Primary Productivity Trends of High-Altitude Cushion Bogs (Bofedales) in Northern Chile, 2001-2013

Authors: Paul Marr*, Shippensburg University, Claire A. Jantz, Shippensburg University
Topics: Coupled Human and Natural Systems, Indigenous Peoples, Latin America
Keywords: Chile, altiplano, wetlands, primary productivity, transhumance, Aymara, indigenous
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Marshall North, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Peat forming wetlands (bofedales) of the northern Chilean Altiplano are actively managed by indigenous Aymaran agro-pastoralists, who depend on this ecosystem to provide camelid pasture and irrigation for quinoa farming. The importance of bofedales for local populations and downstream water users is highlighted by the work of CorporaciĆ³n Norte Grande (CNG), a Chilean non-profit that launched a collaborative wetland restoration and maintenance program in 2013. To inform community-driven wetland restoration planning and monitoring, this research attempts to quantify the level and manner that traditional Aymaran management practices impact these wetlands. We hypothesized that increased human activity will positively influence primary productivity and will result in decreases annual productivity variation. Monthly MODIS EVI images from 2001-2013 were obtained and primary productivity data for 50 bofedal sample points were compiled. These data were decomposed and the trend component extracted and averaged over the study period. An index was developed that captured the level of human activity at each bofedal sample site. There was a significant positive partial correlation between human activity and the average bofedal primary productivity trend (rho = 0.68, p < 0.001) when controlling for watershed and bofedal size, stream order, and elevation. However, there was also significant positive correlation between the level of human interaction and the productivity variability (rho= 0.520, p < 0.001). Aymaran management increased seasonal productivity highs to a greater extent than seasonal lows. These results suggest that Aymaran management practices improve productivity of the bofedales and increase annual productivity variation.

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