Seeing through the clouds – Mapping desert fog oasis ecosystems using 20 years of MODIS imagery over Peru and Chile

Justin Moat, Alfonso Orellana-Garcia, Carolina Tovar, Mónica Arakaki, César Arana, Asunción Cano, Luis Faundez, Martin Gardner, Paulina Hechenleitner, Josefina Hepp, Gwilym Lewis, José Manuel Mamani, María Miyasiro, Oliver Q. Whaley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

The desert fog oasis ecosystem of Peru and Chile comprises numerous oases along 3000 km of the Pacific coastal belt, it hosts a highly endemic flora, providing vital ecosystem services and genetic resources. However, due to their marked seasonality and fog cover they are poorly mapped, greatly compromising their conservation. Here we redress this using 479 images from the MODIS (MOD13Q1 V6 product) data/algorithm for the period 2000–2020, permitting the mapping of ephemeral vegetation, herbaceous and woody fog oases vegetation. In addition, we examine the main drivers of productivity in this unique ecosystem using generalised linear models, assess human pressures, conservation efforts, and summarise present plant diversity knowledge. The resultant map (https://gistin.users.earthengine.app/view/fogoasis) extends existing mapped areas by more than four-fold to over 17,000 km2, revealing extensive little-known vegetation habitats with few or no collection records. Tillandsia (‘air plants’) fog oases were mapped manually due to poor spectral discrimination and were found to cover an area of approximately 1,900 km2 the majority of which is in Peru (96%). Fog oasis productivity is significantly related to aridity and distance to the coast, as well as elevation and slope angle. Most fog oases peak in productivity during August-September, although productivity is highly variable between August and December with different oases reacting to inter-annual and annual climate fluxes. Only 4% of fog oases are protected, most are threatened by mining, urban development, air pollution and off-road 4 × 4 driving. Urgent action is needed to protect these areas, which we estimate support around 1200 ecosystem-specific flowering plant species with approximately 30% endemism in Peru and 67% in Chile. By presenting a comprehensive map and catalogue of Peruvian and Chilean fog oases, we hope to catalyse increased conservation and research towards a better understanding of these exceptional ecosystems within South America.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102468
JournalInternational Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation
Volume103
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work has been gestating for many years and has only been possible through the support of many colleagues. We are grateful to Amanda Cooper, Steve Bachman, Tim Wilkinson, Bente Klitgaard and Susana Baena (all, from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew) for their support in the field with mapping and Red Listing of species. We thank Ian Ondo for his statistical knowledge and advice with the driver analysis, and Ralf Hesse for supplying Tillandsia mapping data for the Ica region. Also, to David Beresford-Jones (Archeobotanist at University of Cambridge), and Gunnar Ovstebo (Horticulturist at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh). To Michael Dillon (The Field Museum) for his love of fog oases and Nolana and other lomas flora we are greatly indebted.

Funding Information:
We are extremely grateful for the continued support from the Bentham-Moxon Trust, who funded collaborative field work in the fog oases for some of the authors. The initial investigation was supported by the UK Government’s Darwin Initiative (Project Ref. No. 15-016), and funding from Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; J Sainsbury’s plc, and Sociedad Agrícola Samaca S.A.C. Further work is funded by the National Geographic Society (NGS-72454C-20)

