstudied. To quantify this, we measured elevations around eleven natural Crassostrea gigas reefs occurring on tidal flats in the Oosterschelde estuary (the Netherlands). These tidal flats experience strong erosion as a consequence of human interventions in the system. Various reef sizes were chosen to test the proportional effects of reefs on tidal flat morphology. Measurements were used to create 3-dimensional surface maps to obtain properties of the reefs and the surrounding soft-sediment environment. The area of the oyster reefs ranged from 2 to 1,908 m2. Reef length varied between 1 and 61 m, reef width between 1 and 45 m, and reef height between 0.20 and 1.08 m. Reefs varied in shape, going from round shape structures to more elongated ones. We observed elevated areas (>5 cm elevation from the background intertidal slope) on the lee side of all reefs, caused by the interaction between the reef’s structure and locally prevailing wave conditions. The elevated area (i.e. the spatially extended ecosystem engineering effect) affected by the reef was of the same order of magnitude as the reef area. The elevated area was related to reef properties such as reef length, width, and height. Reef length, however, appeared to be the best predictor. These findings contribute to management solutions for coastal adaptation and protection. Our study clearly showed that oyster reefs not only protect the tidal flat under their footprint, but as well an area beyond the boundary of the reef
    Changing patterns of basic household consumption in the Inner Mongolian grasslands: a case study of policy-oriented adoptive changes in the use of grasslands
    Du, B. ; Zhen, L. ; Groot, R.S. de; Goulden, C.E. ; Long, X. ; Cao, X. ; Wu, R. ; Sun, C. - \ 2014
    The Rangeland Journal 36 (2014)5. - ISSN 1036-9872 - p. 505 - 517.
    energy-consumption - northern china - vegetation - land - food - communities - management - attitudes - responses - selection
    Grassland ecosystems, as the basic natural resources in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, are becoming increasingly sensitive to human intervention, leading to deterioration in fragile ecosystems. The goal of this study was to describe the restoration policy-oriented adoptive changes to basic household consumption patterns of food, fuel, and water, and their spatial distribution by grassland types in the region. Basic household consumption data were collected in the meadow steppe (Hulun Buir), typical steppe (Xilin Gol), and semi-desert steppe (Ordos) ecosystems using structured questionnaires administered to 209 herders and farmers. In 2010, the householders' intake comprised a low amount of agricrops, including staple foods, vegetables and fruit with a high amount of meat, which still dominated the patterns of food consumption. However, the number of households preferring this pattern is decreasing and higher amounts of agri-crop and lower amounts of meat consumption pattern is increasing. From 1995 to 2010, fuel consumption patterns changed from being dominated by bio-fuels (dung) to being dominated mainly by electricity and gas. However, bio-fuel remains a major energy source for daily life in the meadow steppe ecosystem. In all three surveyed grassland types, the use of coal, electricity and gas increased from 1995 to 2010. The source of domestic water in all three surveyed areas is from groundwater, with an increasing trend to use tap water from a public supply rather than from privately owned wells.
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