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1.  Diverging Responses of Tropical Andean Biomes under Future Climate Conditions 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e63634.
Observations and projections for mountain regions show a strong tendency towards upslope displacement of their biomes under future climate conditions. Because of their climatic and topographic heterogeneity, a more complex response is expected for biodiversity hotspots such as tropical mountain regions. This study analyzes potential changes in the distribution of biomes in the Tropical Andes and identifies target areas for conservation. Biome distribution models were developed using logistic regressions. These models were then coupled to an ensemble of 8 global climate models to project future distribution of the Andean biomes and their uncertainties. We analysed projected changes in extent and elevational range and identified regions most prone to change. Our results show a heterogeneous response to climate change. Although the wetter biomes exhibit an upslope displacement of both the upper and the lower boundaries as expected, most dry biomes tend to show downslope expansion. Despite important losses being projected for several biomes, projections suggest that between 74.8% and 83.1% of the current total Tropical Andes will remain stable, depending on the emission scenario and time horizon. Between 3.3% and 7.6% of the study area is projected to change, mostly towards an increase in vertical structure. For the remaining area (13.1%–17.4%), there is no agreement between model projections. These results challenge the common believe that climate change will lead to an upslope displacement of biome boundaries in mountain regions. Instead, our models project diverging responses, including downslope expansion and large areas projected to remain stable. Lastly, a significant part of the area expected to change is already affected by land use changes, which has important implications for management. This, and the inclusion of a comprehensive uncertainty analysis, will help to inform conservation strategies in the Tropical Andes, and to guide similar assessments for other tropical mountains.
PMCID: PMC3646809  PMID: 23667651
2.  Plant and animal endemism in the eastern Andean slope: challenges to conservation 
BMC Ecology  2012;12:1.
The Andes-Amazon basin of Peru and Bolivia is one of the most data-poor, biologically rich, and rapidly changing areas of the world. Conservation scientists agree that this area hosts extremely high endemism, perhaps the highest in the world, yet we know little about the geographic distributions of these species and ecosystems within country boundaries. To address this need, we have developed conservation data on endemic biodiversity (~800 species of birds, mammals, amphibians, and plants) and terrestrial ecological systems (~90; groups of vegetation communities resulting from the action of ecological processes, substrates, and/or environmental gradients) with which we conduct a fine scale conservation prioritization across the Amazon watershed of Peru and Bolivia. We modelled the geographic distributions of 435 endemic plants and all 347 endemic vertebrate species, from existing museum and herbaria specimens at a regional conservation practitioner's scale (1:250,000-1:1,000,000), based on the best available tools and geographic data. We mapped ecological systems, endemic species concentrations, and irreplaceable areas with respect to national level protected areas.
We found that sizes of endemic species distributions ranged widely (< 20 km2 to > 200,000 km2) across the study area. Bird and mammal endemic species richness was greatest within a narrow 2500-3000 m elevation band along the length of the Andes Mountains. Endemic amphibian richness was highest at 1000-1500 m elevation and concentrated in the southern half of the study area. Geographical distribution of plant endemism was highly taxon-dependent. Irreplaceable areas, defined as locations with the highest number of species with narrow ranges, overlapped slightly with areas of high endemism, yet generally exhibited unique patterns across the study area by species group. We found that many endemic species and ecological systems are lacking national-level protection; a third of endemic species have distributions completely outside of national protected areas. Protected areas cover only 20% of areas of high endemism and 20% of irreplaceable areas. Almost 40% of the 91 ecological systems are in serious need of protection (= < 2% of their ranges protected).
We identify for the first time, areas of high endemic species concentrations and high irreplaceability that have only been roughly indicated in the past at the continental scale. We conclude that new complementary protected areas are needed to safeguard these endemics and ecosystems. An expansion in protected areas will be challenged by geographically isolated micro-endemics, varied endemic patterns among taxa, increasing deforestation, resource extraction, and changes in climate. Relying on pre-existing collections, publically accessible datasets and tools, this working framework is exportable to other regions plagued by incomplete conservation data.
PMCID: PMC3311091  PMID: 22284854
Andes-Amazon; conservation planning; ecological systems; endemic species richness; irreplaceability; Latin America

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