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J. Moreno-Andrés1, M. Bolado-Penagos2, F. López3

1Marine Research Institute (INMAR). University of Cádiz (SPAIN)
2University of Cádiz (SPAIN)
3Universidad Tecnica Particular de Loja (UTPL) (ECUADOR)
The Andean region of Ecuador presents several types of forests and ecosystems with a great richness of biodiversity from a social, biocultural, economic and landscape point of view. Also, Ecuadorian Andes are the region with the largest population in the country, which generates a greater pressure towards the natural resources. This elevate density population has caused that large extensions of high Andean ecosystems, such as forests or wetlands, were transformed for the development of agricultural activities, human settlements and recreational activities. It has caused serious damages in the ecological functions of these ecosystems and, therefore, negative impacts on their environmental services, particularly, decrease in both quality and quantity of water.

Through the last years, UTPL (Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja) and its researchers have been trying to characterize high Andean wetlands with the goal to get Ramsar qualification, thus major protection would be obtained for these particular ecosystems. However, the lack of economic and human resources as well as research projects, together with the complex geographical location of the wetlands had been made impossible these sorts of projects and studies.

In this sense, thanks to the relationship between University of Cádiz and UTPL in cooperation of both educational and research programs; a research stay was developed in order to merge knowledge in terms of water management. As a result, a complete seminar was instructed by both institution staff members, it was called: “Integrated water management: scientific research application to high Andean wetlands”. Students were trained and taught about the main concepts related to water management. Besides, with the aim to give a practical point of view, basic aspects of sampling procedures, conservation of samples and water quality analysis were performed. Afterwards, students and the university crew were split in different groups and a field campaign was carried out in some of the high Andean wetlands. Once all data were collected and analyzed, each group worked on a report about the specific wetland sampled in terms of applying different water quality index.

As a result of this work, a big contribution was performed in order to fulfill an application of wetlands as Ramsar Area, specifically for the Lake System Oña-Yacuambi. So, since a research stay was planned, it became in an educational activity of integrated water management. Due to students were trained in practical aspects, they could contribute to an important study of great significance for the University and the city of Loja. Moreover, this activity contributed for strengths in cooperation and training for water quality research to promote future collaborations between both institutions.