Funding Information:
We are extremely grateful for the continued support from the Bentham-Moxon Trust, who funded collaborative field work in the fog oases for some of the authors. The initial investigation was supported by the UK Government's Darwin Initiative (Project Ref. No. 15-016), and funding from Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; J Sainsbury's plc, and Sociedad Agr?cola Samaca S.A.C. Further work is funded by the National Geographic Society (NGS-72454C-20), This work has been gestating for many years and has only been possible through the support of many colleagues. We are grateful to Amanda Cooper, Steve Bachman, Tim Wilkinson, Bente Klitgaard and Susana Baena (all, from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew) for their support in the field with mapping and Red Listing of species. We thank Ian Ondo for his statistical knowledge and advice with the driver analysis, and Ralf Hesse for supplying Tillandsia mapping data for the Ica region. Also, to David Beresford-Jones (Archeobotanist at University of Cambridge), and Gunnar Ovstebo (Horticulturist at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh). To Michael Dillon (The Field Museum) for his love of fog oases and Nolana and other lomas flora we are greatly indebted. In Per?, research and fieldwork would have been impossible without the collaboration and support of our superb project partners, especially: Asociaci?n para la Ni?ez y su Ambiente-ANIA (Joaqu?n Legu?a, Marycarmen Arteaga), Agr?cola Chapi S.A. (Augusto, Ursula and Alvaro Baertl), Horizonte Corporativo (Tirco Rojas), Fundo Org?nico Huaquina-Vivero Topar? (Klaus? and Stefan Bederski) and Samaca Org?nico (Alberto Benavides to whom deep gratitude goes for his support and love of lomas). To public and academic institutions, especially: Administraci?n T?cnica Forestal y de Fauna Silvestre (ATFFS Ica, especially to Carmen Castilla, Jhon Fernandez and Luis Mercado) of Servicio Nacional Forestal y de Fauna Silvestre (SERFOR), Servicio Nacional de ?reas Naturales Protegidas por el Estado (SERNANP; to the ANP: RNSF, RNP, RNSIIPG, RNL, ZRI, ACRSLL, ACPLA, ACPLCC).). To the Faculty of Biological Sciences and Research Institute of the San Luis Gonzaga National University (UNSLG), to the Floristics Laboratory, Botany Department of the Natural History Museum of the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos (UNMSM) and the herbarium collections at USM, MOL (Forestal and Weberbauer), HSP, HUSA, and HUT. C. Arana was partially funded by VRIP-UNMSM (Project B17100051), We are extremely grateful to the students and professionals who have supported field collections and georeferencing of botanical data, especially: Jean Capcha, Willinton Taquiri, Iomar Santana, Christian Padilla, Emilio Mitacc, Hudson Yonjoy, Miguel Aparcana, Francisco Perales, Arlyne Ramos, Ronal Sumiano, Jes?s Orme?o, Darwin Garcia, Luis Casma, Caesar Choza, Yannet Quispe, Mijahel Lara, Erick Ram?rez, Josu? C?rdenas, Marco Mendoza, Juan Muchaypi?a, Delsy Trujillo,Daniel Montesinos, V?ctor Quipuscoa, Aldo Ortega, Amalia Delgado, Norton Cuba, Roobert Jimenez, Manolo Fernandez, Ivan Reyna, Miguel Astocaza, Marco S?nchez, F?tima C?ceres?, Miguel Hinojosa, C?sar C?ceres F?lix Quinteros, Miguel Bailetti, Emerson Ccoyllo and Jorge Chipa. And also, huge thanks to the ?rea de Conservaci?n Privada Lomas de Atiquipa directed by the Comunidad Campesina de Yauca, Jaqui y Atiquipa. In Chile, we are grateful for the continual support of the following institutions: the National Agricultural Research Institute - INIA, especially the Seed Bank and the team led by Carolina Pa?itrur (including Ana Sandoval and Sergio Iba?ez); the Ministry of Environment, especially the Regional Secretariat of Antofagasta and Roberto Villablanca; the National Forestry Corporation - CONAF (in particular CONAF Atacama, Tarapac? and Antofagasta); the Atacama Desert Centre of Universidad Cat?lica de Chile, who provided information and access to their experimental station at the Alto Patache fog oasis; and the National Research and Development Agency (ANID), for the grants and funding that have enabled this research and field visits to be carried out. A large part of the Chilean flora data set is a legacy of the 2002-2005 Darwin Initiative project (DR 11-012) collaboration between the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) and the Universidad Austral de Chile (UACh), which utilised historical herbarium collections deposited at RBGE and eventually led to the development of the Endemic plants of Chile portal. We are extremely grateful to CONAF, their staff and park rangers, for granting permission to undertake research in government protected (SNASPE) areas. We are also grateful to Juan Larra?n for valuable information on the poorly known Bryophyte flora of fog oases.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors

Keywords

  • Atacama
  • Google Earth Engine
  • Lomas
  • Oasis de Niebla
  • Remote sensing
  • Tillandsia

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