Sustaining Long Term Ecological Research in Venezuela: opportunities and challenges [S-12]

Emilio J Vilanova, University of California Berkeley
Cristabel Duran, University of Freiburg

This symposium is a great opportunity for communicating ongoing long term ecological research in Venezuela while simultaneously serving as a channel to call for a wider attention to the risks of losing a highly valuable and critical scientific infrastructure for the tropics.

"Venezuela is one of the most biologically rich countries in the world. Located in the northern portion of South America, slightly above the equator, the combination of a wide range of climatic conditions with young and old geological formations, topography and elevation, influences the existence of distinct ecosystem types including different and diverse forest-types, savannas, wetlands, paramos, deserts and more across the country’s landscapes. We, the organizers and presenters of this symposium, all Venezuelan scientists and citizens living inside and outside the country, in close collaboration with other international researchers and partners, have been working for decades to understand the complexity of ecological processes at multiple spatial and temporal scales. In doing so, we have followed the pioneering efforts of others that started in the 20th century making Venezuelan ecological research a key component of the scientific activity of the tropical region for many decades.

Sustaining ecological research, especially in the long-term, involves multiple practical challenges, including managing multi-institutional collaborations, complex intellectual property interests and permit processes, as well as implementing scientific training, health and safety protocols, all across multiple sites while complying with local and national regulations. In Venezuela, these challenges have become essentially insurmountable at least in the last decade because of the political and economic upheaval that has made scientific research at all levels practically impossible. This symposium seeks to bring together a community of Venezuelan scientists currently conducting important research under very complicated circumstances to highlight a few of the many long-term scientific efforts currently in place but that are also at high risk of disappearing. More specifically, our aim for this symposium is to discuss potential answers to the following questions:

*What is the current state of long-term ecological research across diverse ecological regions in Venezuela?
*How global change is affecting unique ecosystems across Venezuela?
*How the ATBC can help the Venezuelan scientific community strengthen capacity development and outreach?
*How Venezuelan scientists can collaborate in answering regional and global questions that are relevant to ATBC?.

These questions would be addressed in four scientific short talks and a 20-min live discussion in which participants will present different views on scientific and conservation issues relevant to a wide range of ecological regions in Venezuela. An ultimate goal of this symposium is to enhance scientific collaboration and networking among tropical ecologists working in one of the most diverse areas of the world.

Photo: Emilio Vilanova

Synchronic and monitoring approaches for understanding climate change impacts in the Venezuelan high Andes (Luis Llambi)

Recognizing the stressors that determine the loss of coastal rivers and their fishes in Venezuela (Douglas Rodriguez Olarte)

Impacts of Global Change on the Spatial Dynamics in Venezuela. Los Andes ecoregion case (Eulogio Chacón)

More than four decades monitoring the structure and function of Venezuelan tropical forests: main results and the way forward (Cristabel Durán Rangel)



Sustaining Long Term Ecological Research in Venezuela: opportunities and challenges [S-12]