SauKlim project:    The ecology and economy of sheep production under climate change  

Sheep utilize grass forage resources in landscapes too poor to use for more intensive agricultural purposes, and sheep husbandry is a cornerstone of the economy in many rural areas of Norway.
Currently some 2.1 million sheep are released each summer onto outlying pastures. The predicted climate change with more precipitation, warmer temperature, and an overall increase in variability are of an order of magnitude that several stages in the production cycle of sheep may be affected. The overall aim is to understand how climate variability affects the ecology and economy of sheep production in ecosystems differing in productivity and stocking rates to enable prediction of how climatic regimes can best be met by management actions.
SauKlim funding: NFR - "Mat-programmet"; 1.04.2009-30.06.2012.

Project leader:
Post doc on the project
  • Anders Nielsen, CEES, University of Oslo.
  • Nigel G. Yoccoz, Inst. of biology, University of Tromsø.
  • Geir Storvik and Øyvind Bleka, CEES and Dep. of Mathematics, UiO.
  • Anders Skonhoft, Dep. of economics, NTNU
  • Øystein Holand and Geir Steinheim, Dep. of Animal and Aquacultural Sciences, UMB
  • Yngve Rekdal and Michael Angeloff, Norwegian Forest and Landscape institute
  • Arne O. Skjelvåg, Inst. for plant and environmental sciences, UMB
  • Kari Anne Wilberg, Norwegian Sheep and Goat farmer association.
  • Jean-Michel Gaillard, University of Lyon, France
Ecological analysis
The project will perform analysis of extensive (>8 million lambs) and long-term (21 yrs) data on autumn lamb body mass and litter size from the whole of Norway coupled with (full coverage) satellite data on climate, local weather and plant development (NDVI) to determine the links by which climate affect sheep production. Data on pasture production of winter forage (timothy) and sales of concentrate will enable discerning also delayed effects on other stages in the production cycle. 
Economic modelling
Through economic modelling within a dynamic sheep-plant framework, and knowledge from the planned analysis on any climate and stocking rate interaction, the optimal stocking rates with increased climate variability will be estimated at alpine ranges differing in habitat productivity. 
Overall aim
The project aim to end with concrete advice as to how farmers can buffer climate effects (e.g. stocking rates, birth dates, more dynamic release dates, change of breeds or winter feeding), and to understand what might be the main constraints to buffering for climate effects (e.g., limited space in barn, spring pastures etc.).

[12. May 2011] Project meeting in Oslo. Results are starting to appear!
[22. Nov. 2010] Kari Anne Kaxrud Wilberg takes over as the sheep association representative at the project, after Håvard Øyrehagen. Welcome!

[June 2010]  Øyvind Bleka will take a Master thesis on sheep synchrony. He is connected to the Dep. of Mathematics, and to have such an expertise is great - as many challenges on the project are of the statistical sort.
[29. April 2010] Meeting on the project of most members to discuss progress. We also invited Nathalie Pettorelli to discuss NDVI.
[1. July 2009] Anders Nielsen starting his post doc. Welcome!

[22. April 2009] Start up meeting was held here at CEES.
[1. April 2009] Project is officially starting.
[18. March 2009] Evaluation process for post doc is complete. Anders Nielsen was offered the position, and he has said yes.
[18. February 2009] Deadline for application to 3 year post doc. 21 applications were received.