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LLL - Limpopo Living Landscapes


Aims: As part of the subproject “Livelihoods and farming systems”, we focus on the ecology and on adaptive management options of Limpopo’s rangelands. Our ultimate goal is to help farmers achieve resilience in their livelihoods, and to cope better with future climatic conditions.

Approach: To generate results on spatial and temporal scales relevant for decision-making, we combine (a) experiments with (b) field observations and (c) modelling approaches.

(a) Experiments: At the heart of our activities is our field experiment LLL DroughtAct, located on the Experimental Farm of the University of Limpopo (see map). By combining grazing and drought treatments, we address two main research questions: (1) What determines rangelands’ stability (buffering capacity) in face of drought? (2) What are suitable management interventions to avoid degradation (shifts to undesirable states)?

(b) Field observations: These mainly focus on the LLL core villages to facilitate a close cooperation with other subprojects. 

·       Our study sites are arranged along a steep climatic gradient in the Limpopo region

·        We collect field data on the functioning and ecosystem service supply of rangeland ecosystems

·        We also harness farmers’ local knowledge on ecosystem services and management options

(c) Modelling approaches: In collaboration with LLL partners, our findings are integrated in an adaptive Global Dynamic Vegetation Model (aDGVM) to better understand the opportunities for increasing productivity and decreasing risk in crop and livestock production in Limpopo.

There are options to participate as a student volunteer or for MSc/BSc level theses. Applications should be sent to Anja Linstädter.

Also see our regularly updated project homepage on ResearchGate!


PD Dr Anja Linstädter

Persons involved

PostDoc: Dr Anke Frank
Affiliated PostDoc: Dr Jan C. Ruppert
PhD student: Liana Kindermann
PhD student: Edwin Mudongo
PhD student: Vincent Mokoka


10/2013 – 03/2018


SPACES Call of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)


Prof Dr Johannes Isselstein, Grassland Science, Department of Crop Sciences, Georg-August-Universität, Göttingen
Dr Simon Scheiter, BiK-F, Senckenberg Natural History Museum and Research Institute, Frankfurt am Main
Prof Dr Jürgen Schellberg, Institute of Crop Science and Resource Conservation, University of Bonn
Prof Dr Teja Tscharntke, Agroecology, Department of Crop Science, Georg-August-Universität, Göttingen

South Africa
Louis Eloff, Experimental Farm Syferkuil, School of Science and Agriculture, University of Limpopo
Dr Steven W Evans, School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences, University of Venda
Prof Dr Kingsley Ayisi, Risk and Vulnerability Assessment Centre, University of Limpopo
Prof Dr Barend Erasmus, School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Science, University of the Witwatersrand
Prof Dr Stefan Foord, Department of Zoology, University of Venda
Dr Jorrie J. Jordaan, Department of Plant Production, University of Limpopo
Prof Dr Jones Ng'ambi, Department of Agricultural Economics and Animal Production, University of Limpopo



Linstädter, A., A. Kuhn, C. Naumann, S. Rasch, A. Sandhage-Hofmann, W. Amelung, J. Jordaan, C. C. Du Preez, and M. Bollig. 2016. Assessing the resilience of a real-world social-ecological system: Lessons from a multi-disciplinary evaluation of a South African pastoral system. Ecology and Society 21:35. DOI: 10.5751/ES-08737-210335

Martin, R., A. Linstädter, K. Frank, and B. Müller. 2016. Livelihood security in face of drought – Assessing the vulnerability of pastoral households. Environmental Modelling & Software 75:414–423. DOI: 10.1016/j.envsoft.2014.10.012

Mudongo, E. I., R. W. S. Fynn, and M. C. Bonyongo. 2016. Role of herbivore impact and subsequent timing and extent of recovery periods in rangelands. Rangeland Ecology & Management 69: 327-333. DOI: 10.1016/j.rama.2016.04.003

Oomen, R. J., Linstädter, A., J. C. Ruppert, K. Brüser, J. Schellberg, and F. A. Ewert. 2016. Effect of tenure system on biomass and vegetation cover in two biomes in South Africa. African Journal of Range & Forage Science 33:185-198. DOI: 10.2989/10220119.2016.1218368

Müller, B., J. Schulze, D. Kreuer, A. Linstädter, and K. Frank. 2015. How to avoid unsustainable side effects of managing climate risk in drylands – The supplementary feeding controversy. Agricultural Systems 139:153–165. DOI: 10.1016/j.agsy.2015.07.001

Ruppert, J.C., Harmoney, K., Henkin, Z., Snyman, H.A., Sternberg, M., Willms, W., Linstädter, A., 2015. Quantifying drylands’ drought resistance and recovery: The importance of drought intensity, dominant life history and grazing regime. Global Change Biology 21: 1258-1270. DOI: 10.1111/gcb.12777

Ruppert, J. C. and A. Linstädter, 2014. Convergence between ANPP estimation methods in grasslands – A practical solution to the comparability dilemma. Ecological Indicators 36:524-531. DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2013.09.008

Linstädter, A., Schellberg, J., Brüser, K., Moreno-García, C., Oomen, R.J., du Preez, C., Ruppert, J.C. & F. Ewert, 2014. Are there consistent grazing indicators in drylands? Testing plant functional types of various complexity in South Africa’s grassland and savanna biomes. PLoS ONE 9(8): e104672. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0104672