Isla de Vieques: Landscape

Objectives This lesson is an examination of some big themes on a special landscape. The landscape will be the Island of Vieques, which is part of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. This landscape will enable us to study: island biogeography, Caribbean culture and ecology, land use conflicts surrounding military bases, environmental contamination from military activities, national wildlife refuges, and sustainable tourism.
Island biogeography is a particular study of conservation biology that looks at the ecology of islands. The peculiar importance of islands was discussed as early as Charles Darwin’s trip to the Galapagos in the 1830s as chronicled in his book, The Voyage of the Beagle. It gave a title to seminal textbook, Island Biogeography, by Robert MacArthur and E. 0. Wilson. At the core of island biogeography is an explanation of species colonization, extirpation, evolution, and richness. Thinking back to our early lessons looking at landscape ecology, it is important to note that principles from island biogeography can be applied to landscape ecology of large land masses.
The Isla de Vieques is an interesting case study for our interests in landscapes that are coupled natural and human systems. There are islands which are nearly purely conservation hotspots, like Isla de Mona and others that are nearly all developed. Vieques, through a twist of history, is about one-half national wildlife refuge and one-half private. It is rapidly developing a tourist industry. Now of course we have the 2017 Hurricane Irma and Maria. Back-to-back storms that battered Vieques and Puerto Rico. This takes a landscape we are intensely interested in already and makes it a teachable moment. So our specific objectives are to study the landscape system by understanding the following key concepts. Key Concepts: Island biogeography Caribbean ecology and conservation Conservation hotspots Impacts of BRAC (Base Realignment Commission) Conservation on former military bases EPA Superfund Bombing as a keystone process Environmental remediation Sustainable tourism Isla de Vieques landscape system Island culture Hurricane vulnerability







Sample Solution