Ben Strohbach

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Staff Details

Office Location: 
Office Block, Office Number 126
Qualification: 
PhD.: Veg. Ecol. (GER) (HAM), M.Sc.: (Botany) (Potch.), B.Sc.: (Hons),B.Sc. (Potch.)
Biography: 

Research interest:

My interests lie in vegetation- and landscape ecology, ranging from baseline studies to applied management options. I am leading the Vegetation Survey of Namibia project, specifically aiming at providing a baseline description of the natural vegetation of Namibia. This project covers a large variety of climatic zones, landscapes and ecosystems in Namibia. Vegetation description and mapping is done at large (regional or landscape) scale, as well as at local small-scale studies on particular farm and/or conservancies. For management purposes, the vegetation is also described i.t.o. its suitability for livestock farming as well as it’s sensitivity to (potential) disturbance. Vegetation is not a stable feature of the landscape, but responds to anthropogenic pressure as well as climatic drivers. Changing climate has been experienced over the past years in Namibia, and future trends are uncertain. More extreme climatic conditions are predicted for the subcontinent – bigger rain storms, more heat extremes, but also more severe dry spells. To monitor the effect of such changing climate, we are engaged with long-term monitoring of vegetation throughout the country, in collaboration with the University of Hamburg and the Gobabeb Research and Training Centre. For the purpose of long-term monitoring we have 21 biodiversity observatories throughout the country on which we regularly resurvey the plant biodiversity. These biodiversity observatories are supplemented by a number of auxiliary observatories, in which we can monitor for very specific purposes like erosion, specific plant species and -stands or lichen cover. With the annual monitoring, large emphasis is placed on monitoring using repeat aerial photography using state-of-the-art UAV technology. This technology is also used for specific applications like mapping and monitoring alien invasive species stands, stands of endemic species, as well as monitoring erosion features, and the success rate of the rehabilitation of these erosion features. A special mention is to be made of an application in the mining industry, were we are monitoring the health and success of rehabilitation work at mines with UAV technology. With the UAV technology I am combining the interesting fields of botany, vegetation ecology, remote sensing and GIS into one. I am also a keen photographer of plants and landscapes, and have contributed extensively to online plant identification guides as well as for field identification guides in the past.

 

Key publications:

Hüttich, C., Gessner, U., Herold, M., Strohbach, B. J., Schmidt, M., Keil, M., & Dech, S. (2009). On the Suitability of MODIS Time Series Metrics to Map Vegetation Types in Dry Savanna Ecosystems: A Case Study in the Kalahari of NE Namibia. Remote Sensing, 1(4), 620–643. https://doi.org/10.3390/rs1040620

Strohbach, B. J., & Jürgens, N. (2010). Towards a user-friendly vegetation map of Namibia: ground truthing approach to vegetation mapping. In U. Schmiedel & N. Jürgens (Eds.), Patterns and Processes at Regional Scale (Vol. 2, pp. 46–56). Göttingen & Windhoek: Klaus Hess Publishers.

Strohbach, B. J., & Jankowitz, W. J. (2012). Phytosociology of the Farm Haribes in the Nama-Karoo Biome of southern Namibia. Koedoe - African Protected Area Conservation and Science, 54(1), 8–20. http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/koedoe.v54i1.1038

Strohbach, B. J. (2013). Vegetation of the Okavango River valley in Kavango West, Namibia. Biodiversity & Ecology, 5, 321–339. https://doi.org/DOI: 10.7809/b-e.00286

Strohbach, B. J. (2014). Vegetation of the Eastern Communal Conservancies in Namibia: I. Phytosociological descriptions. Koedoe - African Protected Area Conservation and Science, 56(1).

Strohbach, B. J., & Kutuahuripa, J. T. (2014). Vegetation of the Eastern Communal Conservancies in Namibia: II. Environmental drivers. Koedoe - African Protected Area Conservation and Science, 56.

Strohbach, B. J., & Walters, H. J. A. (2015). An overview of grass species used for thatching in the Zambezi, Kavango East and Kavango West Regions, Namibia. Dinteria, 35, 13–42.

Strohbach, B. J., Ntesa, C., Kabajani, M., Shidolo, E. K., & D’Alton, C. D. (2015). Prosopis encroachment along the Fish River at Gibeon, Namibia. I. Habitat preferences, population densities and the effect on the environment. Dinteria, 35, 53–73.

Strohbach, B. J., Kabajani, M. W., Ntesa, C., Ndjamba, J., Shekunyenge, A., & Amutenya, J. U. (2015). Prosopis encroachment along the Fish River at Gibeon, Namibia. II. Harvestable wood biomass. Dinteria, 35, 74–87.

Strohbach, B. J. (2017). Vegetation of the Auas-Oanob Conservancy in the Khomas Hochland of Namibia. Namibian Journal of Environment, 1.

Oldeland, J., Große-Stoltenberg, A., Naftal, L., & Strohbach, B. J. (2017). The potential of UAV derived image features for discriminating savannah tree species. In R. Díaz-Delgado, R. Lucas, & C. Hurford (Eds.), The Roles of Remote Sensing in Nature Conservation (pp. 183–201). Springer International Publishing.

Strohbach, B. J. (2018). Determining the degree of deforestation in the Omusati Region, northern Namibia, with the aid of drone imagery. In R. Revermann, K. M. Krewenka, U. Schmiedel, J. M. Olwoch, J. Helmschrot, & N. Jürgens (Eds.), Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management in southern Africa (pp. 370–377). Göttingen & Windhoek: Klaus Hess Publishers.

Jürgens, N., Strohbach, B. J., Lages, F., Schmiedel, U., Finckh, M., Sichone, P., … Zigelski, P. (2018). Biodiversity observation – an overview of the current state and first results of biodiversity monitoring studies. In R. Revermann, K. M. Krewenka, U. Schmiedel, J. M. Olwoch, J. Helmschrot, & N. Jürgens (Eds.), Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management in southern Africa. Göttingen & Windhoek: Klaus Hess Publishers.

Knox, N., Strohbach, B. J., & De Cauwer, V. (2018). Potential use of 3D-derived products generated from unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) imagery for monitoring forest degradation and woodland structure changes in the Namibian dry woodlands. In R. Revermann, K. M. Krewenka, U. Schmiedel, J. M. Olwoch, J. Helmschrot, & N. Jürgens (Eds.), Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management in southern Africa (pp. 378–379). Göttingen & Windhoek: Klaus Hess Publishers.

Strohbach, B. J. (2018). Making more of vegetation classification results: A Livestock Farming Suitability Index as tool for Land-Use Planning in Namibia. Phytocoenologia, 48(1), 7–22. https://doi.org/10.1127/phyto/2017/0182

More information is available via my ResearchGate profile, as well as the following web sites: http://www.biota-africa.org/, http://www.sasscalobservationnet.org/ and http://www.southernafricanplants.net/

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