20
Tue, Feb

Crop Failure in the Andes

Typography

Kenneth Feeley, the Smathers Chair of Tropical Tree Biology in the University of Miami’s Department of Biology, is an expert in studying the effects of climate change on tropical forests. From the mountains of Peru to the lowlands of the Amazon, Feeley examines the ramifications of climate change on the trees and other species that comprise the diverse forests of these regions. Yet, recently, Feeley shifted gears from studying tropical forests to examining the impacts of climate change in rural farming communities in Peru.

Kenneth Feeley, the Smathers Chair of Tropical Tree Biology in the University of Miami’s Department of Biology, is an expert in studying the effects of climate change on tropical forests. From the mountains of Peru to the lowlands of the Amazon, Feeley examines the ramifications of climate change on the trees and other species that comprise the diverse forests of these regions. Yet, recently, Feeley shifted gears from studying tropical forests to examining the impacts of climate change in rural farming communities in Peru.

As co-author of a study published in Global Change Biology, Feeley, along with fellow biologist, Richard Tito, a native Quechua Indian from the region and the study’s first author, discovered that tough times lie ahead for rural farmers growing the Andes’ staple crops—corn and potatoes.

“The research was executed in a very remote part of Peru,” said Feeley. “We were trying to look at how the traditional agriculture practices of people in the high Andes Mountains will be impacted by climate change so we performed a set of experiments to simulate different scenarios under global warming.”

In the first experiment, the researchers simulated what will happen if farmers continue cultivating the same areas amid rising temperatures. To do this, they grew corn farther down the mountain, where temperatures are slightly higher. “We carried in the soil from where the corn is normally grown because the soil at the top of the mountain is different in texture and nutrients than the soil at lower elevations,” said Feeley.

Read more at University of Miami

Image: This is a Peruvian potato farmer. (Credit: Saúl M. Tito)