Subsidient: Maarten Meijer/Utrecht University
Subsidy: S20.2-61

Mountain ecosystem services are crucial mankind’s survival: think of water regulation, biodiversity hotspots but also buffering for climate change. Mountains are also known as among the most fragile and least understood ecosystems on Earth, so local residents often have very low input from the scientific community on how to deal with climate change.  In the Tropical Andes, grasslands are vital for the survival of its inhabitants, of which 60% depend on their herds of alpacas. The stable production of grass for the herders’ grazers is thus also a key ecosystem service.
In this study I looked at the relationship of grazing intensity with ecosystem stability in a Bolivian national park, and if there were signs of increased vulnerability to drought with grazing intensity and links with biodiversity patterns. To provide results relevant at the decision table of regional park management, I attempted to scale up my results towards regional level with satellite data. I found that grazing is associated with higher drought vulnerability, indirectly decreasing stability. This could be relevant because management might have to consider that increasing grazing intensity could make the grasslands vulnerable in the face of climate change.