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Access Type

Campus-Only Access for One (1) Year

Document Type


Degree Program

Environmental Conservation

Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



Many regions of the Amazon are experiencing drastic changes as deforestation and climate change drive the world’s largest continuous rainforest towards a ‘tipping point’. These disturbances are changing natural cycles that once past a critical threshold, will mark an unstoppable transition to an altered ecosystem. Losing areas of the Amazon rainforest will have implications for the global climate, global carbon budget, and global hydrological regimes. Scholars have projected these tipping points for areas of the eastern Amazon rainforest, but much less scholarship focuses on the headwaters of the Western Amazon, an area of great cultural and biological importance. Ecuador is one such country. This study aims to model a tipping point for the Ecuadorian Amazon by investigating the potential outcomes of a warming climate and land cover change through 1. a comprehensive review of regional circulation models and global circulation models in the Ecuadorian Amazon, 2. a comprehensive review of anthropogenic disturbances in the Ecuadorian Amazon and their impact on communities, soil, flora and fauna, and 3. A model projecting the deforestation tipping point of the Ecuadorian Amazon. The results of my study will identify patterns of forest loss and provide quantitative assessments of potential ‘tipping points’ in a future Ecuadorian Amazon. The methods and model created herein can be used by future researchers to evaluate regional drivers of deforestation and predict land cover change under future scenarios.


First Advisor

Forrest Bowlick

Second Advisor

Michael Nelson