University of Maine / GNU Landscapes

Robin Reid & Randy Boone
Colorado State University

Rob Lilieholm
School of Forest Resources

Initiative Description and Primary Objectives 

We are using hourly GPS tracking of wildebeest, along with Bayesian Belief Network models of land use change, to understand how migratory wildlife will react and adapt to changing land uses and climate change.

Key Academic Disciplines 

Agent-based modeling of wildebeest, alternative futures modeling using Bayesian Belief Networks (BBN).

Key Partner Organizations and Individuals 

CSU and UMaine, as well as the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Nairobi, and the Kenya Wildlife Authority.

Initiative History and Champions 

Primary motivators include Robin Reid (formerly of ILRI and now with CSU), Randy Boone (CSU), Rob Lilieholm (UMaine) and others. Also important was a $680,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.

Distinctiveness and Strategic Significance of the Initiative 

We are working in one of the most significant ecosystems in the world – Kenya’s Nairobi National Park and surrounding areas – to understand how development and migratory behavior interact across the landscape. Our goal is to facilitate meaningful change in land use policies that will allow for continued migration of important wildlife species.

Measurable Effectiveness of the Initiative 

Our models are bringing a new perspective to landscape-level conservation issues. Kenya has a window of opportunity to enact land use policies that can protect migratory species, and in doing so support the country’s important ecotourism sector.

Transferability of the Initiative 

Our agent-based models of animal migration, coupled with a BBN-approach to stakeholder-derived land suitability models and futures scenarios, has application worldwide.

The Initiative’s Ability to Endure 

Nairobi National Park is likely at a threshold wrt development and the sustainability of wildebeest and other migratory wildlife. Regardless of what happens there, the lessons learned from our research will have application in other less-impacted areas of East Africa and beyond.

Engagement Strategies 

We have several graduate students in the U.S. and Kenya working on the project.