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Honey Hunting: An Age-Old Tradition Meets Modern Threats

[caption id="attachment_3654" align="alignright" width="300"] Apis Laboriosa, the Himalayan giant honey bee, is the largest honeybee in the world. Photo: Niraj Karki.Wild honey from Apis Laboriosa, the Himalayan giant honey bee, has been gathered by Gurung people from cliffs in the Himalayan foothills of Nepal for centuries. Apis Laboriosa is the largest honeybee in the world, and is referred to as ‘Bheer-Mauri’ in Nepali, which directly translates into ‘cliff bee.’ It is crucial for pollinating wild flora and crops in the mountains. The Gurung people across many parts of Nepal, especially the Kaski and Lamjung Districts, value their tradition of honey hunting as part of their lifestyle, and collect honey twice a year during the spring and autumn. The honey they gather is prized due to both its medicinal properties and monetary worth.Every year, during the start of the spring or autumn season, the local Shaman (priest or the elder of the tribe) of...
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Running off the road

[caption id="attachment_3639" align="alignright" width="400"] Mountain roads – and the cars and people on them – facilitate non-native species movement up to high elevations. Here: Davos, Switzerland It is a familiar pattern by now, confirmed over and over in virtually all mountain regions we study: roads are facilitating the introduction of non-native plant species into mountains. Humans introduce – on purpose or by accident – new species in the valleys, and from there they start spreading uphill. On their way towards high elevations, mountain roads serve as a great highway. But with increasing elevation, fewer and fewer non-natives will be found, as they progressively drop out the higher you get. The few that make it all the way to the top by road could possibly spread from there into the natural mountain vegetation, but even fewer species manage that. All of that we knew, indeed, but a crucial question remains: who wins this...
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Plant species are on the move ...

... and it is us humans who are moving them.Human actions are having a significant impact on the distribution of plant species, and even more so than the warming climate. This is the surprising outcome of the PhD thesis of University of Antwerp-based Jonas Lembrechts, who is studying plant species distributions in cold-climate mountain regions.Yes, the warming climate is shifting the distribution of plant species poleward and to higher elevations, but our actions are causing even more rapid and structural changes to where species can be found. In his PhD, Lembrechts showed how humans are helping non-native species to invade mountain regions: “Humans are taking non-native plant species with them all over the world, introducing them to other mountain regions. Once there, these species can profit from human structures like mountain roads to move rapidly to higher elevations,” Lembrechts explains.[caption id="attachment_3604" align="alignright" width="300"] Mountain roads – here in the Chilean Andes...
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HICAP: Adaptation to climate change in the Himalayas

[caption id="attachment_3558" align="alignright" width="300"] HICAP – a transboundary, inter-disciplinary and multi-scale programmeAn infographic journey of the long road from science to policy impact - by Björn Alfthan (GRID-Arendal[1]), Nand Kishor Agrawal (ICIMOD[2]), Bob Van Oort[3] & Nina Bergan Holmelin (CICERO).The Himalayan Climate Change Adaptation Programme (HICAP) was born out of a need to address critical knowledge gaps on the impacts of climate change in the Himalayas and to better understand under what conditions mountain communities can best adapt to change. Its main aims, elaborated in 2011, were to: Reduce uncertainty through downscaling and customizing global climate change scenarios, and developing water availability and demand scenarios for parts of major river basins Develop knowledge and enhance capacities to assess, monitor, and communicate the impacts of and responses to climate change on natural and socio-economic environments at the local, national and regional levels Make concrete and actionable proposals for strategies and policies considering vulnerabilities,...
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(Hi)story of Traditional Agricultural Landscapes in Slovakia

[caption id="attachment_3517" align="alignright" width="300"] Traditional vineyard agricultural landscapes Traditional agricultural landscapes (TAL) in Slovakia are unique remnants of small-scale agriculture, with cultural, biological, and aesthetic significance. Typical small-scale mosaics often copy specific forms of anthropogenic relief (terraces, balks, stone walls) and form a beautiful landscape pattern. The presence of unique folk architectonic features such as vineyard houses, cellars, and religious features often increases the beauty and cultural-historical value of these landscapes. After complicated political and economic changes during the 20th century, they survive on only 0.9% of the area of Slovakia, mostly in mountains, and are extensively abandoned. The changing political landscapeThe plains, basin valleys, and hilly parts of the landscape have all been cultivated in Slovakia over the centuries. The unique, small-scale division of land parcels stemmed from the adaptation of Hungarian Tripartitum law in 1514, which secured equal land division between each of a farmer's descendants. The farmers used to...
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Reflections on the Japanese and European Alps

