Ph.D. Program in Oceanography and Global Change at the Canary Islands, Spain

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Néstor Marrero Rodríguez (Ph.D. Student) "An historical ecological assessment of long term land-uses and induced landscape change in the arid aeolian sedimentary systems of the Canary Islands"

Coastal areas worldwide are undergoing major changes and degradation due to a set of combined natural and anthropogenic stressors. In arid aeolian sedimentary systems these changes can be even more acute given their sensitivity to perturbances in landscape dynamics. The aim of this thesis is to analyze the relationship between the degradation of the arid aeolian sedimentary systems due to historical long-term land uses and its subsequent biogeomorphological evolution. The methodology combines historical sources (historical documents, aerial and common photographs, and oral sources) and current ones (orthophotos, LiDAR data and field work). By doing so, different phases of land exploitation associated with changing land ownership or economic trends were identified and the consequences of each on the dune systems assessed. It is concluded that the transition from traditional land uses (livestock, cultivation and fuel extraction) to more recent ones (aggregate extraction, aerodromes, construction of new roads and urban-touristic resorts, and some recreational uses) has altered aeolian sedimentary transport, the topography of the system and the vegetation cover. The cessation of these uses induced the stabilization of the landforms and the spontaneous recovery of vegetation.