Impacts of grazing and climate variability on high-elevation ecosystems

Impacts of grazing and climate variability on high-elevation ecosystems

Tropical high altitude ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to the combined effects of land degradation and climate change. Mountain ecosystems globally have been extensively altered through deforestation, burning, and grazing of livestock.  We are testing how native grasslands respond to reduced grazing pressure and how these responses vary across an altitudinal gradient.

Differentiating climatic and anthropogenic alpine land cover change drivers over the past forty years in the Cordillera Blanca, Peru

Differentiating climatic and anthropogenic alpine land cover change drivers over the past forty years in the Cordillera Blanca, Peru

This project examines land cover/land use changes for the past forty years in Huascaran National Park and the adjacent communal areas.  There is a wealth of satellite imagery available for the Cordillera Blanca, but it needs to be verified on the ground.  We visit multiple valleys and peaks to collect information on the surface characteristics including slope, aspect, soils, disturbances, fire evidence, grazing impacts, insect damage, vegetation species, vegetation health, and other vegetation information.  

Water quality during rapid glacier loss

Water quality during rapid glacier loss

Water is an increasingly valuable and scarce resource due to global population growth, local anthropogenic activity and climate change.  Many populations that rely on threatened water sources are at high risk of their supply being reduced both in quality and quantity.  In the Ancash region of Peru, a large percentage of the population relies on water coming directly from the Cordillera Blanca mountain range, which is home to the highest density of tropical glaciers globally.