Date of Award

2017

Document Type

Open Access Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Forestry (MS)

Administrative Home Department

School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science

Advisor 1

Audrey L. Mayer

Committee Member 1

Molly A. Cavaleri

Committee Member 2

Christopher R. Webster

Abstract

Crop losses in home gardens greatly impact the wellbeing of rural West African families. Herbivory by migratory or local livestock represents a significant source of crop loss. Live-fencing gardens with thorny hedges is a low-cost and sustainable strategy for reducing losses due to herbivory. However, guidance on the establishment of thorny hedges is inconsistent, poorly publicized, and often anecdotal. Therefore, this study evaluated the effects of three early pruning treatments on near-ground branch density of four thorny species: Vachellia nilotica, Senegalia laeta, Senegalia mellifera, and Prosopis juliflora. Physical measurements and photographic data indicated that after one growing season, V. nilotica was a superior thorny hedge species with significantly higher values in all metrics, while P. juliflora performed poorly in all metrics. Pruning treatments did not increase branch density compared to control treatments, suggesting that selection of hedge species may be more important than the pruning regimen for establishing thorny live-fences.