Welcome to my webpage!
Curriculum vitae (click here)

March 17, 2005

Miami, USA

Hello dear visitor,Vegetation of Ecuador according to Holdridge classification

    Let's begin geographically. A map of Ecuador (South America), my home country, is shown to the right. The Galapagos Islands are not shown. The map shows the kinds of vegetation we historically had (Cañadas 1983), according to the Holdridge classification. Green tones represent wet regions, while red/yellow tones represent dry regions. The highest mountain in the ecuadorian Andes is Chimborazo (6,300 m) near the city of Riobamba. There is a more recent map (Sierra 1999) with an updated classification of the vegetation if you are further interested.

    I got involved with the world of plants in my senior year of college (1995-1996), when I worked as a volunteer in the Herbarium QCA (Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador) . In that internship, I helped to mount, catalog, and preserve specimens for the herbarium collection, which has now more than 200,000 specimens. This experience helped me realize how diverse and imperiled our native Ecuadorian flora is (~17,000 species, visit mobot.mobot.org/W3T/Search/cvpe.html ). In the next five years, I became more formally involved in various projects and activities at the Herbarium, including my bachelor's thesis, and two major research projects.  What I learned from such experiences is summarized in the next three paragraphs.

    My B.S. thesis (1999) was entitled "Diversidad, análisis estructural y aspectos florísticos relevantes de las lianas en una parcela de bosque muy húmedo premontano, Amazonía Ecuatoriana". In a 0.5 ha of primary forest at 850 m altitude, I surveyed 1085 individuals representing over 120 species of lianas (woody vines). As is typical of tropical forests, most of the species were in low abundance. This was the first study to assess the structure and diversity of a community of climbers in the area between the Ecuadorian Andes and the Amazonian lowlands. I found that the species richness of lianas at this altitude can be equal to or higher than in the lowlands, and that this area represents a transitional zone containing elements of both highland and lowland flora.  The project had funding from the European Union through the OMAERE Ethnobotanical Park. OMAERE dedicates its efforts to the conservation of native plant resources and the indigenous cultures that use them.

    At the beginning of 1998, I began to work in an international collaborative effort to assess the potential for sustainable extraction of non-timber plant products in northwestern Amazonia (Colombia, Ecuador and Perú). I co-authored (along with Manuel Juan Macía and Renato Valencia) two of the chapters in the book that resulted from this project (Duivenvoorden et al . 2001). I was the first author in the chapter "Patrones de diversidad, distribución y rareza de plantas leñosas en el Parque Nacional Yasuní y la Reserva Étnica Huaorani, Amazonía ecuatoriana", which described the diversity, habitat preference and patterns of rarity of woody plants in the Yasuní area (eastern Amazonian Ecuador). We found 6906 trees and lianas with DBH >=2.5 cm (1056 species) in 25 plots of 0.1 ha (20 x 50 m). This project gave me the opportunity to visit the Missouri Botanical Garden , where M. J. Macía and I spent 20 days identifying about 700 specimens out of the ~4000 specimens collected in total. As part of the collaboration, I  was also able to visit the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics at the University of Amsterdam. We also presented a poster in the XVI International Congress of Botany (St. Louis, Missouri, 1999); the poster was awarded the distinction as the best poster in the area of Economic Botany.

    Another project I was involved while working at the Herbarium QCA had to do with the endemic species of Ecuador (~25% of the native flora). During a year and a half (1999-2000), 42 botanists, mostly ecuadorian, compiled ecological and taxonomical information relevant to the conservation of the endemic species. The result was the publication of a "Red Book" of ecuadorian endemic plants (Valencia et al. 2000) which classified the species under the World Conservation Union (IUCN) guidelines for threat status. The information in the Red Book is now accessible through the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. I compiled information for 102 species in 27 different families.

    In August 2000, I began my graduate studies at the University of Miami with a Fulbright fellowship administered by LASPAU. Under Dr. Leo Sternberg 's guidance, I have broadened my vision of tropical plant biology to include an eco-physiological approach. For example, I have learned how stable isotope techniques can be used as a tool to study different processes in nature (e.g., carbon cycling, root distribution and dynamics, water uptake, nutrient cycling). On September 2003, I defended my M.S. thesis, recently published in the American Journal of Botany as "Rainfall exclusion in an eastern Amazonian forest alters soil water movement and depth of water uptake". This study was part of the Rainfall Exclusion Experiment in the Tapajós National Forest, state of Pará, Brazil. Co-authors of this publication are: Leonel da S.L. Sternberg (University of Miami), Marcelo Z. Moreira (Universidade de São Paulo), and Daniel C. Nepstad (The Woods Hole Research Center).

    I am now a Ph.D. candidate. The Ph.D. proposal is entitled: "Lianas as major agents of water and nutrient movement in tropical lowland rainforests". I plan to conduct this study at Yasuní National Park, Amazonian Ecuador. I will keep you informed as the study progresses!

Well, that's about it! Best wishes.
Hugo


Literature cited (for my publications, see Curriculum Vitae)

Cañadas, L. 1983. El Mapa Bioclimático y Ecológico del Ecuador. Banco Central del Ecuador. Quito, Ecuador.

Duivenvoorden, J.F., H. Balslev, J. Cavelier, C. Grández, H. Tuomisto & R. Valencia  (eds.). 2001. Evaluación de recursos vegetales no maderables en la Amazonía noroccidental. IBED, Universiteit van Amsterdam, Amsterdam. ISBN: 90-76894-02-7

Sierra, R. 1999. Vegetación Remanente del Ecuador Continental. Proyecto INEFAN/GEF y Wildlife Conservation Society. Quito, Ecuador.

Valencia, R., N. Pitman, S. León-Yánez & P.M. Jorgensen (eds.). 2000. Libro Rojo de las plantas endémicas del Ecuador. Herbario QCA, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador, Quito. ISBN: 9978-77-090-9

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Hugo G. Romero-Saltos, M.S.  
Graduate student

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Department of Biology - University of Miami
Coral Gables, Florida 33124-0421
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