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PhD Dissertation Defense - Tonya Haigh

Using Post-Event Surveys of Rangeland Managers to Assess Adaptive Capacity

Date: Time: 10:00 am–11:00 am
Hardin Hall Room: 207 South
Additional Info: HARH
Contact: Mark Burbach, mburbach1@unl.edu
Rangeland managers face challenges to adapt to climate extremes. Post-event assessments might be useful for understanding managers’ adaptive capacity to hazards such as drought. This study evaluates adaptive capacity using an integrated vulnerability and resilience conceptual model and protective action decision-making models. Overarching research questions include: 1) For rangeland managers experiencing drought, how should we describe the relationship between protective action and impacts? 2) For rangeland managers experiencing drought, what are the best predictors of taking protective action?

The study addresses these questions using quantitative data collected from two post-drought (2012-2013 and 2016) surveys of rangeland-based livestock managers in the Northern Great Plains of the U.S. Statistical analysis showed that drought management actions only lessened impacts if taken at appropriate times during the drought. The timing of protective actions was predicted by characteristics of the operation that provided management flexibility during drought, and was associated with managers’ on-farm monitoring of conditions and perception of drought management knowledge as a barrier to their success. Neither the use of drought early warning information, nor having a drought plan, was associated with the timing of most actions.

Assessing adaptive capacity requires identifying the actions (and the timing of the actions) that lessen impact, as well as the characteristics of the system that enable or support those actions. The post-drought survey appears to be an effective means of assessing these relationships and informing decisions about investments in adaptive capacity for agricultural management.

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