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Doctoral thesis, 2016

Local baseline knowledge for conservation and restoration of degraded ecosystems in Ecuador

Mariscal, Ana;


Deforestation and land-use changes are a major threats to native ecosystem in many tropical countries, including Ecuador– one of the biodiversity hotspots in the world. In tropical Andean countries, natural ecosystems change over small spatial scales. Thus, conservation and restoration initiatives, strongly require ecological baseline information about local ecosystems history, spatial distribution, integrity, trophic interactions, successional dynamics, home range, health and as well as considering the local ethobiogical and ethnoecological knowledge. The present work was done in order to generate initial ecological base-line information in three locals and one sub-regional landscape. The major findings are: (1) ‘Forest Gap Phase Dynamic Reference Method’ inside three successional stages in old grow reference forest and secondary forest regrowth, was able to generate baseline information about the ecosystem structure, composition and biomass in a local Choco-Darien rainforest (NW Ecuador); (2) Traditional Ecological Knowledge showed good synergy with ecological science-based approaches (e.g. regeneration survey in forest gaps) to identify native tree species useful for human beings and wildlife; (3) Inter-crown pixel information from hyperspatial aerial imagery enabled identification of 54% of families, 53% of genera and 56% of species sampled from the ground with a high predictive success of primary and secondary forest indicators species; (4) The home range of endemic brown-headed spider monkeys (Ateles fusciceps) was evaluated in the NW of Ecuador, and it was found that this species is in critical danger of extinction, due high levels of hunting and habitat loss specially outside protected areas; (5) anthropogenic disturbances, mainly grazing, in an Andean páramo ecosystem equally affected the species composition of the grassland and bushland communities with marked changes in their soil properties. Overall, these and other methods and results can be used to generate “Local ecosystem base line information”, and initiate the idea of establishing a “Local ecosystem health centre” in each village, coordinated by natural and social science researchers, technicians and local population members, with a solid ecological background, who will be responsible to maintain available update information, coordinate or facilitate conservation and restoration efforts, as the establishment of ecological corridors, to reconnect local and sub regional fragmented ecosystems.


Referential ecosystems; Ethno-ecology; Ecosystem health center; Ecuador

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae

2016, number: 2016:69
ISBN: 978-91-576-8640-4, eISBN: 978-91-576-8641-1
Publisher: Southern Swedish Forest Research Centre, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Authors' information

Mariscal, Ana
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Southern Swedish Forest Research Centre

Associated SLU-program

Future Forests (until Jan 2017)
SLU Future Forests

UKÄ Subject classification

Forest Science
Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

URI (permanent link to this page)