Listen to podcast (slides not available)
Speaker: Carolina Tovar, Early Career Research Fellow, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Mountain regions are highly threatened by climate change. Both observed and projected changes suggest that the biogeographical range of some species is contracting, local extinctions are occurring, and plant populations typical of these regions are increasingly fragmenting. Carolina will focus on the potential impacts of climate change on tropical alpine grasslands in particular. These grasslands host an exceptionally large number of endemic species, and also a considerable human population that directly depend on local ecosystem services. In this talk, Carolina will give an overview of the tropical alpine grassland communities in the Andes. She will discuss how gaining more insight into the climatic tolerances of species and their dispersal strategies, may help to assess the potential impact of climate change on the plant species and plant communities. Lastly, she will discuss the wider implications of these changes on the ecosystem services of the Andes, including useful plants.
Carolina is an ecologist with a main interest in biogeography. She specializes in understanding spatial biodiversity patterns in tropical regions and the underlying ecological processes. She also analyses the impact of past natural and human disturbances (e.g. land use change, fires, climate change) on biodiversity patterns, as a way to improve predictions of how such disturbances will shape biodiversity in the future.
Her work at Kew focuses on analysing the role of dispersal processes for plant biodiversity in the Tropical Andes under different climate change scenarios. The Andes are a fragmented environment because of natural and anthropogenic processes. Therefore dispersal will be a key process for species persistence under future warming conditions. For this project she combines dispersal traits, palaeoecological data and species distribution models. She uses various mathematical and statistical techniques such as data mining, different modelling techniques and other recent developments in bioinformatics.