Cycle 1 (2011 Deadline)
Modeling the Tonle Sap ecosystem under global change
PI: Veasna Kum, Conservation International Cambodia
US Partner: John Sabo, Arizona State University
Project Dates: May 2012 - July 2014
This project is headed by a young Cambodian researcher who has just completed his PhD and a relatively new Cambodian research institute working in partnership with Conservation International-Cambodia. The focus of the project is modeling the ecosystem of the Tonle Sap lake under climate change. The PI has worked previously on modeling the productivity of the Tonle Sap under global change, including alteration of flows due to upstream dam construction. The purpose of this project is to expand this modeling to include climate change impacts on the ecosystem. Stable isotope analysis will be used to determine “who eats whom” in the Tonle Sap foodweb.
The Tonle Sap ecosystem feeds millions of people in Cambodia and is an essential source of employment and food security in the region. However, very little is known about its functioning, and there is a critical need to increase knowledge of the system and its responses to climate change. The project will examine how phosphorus loading may change with climate change and how foodweb relationships in different parts of the lake may be impacted by climate change. This understanding will in turn help inform understanding of the sustainable production of the fisheries in the lake and management responses to upstream diversion and climate change. The research is grounded in a data collection effort that is among the first to gather systematic, reliable data on productivity and foodweb function in the lake.
Summary of Recent Activities
Hydrological modeling was the primary focus of activity on the project during the fall of 2012. Dr. Kum and his partners developed, tested, and calibrated the dynamic structure of a hydrological mass balance model for Tonle Sap Lake. This model will be combined with their limnological model to help generate an integrated analysis of nutrient dynamics under various climate change scenarios. Although the modeling work is proceeding on schedule, the field work portion of the project has been delayed and is now expected to begin in January 2013. Fortunately, the delay allowed time for Dr. Kum to identify and align with other new partners, including from the University of Washington, the Cambodian Inland Fisheries Research and Development Institute, and the Scientific Capacity Development Initiative. He is working with these organizations in order to structure his field work under PEER Science in a way that best leverages their data collection efforts. In the first quarter of 2013, Dr. Kum and his collaborators expect to make further refinements in their model of the nutrient dynamics of Tonle Sap Lake and then begin calibrating it against field data. A new software package is being purchased to help in this work.
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