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(Senna Obtusifolia Management) - Towards an efficient management of the invasive plant Senna obtusifolia, a novel threat to West Africa’s rangelands

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Project PI

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

Project aim

West African rangelands are invaded by Senna obtusifolia, a non-palatable and non-nodulating annual legume. Its invasion has negative ecological and economic impacts in Sahelian countries. Despite its growing impact and its expansion into the Sudanian zone, the reasons for its recent invasion as well as consequences for local ecosystems and livelihoods are poorly understood. 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, to examine perceptions of local land-users on S. obtusifolia expansion and their respective adaptation strategies, and to propose potential solutions and best-practices to control the invasion of S. obtusifolia and its negative impacts on rangelands. We will collect ecological data along a steep climatic gradient, contrasting sites with various levels of invasion. A greenhouse experiment will be implemented to elucidate the local adaptation rates of S. obtusifolia. To assess effects of S. obtusifolia invasion on forage provision, we will apply field spectroscopy. Interviews will be used to explore the ecological knowledge of rural populations, related to local management strategies applied to control S. obtusifolia. This project will render an improved scientific knowledge on causes and effects of S. obtusifolia invasion. Moreover, 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.

Run time

06/2017 – 06/2020

Study areas

Sudanian and Sahelian zone of Burkina Faso, West Africa


German Host: PD Dr. Anja Linstädter; University of Cologne

African Mentor: Prof. Dr. Adjima Thiombiano, University Ouaga

German Mentor: Prof. Dr. Sebastian Schmidtlein, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)

German Postdoctoral Fellow: Jessica Ferner, University of Bonn

Cooperation partners

Germany: 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

West Africa: Dr. Gabin Korbéogo, Department of Sociology, University of Ouagadougou

Funding agency

Volkswagen Foundation (Knowledge for Tomorrow – Cooperative Research Projects in Sub-Saharan Africa)

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