The Ongoing Collapse of Antisana Ecological Reserve Large-Bodied Avian Community

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The 120,000 ha Antisana Ecological Reserve created in 1993, by the Ecuadorian government through pressure from Fundación Antisana, to protect the unique flora and fauna surrounding the Volcano Antisana continues to evolve. In 1998, the La Mica dam was built to increase the capacity of Laguna La Mica and provide water for the Mica-Quito Sur Project. This project has been heralded as a good example of cooperation between the Ecuadorian government, a conservation NGO, and a water and sewerage company (EMAAP-Q) to protect a watershed, its fauna and flora and provide freshwater for Quito Sur. However, many conservationists have expressed concern over population decreases recently observed and tabulated by eBird among condor, ibis, lapwing and caracara. The removal of cattle and sheep from the recently acquired Hacienda Antisana 4400 ha lot by EMAAP-Q in 2010 and intensified efforts at fire-suppression across the Reserve triggered a tropic cascade. Cattle and sheep dung and their carcasses once contributed significant nutrients to the landscape while the diversity and number of paramo fire-successional patches supported higher biodiversity. I recommend the immediate re-introduction of an herbivore mega fauna (cattle and sheep) into the reserve at a population density compatible with maintaining: (1) the reserve's diversity of plant flora, (2) the open range of the reserve, (3) higher inputs of nutrient-rich dung, and (4) forage (i.e., carcasses) for the condor population. I also recommend an immediate reduction in fire-suppression to once more establish a rich spatial mosaic of paramo successional patches.


Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting (AAG)


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