[caption id="attachment_3487" align="alignright" width="300"] Mt. Hakusan (2,702 m), 45 km south-south-east of KanazawaI recently visited Japan as a guest of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, hosted by Kenichi Ueno (University of Tsukuba) who has posted some JALPS blogs. He has asked me to post some reflections on my visit. On first sight, the Japanese and European Alps have quite a few aspects in common. Both are relative hotspots of biodiversity, with many protected areas and biosphere reserves. In places, both tourism – including large ski areas – and hydroelectricity are well-developed. There is a long history of alpinism, often associated with scientific research. There are steep slopes, and significant infrastructure to minimise natural hazards. Forests occupy the greatest proportion of the landscape – and are expanding because of decreasing harvests and the abandonment of agricultural land. Challenges include, first, accessibility to remote valleys – but tunnels and high...
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SMArt: Artists' Views of the Mountain

[caption id="attachment_3476" align="alignright" width="300"] The wolf’s figure crystallizes a feeling of fear, sometimes visceral and irrational.SMArt – or Sustainable Mountain Art – is a Swiss-based program that aims to raise awareness of the challenges mountains face through art, and more specifically photography. The program hopes to awaken consciences by touching the heart and emotions rather than the intellect.‘The wolf at the door’ is a fresco by Colombian photographer Juan Arias, realised in autumn 2017 in the Sierre in the Swiss canton of Valais. He was invited by the SMArt program to look at the reality of this mountain region.Preparing for his stay from his home in Cali, Juan Arias discovered that a wolf had been illegally killed in Valais. Interested in human relationships and the underlying representations that influence these relationships, he instinctively understood the scope of this story and decided to tackle this delicate theme: the return of the wolf...
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An Unexpected Shift in Treeline Vegetation

[caption id="attachment_3405" align="alignright" width="300"] Photo 1: A map of the GTREE observation network. Image credit: Carissa Brown.Scientists usually aim to collect as much data as possible to help detect pervasive or repeated patterns often hidden by the high variability of individual observations. Drawing strong inference from individual, often anecdotal occurrences can be misleading because it is difficult to know whether the relationships we see can be generalized to other instances. On the other hand, as human beings we seem to learn well from stories of individual events, and these have the power to transform our understanding in ways that may have a bigger impact than reams of data. To me, this is one of the challenges of working as a field ecologist, where there is often a tension between developing strong inferential power by assembling datasets with many observations and developing a deeper understanding of the dynamics unfolding in any one...
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The power of the scientific family

[caption id="attachment_3624" align="alignleft" width="225"] Botanist working on Piz Tomuel in Safiental Switzerland in 2010. Photo: Sonja Wipf/SLF, Switzerland.I was lucky enough to grow up in an academic sense as part of a scientific collaboration that I can call my academic family: the Summit Flora family. Recently, the juiciest fruit of this collaboration was harvested when results from the Summit Flora project were published in Nature (Steinbauer et al. 2018). The analyses, based on 302 botanical resurveys of European mountain summits, show that since the 1870’s the plant species richness on summits has constantly increased. And more strikingly, this increase has accelerated hand in hand with climate warming over the past four decades, the enrichment rate now being five times higher than 50 years ago. Although several studies have suggested the link between warming and the upward migration of alpine species, this is the first time that the role of other potential drivers...
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Changing the Mountain Picture

[caption id="attachment_3179" align="alignright" width="300"] 'Baron Alexander von Humboldt,' by Julius Schrader. Humboldt chose the Ecuadorian mountains Chimborazo & Cotopaxi for the portrait's background. How do mountain roads and non-native species affect mountain biodiversity? Next year, we will celebrate 250 years since the birth of the German geographer, naturalist, and explorer Alexander von Humboldt. Few people had such a strong influence on modern science – and on ecology in particular. One of Humboldt's strongest interests was investigating how species richness and community composition change along elevational gradients. He was obsessed with the idea of climbing all the mountains he came across during his travels, and many of us probably have his famous drawings in mind, in which he noted down all species names and vegetation zones he found from the bottom to the top of each one. However, although the idea of investigating how the number of species varies with elevation is...
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Lagging Behind

