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SOM - Senna obtusifolia Management in West Africa

Towards an efficient management of the invasive plant Senna obtusifolia, a novel threat to West Africa’s rangeland

The Logo of the Uni Quagadougou
Foto: Logo Uni Quagadougou


West African rangelands are invaded by Senna obtusifolia, a non-palatable annual legume. Its invasion has negative ecological and economic impacts in Sahelian countries. However, the reasons for its recent invasion as well as consequences for local ecosystems and livelihoods are poorly understood.
Aims: This project aims to identify environmental drivers that promote the expansion of S. obtusifolia, to determine effects of S. obtusifolia invasion on ecosystem functions and services, , and to propose potential solutions and best-practices to control the invasion of S. obtusifolia and its negative impacts on rangelands.
Approach: This project will combine different methods from the natural and social sciences to render an improved scientific knowledge on causes and effects of S. obtusifolia invasion.
(a) Field observations: We will collect ecological data along a steep climatic gradient, contrasting sites with various levels of invasion. To assess effects of S. obtusifolia invasion on forage provision, we will apply field spectroscopy.
(b) Experiment: A greenhouse experiment will be implemented to elucidate the local adaptation rates of S. obtusifolia.
(c) Comparative anthropological approach: Interviews will be used to explore the ecological knowledge of rural populations, related to local management strategies applied to control S. obtusifolia.
Stakeholder integration: A national risk map of S. obtusifolia invasion, technical reports and a manual of best practices to control land invasion by S. obtusifolia will be provided to stakeholders.
Person in charge

Dr. Oumarou Ouédraogo, Laboratory of Plant Biology and Ecology, University of Ouagadougou

Persons involvedGerman Host:  Prof. Dr. Anja Linstädter
German Postdoctoral Fellow: Jessica Ferner
Cooperation Partners

German Mentors
Prof. Dr. Sebastian Schmidtlein, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Prof. Dr. Oliver Bossdorf, Institute of Evolution & Ecology, University of Tübingen
Prof. Dr. Eva Schlecht, Animal Husbandry in the Tropics and Subtropics, University of Göttingen

African Mentors
Prof. Dr. Adjima Thiombiano, University of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
Dr. Gabin Korbéogo, Department of Sociology, University of Ouagadougou

Runtime06/2017 – 06/2020
FundingVolkswagen Foundation (Knowledge for Tomorrow – Cooperative Research Projects in Sub-Saharan Africa)