Reconstruction and modelling of late Quaternary and modern landscape dynamics (vegetation, biodiversity, climate, fire, land use) in the Podocarpus National Park and neighbouring regions in Ecuador;

Project duration 2007-2010

Past environmental changes from different key areas will be explored to reconstruct past landscape dynamics in the Podocarpus National Park region. Available and new reconstructions as well as modern landscape data (vegetation, climate, land use) will be used to model past vegetation, biodiversity, climate, fire and land use dynamics in a 3-dimensional (3-D) landscape model connecting biotic and abiotic components. This innovative PODOcarpus National Park 3-D LANDscape model (PODOLAND) will integrate and synthesise local data on past and modern landscape dynamics to a regional scale. The project will provide a 3-D landscape model for different time slides to understand: (1) local and regional ecosystem and climate dynamics in a larger context, (2) ecosystem dynamics and their reaction on environmental changes, (3) connections and disjunctions of different ecosystems (Páramos, mountain rainforests and dry forests) and their role for the development of the extraordinary high biodiversity hot spot in Ecuador and (4) future vegetation and climate dynamics within the Global Change problematic. This model will be a useful tool for governmental and non-governmental agencies to understand ecosystem dynamics and to identify key areas for restoration to maintain the high biodiversity in the northern Andes hot spot. PODOLAND will be the basis for the 3-D visualisation of the model region.
This investigation will be carried out as subproject A1.2 of the DFG Research Unit 816 „Biodiversity and Sustainable Management of a Megadiverse Mountain Ecosystem in Southern Ecuador” ( and will receive scientific data from other subprojects of the Research Unit. Likewise the project will provide useable data and results for other projects.

Project management:
Prof. Dr. Hermann Behling

Scientific co-workers:
Corinna Brunschön
Fernando Rodriguez

Ecuador, Andes, vegetation history, climate dynamics, pollen analysis, terrain model