Ecosystem services, biodiversity and human wellbeing along climate gradients in smallholder agroecosystems in the Terai Plains of Nepal and Northern Ghana

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


Increasingly unpredictable, extreme and erratic rainfall with higher temperatures threatens to undermine the adaptive capacity of food systems and ecological resilience of smallholder landscapes. Despite growing concern, land managers still lack quantitative techniques to collect empirical data about the potential impact of climatic variability and change. This thesis aims to assess how ecosystem services and function and how this links with biodiversity and human wellbeing in smallholder agro-ecosystems in a changing climate. To this end, rather than relying on scenarios or probabilistic modelling, space was used as a proxy for time to compare states in disparate climatic conditions. Furthermore, an integrated methodological framework to assess ecosystem services at the field and landscape level was developed and operationalised, the results of which can be modelled with measures of wellbeing. Various multidisciplinary analytical tools were utilised, including ecological and socio-economic surveys, biological assessments, participatory open enquiry, and documenting ethnobotanical knowledge. The study was located within monsoon rice farms in the Terai Plains of Nepal, and dry season vegetable farms in Northern Ghana. Sites were selected that are climatically and culturally diverse to enable comparative analysis, with application to broad areas of adaptive planning.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Department of Zoology, University of Oxford
  • Willis, Kathy J., Supervisor, External person
  • Thornton, Thomas F. , Supervisor, External person
  • Helfgott, Ariella, Supervisor, External person
Award date1 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - May 2016

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