Final Assignment

Hello everyone, my name is Aiden Chan and I am a fourth year general biology major born in the year of the horse. I am Chinese, and I was raised under the assumption that Horse and Dragon are both symbols of Yang. Today, I am choosing to talk about how my animal relates to climate change. My major is pretty ecology focused, but I haven't yet had the chance to explore land-based effects of climate change, only marine ones. So, diving into equine territory was rather new to me. I came across the negative effects that ranches can have on the environment, yet most sources seemed to focus on cattle ranching. I found some related to horse keeping, so I would like to explore how horse keeping and ranches usually have a negative effect on the environment. Later on, I will also talk about some solutions to mitigate issues brought on by this human cultivation practice.

Traditional ranches are a big part of Americana culture, with many people picturing large open pastures with many cows and horses that graze on food. But behind these beautiful landscapes often lies many ecological problems. Trees are cut down to create these open spaces, and is the leading cause of deforestation especially in the Amazon rainforest. Culturing grass instead of the natural diversity is also bad for biodiversity, leading to a reduction of species in the area. Animal waste from ranches, totaling up to 3.9 million tons in the US per year is also a large problem. There can be parasites in this waste, leading to typical fertilization efforts actually limiting the growth of grass in the area.

Area deforested for ranch :(

One way to prevent horses from trampling plants everywhere is to create what is known as a sacrifice area. This also helps prevent horses from eating all the plants in the pasture. It functions much like a pen, but on a higher ground, helping to keep the horses separated from other species, as well as their waste products, thereby protecting the local environment. 

Constructing a Sacrifice Area for Horse Operations | Northern Virginia Soil  and Water Conservation District

Pictured above is a sacrifice area for horses.

Grasses can also use up a lot of water, so effective watering strategies are also important. Watering in the evening helps prevent too much water from being used. And on the topic of plants, adding native species which are adapted to the climate of the local terrain can help support wildlife in the area. A monoculture can be easily prone to diseases, and few healthy ecosystems have only one type of plant.


Lots of native species here!

Finally, here is a video on environmentally friendly horse-keeping!


Hox Zodiac: