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Ecología Aplicada

versión impresa ISSN 1726-2216


SANCHEZ INFANTAS, Edgar  y  QUINTEROS CARLOS, Zulema. Relevance of the concept of Environmental Quality Standard (Eca) in the management of environmental systems with several alternative states. Case study of a peruvian experience. Ecol. apl. [online]. 2017, vol.16, n.2, pp.151-164. ISSN 1726-2216.

Environmental Quality Standards are instruments part of the Peruvian environmental legislation that seem to have contradictions: they define ecosystems as complex adaptive systems (CAS), but their management objectives and tools consider them as simple systems. This is expressed in two assumptions that are used tacitly and that state that (1) the ecosystems are in steady state and (2) environmental quality can be evaluated taking into consideration individual variables without paying attention to their interactions. The first hypothesis does not consider that a CAS can evolve or change; the second one ignores that a CAS has emergent behaviors that arise from the interaction of their different variables and that are different from the mere sum of individual behaviors. These two assumptions are tested with information generated in the monitoring of a gas engineering project in Playa Lobería, Pisco, which refers to the physical and chemical variables of the sea surface waters and the macrozoobentos biomass in transects of the Zone of Direct Influence of the project. Using time series of the two sets of variables, chronological dendrograms were constructed to identify the alternative states through which the system has passed. The statistical significance of the differences between the alternative states was evaluated using a non-parametric multivariable variance analysis (PERMANOVA). Finally, a Principal Component Analysis allowed to identify the variables associated to each of the identified alternative states. The results suggest that the analyzed ecosystem has more than one alternative state and that when it returns to a state prior to the occurrence of a disturbance it does so by a different path (hysteresis). This contradicts the assumption of stationarity assumed by ECAs. Interactions between environmental variables and natural processes (seasonality) and anthropic disturbances have also been identified, leading to the emergence of behaviors that can only be understood if evaluated together. This queries the assumption made by Environmental Quality Standard can be assessed by considering the variables that define it individually, without paying attention to their interactions. The implications of these results in terms of environmental management are discussed.

Palabras clave : Environmental Quality Standard; environmental management; steady state; emergent behavior; adaptive complex system; alternative states; chronological dendrogram.

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