LAII Lecture Series: Raramuri Criollo Cattle and Climate Change in the Desert Southwest

Dr. Andrés Cibils, Department of Animal and Range Sciences, New Mexico State University

Friday, March 22, 2019 | 12:00 pm - 01:00 pm

Latin American and Iberian Institute

801 Yale Blvd NE (campus building #165)


Join the LAII for a presentation with Dr. Andrés Cibils, Professor of Rangeland Science in the Department of Animal and Range Sciences at New Mexico State University, as he discusses climate change in the desert of the southwest.

The livelihood of rural populations along the US-Mexico border in the desert Southwest is tightly linked to cattle ranching. Changing climate is posing new challenges to ranchers across the region. At the Chihuahuan Desert Rangeland Research Center we have found that in southern New Mexico, summers are becoming increasingly hotter, annual rainfall is increasingly variable, and the onset of summer rains is occurring later in the year. Over the past 50 years, desert grass production at our research site has declined by 38%. New strategies are needed to meet these unprecedented challenges. A growing number of ranchers on both sides of the border are beginning to raise desert-friendly cattle breeds that are able to cope with more variable forage conditions and hotter temperatures. One of such breeds is the Raramuri Criollo from the Copper Canyon in Chihuahua, Mexico. This cattle biotype --which descends from Iberian cattle introduced by Spanish settlers approximately 500 years ago-- has been maintained with minimal crossbreeding by the Tarahumara people in the Sierras of the same name. It is believed that these animals are better able to cope with a hotter and more variable environment while inflicting a lower environmental footprint on desert rangelands. Similar to what is occurring in the Southwest desert ranchers and researchers in other Latin American countries are beginning to raise local Criollo cattle biotypes in their search for strategies to adapt to changing climates. My talk will provide an overview of ongoing Criollo research in New Mexico (USA), Chihuahua (Mexico), and La Rioja (Argentina).

Cibils holds a BS in Animal Science from the Universidad Nacional de Lomas de Zamora, in Argentina, and an MS and PhD in Rangeland Ecosystem Science from Colorado State University. At New Mexico State University, he teaches rangeland management and ecology courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels. His research focuses primarily on ruminant/plant interactions in arid and semiarid environments. A secondary focus of his research involves studying the role of livestock in supporting the livelihoods of smallholder agro-pastoralists in West Africa and New Mexico. Cibils and his graduate students have co-authored over 130 scholarly papers including refereed journal articles, book chapters, and conference proceedings papers.


This event is free and open to the public.


Latin American & Iberian Institute