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Local Habitat Modulation of Climate Change Effects on High-Altitude Tropical Conifers and Temporal and Geographic Variation in the Effects of Heritage Conservation on Poverty Reduction

  • Author(s): Quadri, Paulo
  • Advisor(s): Zavaleta, Erika A
  • et al.
Creative Commons 'BY-NC-SA' version 4.0 license
Abstract

Species in tropical mountains are more vulnerable to climate change than species elsewhere because their adaptations are more tightly coupled to their habitats and because tropical high elevations seem to be warming faster than the rest of the planet. However, the vast diversity of habitats that characterizes tropical mountains can also work as refugia during periods of climatic change, potentially conferring greater long-term resilience to species inhabiting these environments. Using a combination of population ecology, dendroecology and stable isotopes, I found important shifts in the distribution and growth of two endemic tropical conifers of Central Mexico. These shifts vary significantly as a function of local habitat, highlighting the importance of understanding the interactions between local environmental factors and climate change to identify areas of special conservation value during the 21st century.

Conservation policy instruments however, are politically controversial because they compete with other economic land uses. For many years now, critics of modern protected areas (PAs) have claimed that they exacerbate local poverty by restricting access to land and resources. By using cultural heritage sites in Mexico as a surrogate system for PAs, I isolated the effects of attracting tourism (present at cultural heritage sites) from the potential effect of land use restrictions (absent from cultural heritage sites) on poverty. The direction and magnitude of these sites’ effects on local poverty reduction shifted between 1990 and 2010, mediated by local and regional geographic differences. Our findings suggest that land use restrictions by PAs are not necessarily responsible for the lack of win-win outcomes in conservation and development, and that other, more complex institutional factors may offer better explanations.

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