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Into the wild
Date:5/28/2008

An intrepid team of researchers from The University of Nottingham are venturing into one of the most isolated regions on the planet to study the potentially devastating effects of global warming on natural habitats.

Led by ecology lecturer Dr Markus Eichhorn, the team will spend 10 weeks camping in the wilderness of the Kamchatka Peninsula in Far East Russia, an area of outstanding natural beauty that boasts the northern hemisphere's largest active volcano, an unusually large population of grizzly bears and giant herbs that can grow in excess of 10ft high.

The researchers will spend their time carefully mapping the extraordinary abundance of plant and animal life as a starting point to monitoring the effects of climate change on the area, which is one of the fastest warming regions in the world.

Kamchatka is a volcanic peninsula on the pacific 'ring of fire' covering an area of 472,300 km and boasting 160 volcanoes, 29 of which are still active. It has a population of 402,500 but more than half of its inhabitants live in the region's administrative and industrial centre Petropavlosk-Kamchatsky. After World War II, the region was declared a military zone and was closed to foreigners until 1990.

Among the diverse wildlife found in the region are a large number of grizzly bears sustained by lakes and rivers teeming with many species of salmon wolves, arctic foxes, lynx, wolverine, sable, reindeer and moose. Kamchatka is also the breeding ground for Steller's sea eagle, one of the largest eagle species with a wing span up to two metres.

Dr Eichhorn, of the University's School of Biology, said: It's going to be a fantastic experience from an exploratory perspective. The region is so sparsely populated that for the large part the landscape is completely unspoilt, it really is a wilderness. Being given the chance to study the flora and fauna of somewhere so untouched by man is a huge privilege.

He will be accompa
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Contact: Dr. Markus Eichhorn
markus.eichhorn@nottingham.ac.uk
44-011-595-13214
University of Nottingham
Source:Eurekalert

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