Writing in the January issue of the Journal of Applied Ecology, Italian ecologists warn that ski pistes above the tree line result in fewer species and lower numbers of birds compared with natural grassland at similar altitudes. Ski developers should use new, environmentally-friendly techniques when constructing pistes in future, they say.
According to Professor Antonio Rolando and colleagues from Turin University: “Winter sports represent a potentially serious threat to the conservation of wildlife habitat in the Alps. Bulldozers and power shovels are used to remove soil and provide suitable slopes for skiers. To a lesser extent, vegetation may also be damaged by skiing and ski-piste preparation by snow-grooming vehicles. The ski pistes that we sampled were devastated environmental patches, from which shrubby and herbaceous native vegetation had been removed and/or severely damaged and artificial seeding - if any - had produced very poor grass cover.”
Working at the top of the Susa Valley - the site of last year's Winter Olympics - and around the Monte Rosa and Monte Bianco massifs in the western Italian Alps, the team measured the number of birds and the number of bird species at seven sites between 2010 metres and 2892 metres.
They found that, compared with natural grassland, ski pistes had fewer species and lower numbers of birds. Areas next to ski pistes also suffered, supporting lower numbers of birds. They found fewer arthropods on the ski pistes, suggesting that a shortage of food may be responsible for so few birds occurring on these sites.
“More than one-quarter of the 26 bird species in this study - including the rock partridge, the red-billed chough and the wheatear - are classified as species of European conservation concern,” Professor Rolando says.
As winter snowfall at lower altitudes becomes less reliable, high altitude alpine areas are increasingly important to the skiing industry. To allow birds and skiers to co-exist, developers will have to change their practices. According to Professor Rolando: “Retaining the bird life of these zones is likely to involve developing new, environmentally-friendly ways of constructing pistes, such as only removing rocks or levelling the roughest ground surfaces in order to preserve as much soil and natural vegetation as possible.”
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27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung
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The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.
To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
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Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
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