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An uphill climb for mountain species?
Date:9/2/2014

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.

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 isolatedleading 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 a
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Contact: Stephen Sautner
ssautner@wcs.org
718-220-3682
Wildlife Conservation Society
Source:Eurekalert  

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