Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

An uphill climb for mountain species?

03.09.2014

A new paper looks at the issues facing biodiversity throughout the world's mountain regions, sets agenda for conservation

A recently published paper provides a history of scientific research on mountain ecosystems, looks at the issues threatening wildlife in these systems, and sets an agenda for biodiversity conservation throughout the world's mountain regions.


Wolverines depend on the cold snow-pack provided by mountain habitat to den and store food.

Credit: Photo credit: Mark Packila

The paper, "Mountain gloom and mountain glory revisited: A survey of conservation, connectivity, and climate change in mountain regions," appears online in the Journal of Mountain Ecology. Authors are Charles C. Chester of Tufts University, Jodi A. Hilty of the Wildlife Conservation Society, and Lawrence S. Hamilton of World Commission on Protected Areas/IUCN.

Mountains cover about 27 percent of the earth's surface. They inspire awe and cultural lore, and directly influence the patterns of settlement and movement by humans and wildlife. Despite some degree of protection due to their inherent inaccessibility, mountain regions are still fragile ecosystems threatened by human-related impacts such as logging and erosion, acid deposition, and climate change.

For some wildlife species, these impacts are problematic. Wolverines, for example, depend on cold snow-pack to den and store food. As this resource becomes less permanent due to warming, wolverine populations may become physically and genetically isolated—leading to decline of the species

"Scientists and conservationists have long recognized the importance of mountains for both biodiversity and human well-being," said co-author Charles Chester. "If we are going to achieve effective and lasting protection of wildlife and resources such as water, mountains have to be pre-eminent in our thinking and implementation of conservation measures."

How do we protect species from human-related impacts and the perils of isolation? The authors examine the concept and importance of maintaining connectivity (ability of wildlife populations to move among landscapes between habitat "islands" such as mountain tops, forest fragments and isolated wetlands) and corridor ecology. Looking at both pro- and con- arguments of an ongoing corridor debate, they present criteria under which corridors may and may not be effective.

The report also examines climate change and its impact on high elevation environments, citing findings that impacts in mountain ecosystems may be greater than any other after those in the arctic. In their conclusion, the authors state that it is important for conservationists to see climate change not as one of numerous independent variables acting on species survival in mountain landscapes, but as an exacerbating force over the many direct human alterations to these areas.

Co-author and Executive Director of WCS's North America Program Jodi Hilty said, "The distribution of biodiversity in mountain ecosystems is determined by such things as elevation and slope. These variables and the relative intactedness of these ecosystems is likely to be a critical factor in maintaining the health of montane species in the face of climate change."

The authors conclude that three distinct research communities focused on corridor ecology, climate change and mountain research will need to work together and provide support in addressing four key questions:

  • What do we need to understand about mountain diversity and its interaction with human communities?
  • How can on-the-ground corridors provide sufficient connectivity between natural mountain communities, species and populations.
  • To what degree will human-caused climate change require us to modify our response to the first two questions?
  • How can we best build resilience into mountain ecosystems?

     

"Protection of mountain diversity (both biological and cultural) depends on the collaboration of these three research communities in tackling these important questions" said Lawrence (Larry) Hamilton. "Mountains have proven to offer an excellent milieu for both inter- and multi-disciplinary research among the natural sciences, and between natural and social sciences"

Ultimately, the authors state that these questions "encapsulate a unified mountain research agenda." By a process of answering and reframing the questions, the research community can inform and increase adaptive management capacity.

Stephen Sautner | Eurek Alert!

Further reports about: Conservation Mountain Wildlife Wolverines diversity ecology ecosystems importance landscapes populations species

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Global threat to primates concerns us all
19.01.2017 | Deutsches Primatenzentrum GmbH - Leibniz-Institut für Primatenforschung

nachricht Reducing household waste with less energy
18.01.2017 | FIZ Karlsruhe – Leibniz-Institut für Informationsinfrastruktur GmbH

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Tracking movement of immune cells identifies key first steps in inflammatory arthritis

23.01.2017 | Health and Medicine

Electrocatalysis can advance green transition

23.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New technology for mass-production of complex molded composite components

23.01.2017 | Process Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>