Late Quaternary vegetation, climate and fire dynamics in Podocarpus National Park, south-eastern Ecuador

Our studies will provide important background information to understand the stability and dynamic of modern Mountain Rainforest and Paramo ecosystems including its biodiversity for management and conservation in southeastern Ecuador.
In order to understand the landscape history of the Podocarpus National Park region in the southeastern Ecuadorian Andes, we started in March 2005 our first field campaign to explore and core sediment archives. These studies are undertaken within the research group “Tropical Mountain Rainforest” of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) which is active since 2000 in southeastern Ecuadorian Andes. We collected several sediment cores form lakes, peat bogs and soils, within the Podocarpus National Park region, including the research area of Estacion Cientifica San Francisco (ECSF), for our palaeoecological studies. We installed also about 40 pollen traps to collect the modern pollen rain on an elevational gradient between 2100 to 3200 m by 50 m steps in the research area of ECSF. Most of the sediment cores from lakes, peat bogs and soils are Ams-Radiocarbon dated.
Within the framework of the DFG research group following important research questions and aims will be addressed: How was the vegetation development and dynamic as well as the climate dynamic in the Podocarpus National Park region since the late Pleistocene? Is it possible to separate drier and wetter periods? Since when and how intensive fires occurred in the Podocarpus National Park region? Were fires natural or of anthropogenic origin? Since when is Podocarpus National Park region under human influence and how strong was the human impact?

Project management:
Prof. Dr. Hermann Behling

Scientific co-worker:
Holger Niemann (PhD student)

Ecuador, vegetation history, climate dynamics, andes, pollen analysis, archeobotany