Thesis: Towards effective management of degraded ecosystems in the highlands of Galapagos
This project aims to use ecological theory and innovative technology to create products that will be a major step forwards in managing the degraded ecosystems in Galapagos. The objectives are to:
• Map vegetation in the highlands of Galapagos and assess the conservation value of vegetation communities.
• Prioritize sites for restoration action in the highlands of Galapagos.
Remotely sensed imagery will be used to classify vegetation classes and these will be ground-truthed using information from transects surveyed in the field. A GIS model will be developed to evaluate all sites for their restoration priority.
Why my research is important
The unique terrestrial habitats of the world-renowned Galapagos Islands are suffering degradation caused by human habitation and invasive species, particularly in the humid highlands. Local management institutions currently lack good quality data and technical capacity to prioritize restoration efforts to make the most of limited funding whilst maximizing conservation outcomes. The regional government also needs quality data on conservation values (species richness and distribution) across the landscape in order to plan for future land use changes and avoid further damage.