Towards effective management of modified ecosystems in Galapagos

Research output: ResearchDoctoral Thesis

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[Truncated] The effective management of modified ecosystems is a topic of global significance that addresses growing concern for the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services caused by human activities such as land clearing, species introductions and carbon dioxide emissions. Both empirical ecological information and conceptual frameworks are necessary for making decisions regarding the management and restoration of modified ecosystems with limited resources. This PhD research addresses this need. It was focused on the Galapagos Islands, where the humid highlands of the inhabited islands provide a case study of ecosystems changed by human activities. The research is presented in three main themes: (1) the research and management of plant invasions— chapter 2; (2) climate change — chapters 3 and 4; and (3) historical and contemporary vegetation, processes of ecosystem change, and the extent of ecosystem modification — chapters 5, 6 and 7, which encompass the core of the PhD.
A review of the research and management of plant invasions in Galapagos, one of the most prevalent contemporary ecosystem change agents, indicated that plant invasions are continuing and are changing ecosystems (chapter 2). It advocated a system for prioritizing sites (rather than species) for management in the modified highlands, suggested the community needs to be more involved in invasive plant management, and highlighted that improved information transfer between researchers and managers / practitioners could help achieve more effective management outcomes.
Galapagos rainfall and temperature climate data were used to characterize the two seasons and two main climatic zones as a framework and baseline for predicting potential future changes (chapter 3). This illustrated that annual rainfall during the hot season (January – May) is variable from less than 100 mm up to nearly 2,000 mm in both the dry lowlands and humid highlands. Precipitation during the cool season (June – December) mainly affects the humid highlands with consistent precipitation of around 500 mm per year. Known responses of organisms to extreme climate events were documented using a literature review and expert workshop (chapter 4). These were used as a proxy for potential biodiversity patterns in response to climate change.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
StateUnpublished - Dec 2014


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