Diffusion of Eurasian guarding dogs into American agriculture : an alternative method of predator control Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/44558h399

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  • The diffusion of livestock guarding dogs into American agriculture provides an example of a developed nation adopting a peasant husbandry practice. Guarding dogs, associated with transhumant husbandry, have been used to protect sheep and other livestock from predators in Eurasia for 2000 years. However, they were virtually unknown by Anglo-American agriculturalists until the late 1970's. Guarding dogs were originally introduced to America's Southwest by Spanish settlers in the 1500's. The tradition disappeared after Anglo-Americans came to dominate the sheep industry. The re-introduction of guarding dogs came about as the result of new scientific understanding in wildlife management and policy changes that required a search for alternative methods of predator control. Significant variables affecting the location and rate of diffusion included the strain of dog, flock size, and location of pilot projects. Guarding dogs worked equally well across the major sheep producing regions of the United States after adjusting for flock size and strain. Suitable dogs were found within all strains, although statistical differences in performance were found between strains. Differences in performance between flock sizes, although statistically significant, should not impair the long-term prospects for adoption. By 1987, the total number of adopters across the United States was unknown, but it was probably less than 10 percent of all growers. Results of this study suggest diffusion will be greatest from areas where agents are actively promoting their use, from areas where concentrations of dogs currently exist, from areas where quality dogs are available, and on farms where flock size is less than 1000 sheep. Analyzing time to failure of adopters provides a technique for tracking the long-term adoption of agriculturalists. Normally, rates of diffusion are calculated by estimating the number of adopters divided by the population of potential adopters at specified time intervals. This study suggests that the population of adopters counted in sequential intervals may not consist of the same individuals because many discontinue using the innovation. In addition, survivorship (time to failure) analysis showed rate of adoption by farmers was related to performance of the innovation. Thus, an increase in the percentage of adopters does not necessarily imply an increase in the number of adopters.
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