Mark Moritz
Assistant Professor

Contact Information

Dr. Mark Moritz
Department of Anthropology
The Ohio State University
4058 Smith Laboratory
174 W. 18th Ave.
Columbus, OH 43210
614.247.7426 (tel)
614.292-4155 (fax)

Curriculum Vitae (pdf)

In Depth Website


My research focuses on the transformation of African pastoral systems. I have investigated how pastoralists in have adapted to changing ecological, political and institutional conditions that affect their lives and livelihoods. I have been conducting research with pastoralists in the Far North Region of Cameroon since 1993. The long-term research has resulted in strong collaborations with local researchers, which has allowed me to develop new interdisciplinary research projects with colleagues at the Ohio State University. All my research projects examine pastoral systems within the analytical framework of coupled human and natural systems using a regional approach that situates the Far North Region within the larger Chad Basin.


n 2008 I started an interdisciplinary study of complex social-ecological systems that is funded by the National Geographic Society and a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from the Cultural Anthropology and the Geography and Regional Science Programs at the National Science Foundation. Specifically, the study examines how mobile pastoralists in the Logone floodplain in the Far North Region of Cameroon coordinate their movements to avoid conflict and overgrazing in a land tenure system that is commonly described as open access, a situation generally regarded as leading to a tragedy of the commons. The hypothesis is that this management system is best understood as a case of emerging complexity, in which individual decision-making, coordination of movements among pastoralists, and participation in an information sharing network result in the emergence of a complex adaptive system in which access to and use of grazing resources is managed. The hypothesis is being tested in an interdisciplinary study of pastoral mobility that integrates spatial and ethnographic analyses as well as agent-based models Understanding how these emergent systems work is critical for the management of rangelands across West Africa, most of which have some form of open access.

I am a founding co-organizer of the Disease Ecology and Computer Modeling Laboratory (DECML) with Rebecca Garabed (Preventive Veterinary Medicine), Ningchuan Xiao (Geography), and Song Liang (Environmental Health Sciences). We have started a project that examines the epidemiology of infectious diseases in the ecological context of networks of host movements. Specifically, the goal is to understand the transmission and maintenance of Foot and Mouth Disease Viruses (FMDV) in networks of livestock movements in the Far North Region of Cameroon. Because FMD is endemic and vaccinations are not used, the region provides an unprecedented opportunity to examine how different networks of livestock movements affect disease epidemiology. Data on disease incidence and prevalence will be collected for four years in overlapping networks of livestock movement including daily foraging, annual transhumance, regional markets, and transboundary trade. The data will be used to develop coupled models including a Susceptible-Infected-Recovered (SIR) model of infections within herds, an agent-based model of movement and connectivity between herds within and across networks, and molecular modeling to provide additional data and to validate the other models. We received funding from the Ecology of Infectious Diseases (EID) program at the National Science Foundation for this project and are developing projects that examine the ecology of other infectious diseases, including cholera.

Together with colleagues at OSU I resubmitted a proposal to the Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems (CNH) program at NSF that aims to understand regime shifts in African floodplains. African floodplains are excellent examples of coupled human-natural systems (CHANS), but they have not been modeled as coupled systems. Instead studies have focused either on the hydrological, ecological, or social system and have taken the couplings as a constant rather than as a dynamic system. Our project will examine the dynamic couplings that are endogenous to social, ecological and hydrological systems in the Logone Floodplain in an integrated model. In particular, we will focus on the impact of human activities and climate change on the hydrology of the floodplain to understand the nature of regime shifts in African floodplains. The project brings together a team of researchers from a broad range of disciplines and will use a transdisciplinary approach to investigate coupled human and natural systems using a combination of field research, remote sensing analysis, and modeling.

Teaching Schedule

Autumn 2013

2202H- Honors Peoples and Cultures: Intro to Cultural Anthropology
3525-History of anthropological theory

Spring 2014

5620 -  Hunters and Gatherers
8891.05 - Study Design and Data Analysis


Current Grad Students

Christopher Brown

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