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Animal Sciences | Environmental Studies | Sustainability


Information, energy, and materials are flowing over greater distances than in the past, changing the structure and feedbacks within and across coupled human and natural systems worldwide. The telecoupling framework was recently developed to understand the feedbacks and multidirectional flows characterizing social and environmental interactions between distant systems. We extend the application of the telecoupling framework to illustrate how flows in beef affect and are affected by social-ecological processes occurring between distant systems in Africa, and how those dynamics will likely change over the next few decades because of climate-induced shifts in a major bovine disease, trypanosomosis. The disease is currently wide-spread in Africa, affecting millions of cattle every year and resulting in massive economic losses. Increasing temperatures are predicted to substantially reduce the geographic range of the cattle disease by 2050 in regions of Africa, thereby potentially releasing cattle from disease control in those areas. Despite the societal and economic benefits, greater cattle production can also lead to significant environmental degradation. Our investigation takes a qualitative, yet systematic, approach to explore how changes in the regional distribution of cattle production, caused by shifts in the bovine disease, will affect the social and ecological conditions of the telecoupled system in the future. Doing so lays the groundwork to quantify telecouplings and improve decision making under uncertainty in the future.



Issue Number


Page Numbers

10-1 - 10-10

DOI Link


This document was originally published in Ecology and Society by the Resilience Alliance. This work is provided under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International license. Details regarding the use of this work can be found at: doi: 10.5751/ES-09872-230110