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The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences

Research project: The effects of climate change on the distribution, biodiversity and ecosystem services of tropical montane forests

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This project aims to assess the effects of projected climate change scenarios on tropical montane forests.

Tropical montane forests are an ecosystem type distributed on mountain slopes located within the global tropical belt (23.5° N and S). They are characterised by constant immersion in fog, which favours the presence of an abundant epiphytic community rich in biodiversity, and provide a multitude of ecosystem services. Their geographic and climatic situation, however, result in a naturally patchy distribution and high sensitivity to environmental changes, in particular climate change.

This project aims to assess their current global status, including extent, distribution and state of conservation, which will serve as a baseline for studying the effects that climate change will have on this ecosystem type. Climate change projections will be used to forecast how these ecosystems might respond to rising temperatures and shifting hydrological regimes at a global scale, and to further refine these estimations Mexican tropical montane forests will be used as a case study.

An Ecological Niche Modelling approach will be used to project how greenhouse gas emission scenarios might influence the distribution of Mexican tropical montane tree species, a proxy for the diverse tropical montane communities as a whole. To account for other components of these ecosystems, an Ecological Networks approach will be applied to evaluate how shifting environmental conditions might alter the interactions between species that constitute a particular Mexican tropical montane forest community.

Image: Tropical montane forest. Biosphere Reserve of Tehuacán-Cuicatlán, Mexico.

Tehuacan Cuicatlan, Mexico

Postgraduate student: Erik Omar Mata Guel
Supervisors: Dr Kelvin Peh, Dr Rebecca Morris, Dr Orly Razgour, Dr Patrick Osborne

Funding provider: CONACyT
Funding dates: 09/2019 to 09/2022

Related research groups

Ecology and Evolution
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