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Effects of Climate Change on Key Ecosystem Services provided by the Ecuadorian Páramo Ecosystems

Beltran, Karla (2018) Effects of Climate Change on Key Ecosystem Services provided by the Ecuadorian Páramo Ecosystems. PhD thesis, University of York.

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The Ecuadorian páramo ecosystems play an important role in providing the local population with drinking water, irrigation, hydropower generation, carbon storage, and agricultural production. In Ecuador, páramo vegetation has suffered significant degradation and loss due to land use change. This has had a major impact on the capability of the ecosystems to resist or adapt to external pressures such as climate change. This research aims to understand the effects of climate change on the Ecuadorian páramo ecosystems and the potential consequences on the ecosystem services they provide. This study applies state-of-the-art techniques to evaluate: a) the impact of climate change on the climatic niche distribution of the páramo ecosystems based on future greenhouse gas concentration scenarios; b) the amount of carbon stored in both soil and vegetation for key types of páramo ecosystems; and c) the future exposure of the Ecuadorian páramos to land use pressures, considering climate as a determining factor for increases or decreases in the farming frontier. The research show that in 30 (2050) to 50 (2070) years, páramo ecosystems with isolated or restricted distribution could suffer significant niche contraction (>60%) or niche extinction (100%), while ecosystems with a broad distribution seem less vulnerable (<60%). The carbon (C) estimates show that C in soils could vary from 87.7 to 278.9 ton C/ha, while in vegetation could range from 5.3 to 8.9 ton C/ha in grassland and shrubland vegetation, and 96.3±32.4 ton C/ha in forest. Soil C stock is influenced by altitude and climatic conditions such as precipitation and temperature. The farming frontier could increase in 23% (2050) to 35% (2070) towards and within the páramo areas, most of them occurring in areas without protection (16%-21%). This study reveals considerable challenges for the future of the Ecuadorian páramo, highlighting the need to implement adaptation strategies in these natural areas.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > Environment (York)
Depositing User: Miss Karla Beltran
Date Deposited: 04 Jun 2019 13:24
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2019 13:24
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/23567

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