National Academy of Sciences
National Academy of Engineering
Institute of Medicine
National Research Council
Development, Security, and Cooperation
Policy and Global Affairs
Home About DSC
Quick Links

FREE Reports     

Download free PDFs of
ALL Academy Reports

All reports available on the National Academies Press (NAP) website are now offered free of charge to web visitors.

Contact us

The National Academies
500 5th St NW - KWS 502
Washington, DC 20001

Tel: (202) 334-2800
Fax: (202) 334-2139


Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER) SCIENCE
Cycle 2 (2012 Deadline)

Ecosystem response to climate change in the mountain wetlands

PI:  Juan Castaño (Universidad Tecnológica de Pereira)
U.S. Partner: Jay Martin (The Ohio State University)
Project Dates: August 2013 to July 2015
Since 2008, Colombia has experienced three extreme climate events that have resulted in droughts and flooding during which more than 400 human lives were lost. During these events, 15 percent of the country was inundated and more than $6 billion in economic losses were sustained. While such national and international impacts of climate change are frequently noted and predicted by large-scale models, the local communities that suffer greatly from these disasters and are ultimately responsible for human welfare lack tools to predict and respond to changes in climate. To better prepare local communities to predict climate impacts and develop responses, this project will develop an early alert system to forecast changes in the ecosystem services of water regulation and biodiversity in the Quebrada Dali watershed. This upstream watershed, located in the central Andes of Colombia, affects agricultural and urban downstream areas that have already realized climate impacts and can greatly benefit from tools to predict further impacts and plan proper responses to climate changes.

ColombiaPicture 1 Lisbran, located within the Quebrada Dali Watershed, is where the instrumentation will be located. (Photo courtesy Dr. Castano).

ColombiaPicture 2 The research team takes a break from its fieldwork (Photo courtesy Dr. Castano).

The long-term goal is to develop a sustainable local ecosystem study site to monitor and model short- and long-term effects of climate change on the ecosystem services provided by Quebrada Dali watershed. The early warning system to be built will be based on permanent monitoring and adaptive modeling of the effect of climate change on the ecosystem services of water regulation in a watershed in the central Andes and its influence on water supply systems. A critical need for such a system at a local level is evidenced by the fact that many of the prediction models used to determine the effects of climate change on environmental services and society are based on global scale climate data, but they omit biophysical and social influences that determine local responses. As one of the most vulnerable countries to impacts of climate change, Colombia is an excellent location to examine human adaptation to impacts such as severe floods and drought.

Summary of Recent Activities
As of January 2015, all equipment for water regulation and biodiversity monitoring in the Quebrada Dalí watershed has been installed, including time lapse and trap cameras, data loggers, rain gauges, and spotting scopes. Dr. Castaño has defined an 800-meter path within the study site where he and his team are conducting biodiversity surveys focused on birds, wetland plants, aquatic microinvertebrates, and frogs. They are also continuing their work on calibrating hydrological models and correlating the effects of climate variables on observed water flow in the area. Besides the research activities, educational and outreach efforts were a particular focus in the last quarter of 2014. With funding provided by their partner organization, Aguas y Aguas de Pereira, the team held an educational workshop at their study site on November 22 for children from two different scout groups, and on December 18 they organized a stakeholders workshop with officials from Aguas y Aguas.

In mid-January PhD student Marcela Uribe arrived in Naples, Florida for a two-month stay as a visiting scholar at the Everglades Wetland Research Park at the Florida Gulf Coast University. She is working with her host, Research Park Director Dr. William J. Mitsch, and his staff and students on wetland research in mangroves, freshwater marshes, and forested swamps in southwest Florida. Their studies are focused on carbon sequestration, methane emissions, and stormwater water quality improvement in these wetlands. Meanwhile, back in Colombia Dr. Castaño will be making recruiting visits in January and February 2015 to the universities of Quindio and Santa Rosa to recruit undergraduate students to work at his study site. In February he is also beginning a monthly series of educational workshops at the study site for teachers and students from the local schools. In the late spring, he and two colleagues (one from the local water supply company and one from the environmental protection agency) plan to visit Ohio State and, accompanied by U.S. partner Jay Martin, visit some ecosystems study sites along the East Coast and in the Midwest.
Back to PEER Cycle 2 Grant Recipients