Species have been reported to be moving poleward and upward in mountains as a result of climate change. Evidence of this movement is piling up rapidly, and with every passing year the increasing speed at which it is occurring is also becoming apparent. However, new studies reveal that this species movement is often not as straightforward as it first appears.[caption id="attachment_3155" align="alignright" width="300"] Plants and other sessile organism often show a delayed response to climate change. (Northern Scandes, Norway)One might think that as the climate warms, so species will follow. The problem is, a species’ reaction to a change in their environment is not always that fast. They often need some time to adjust and to move towards where the climate is now suitable. This delayed reaction is especially true for sessile species, like plants, that depend almost entirely on seed transportation to travel around.Toward greater understandingThese so-called lags in species...
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Swidden agriculture and the sustainability of mountain agriculture

Among Southeast Asian countries, Laos might be thought "a forgotten country". The reason for this is that it has no major industry other than agriculture and forestry, and it is judged, using UN criteria, to be a developing country. Furthermore, it is the only landlocked country in Southeast Asia.More than 80% of the land of Laos is occupied by mountains with an altitude of about 500 to 2,000m. The Annamese Mountains separating Laos and Vietnam and the northern highlands in Laos at the easternmost end of the Alpine-Himalayan orogenic belt were formed by Mesozoic orogenic movement. In these mountain areas, ethnic minorities from the Mon-Khmer and Sino-Tibetan language groups are engaged in subsistence swidden agriculture (shifting cultivation). This is one of the rare regions of the world where traditional swidden agriculture is still being practiced.[caption id="attachment_3029" align="alignright" width="300"] Typical mountain landscape of swidden agriculture in mountainous regions of northern Laos.Swidden agriculture...
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The Tree on Top of the World

“But if you do know what is taught by plants and weather, you are in on the gossip and can feel truly at home. The sum of a field's forces become what we call very loosely the 'spirit of the place.' To know the spirit of a place is to realize that you are a part of a part and that the whole is made parts, each of which in a whole.” - Gary Snyder[caption id="attachment_3019" align="alignright" width="300"] Katie busy doing fieldwork at a Polylepis tree location5:30 AM. 3600 M. Southern Ecuador. The whisper of dawn. I sipped the bitter coffee, my frozen fingers wrapped around the mug’s heat. Around me for miles the high altitude paramo grasslands were bright with a strange light: the night’s full moon (a once-in-a-few-years-super-blue-blood-moon) was setting, and the sun, not yet up, was just beginning to shoulder its crimson way toward the horizon. The grass ridges...
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PECSii Conference - Towards a More Resilient World

[caption id="attachment_2900" align="alignright" width="300"] View of the Sierra Juarez above Oaxaca CityIn early November, I had the privilege of attending the second conference of the Program on Ecosystem Change and Society (PECSii) in Oaxaca City, Mexico. For many reasons, the conference ranked among the best I have ever attended. The setting itself encompasses many of the challenges facing mountains and other social-ecological systems:  impacts from climate change, economic transformations, environmental problems and socio-political conundrums, here rooted in the legacies of Zapotec, MIxe, Mixtec and Imperial Spanish civilizations, as well as more recent human societies. PECSii participants came from around the world to present research and explore ideas that highlighted social-ecological predicaments and possibilities for constructive transformation. An Exciting Program [caption id="attachment_2901" align="alignleft" width="300"] City Street Scene - Oaxaca Sculpture in front of the Santo Domingo CathedralThe organizers used creative approaches for each of the components of the program.  We knew we...
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Land Cover and Land Use Change in the Tropical Andes

[caption id="attachment_2862" align="alignright" width="225"] In a post-workshop field trip, participants learned about an ecological restoration project in the Ecuadorian Chocó (Photo: Kenneth Young)Land use trends are a main driver of environmental change. To explore patterns, future scenarios, and research agendas related to land cover and land use change in the Tropical Andes, an MRI synthesis workshop was held in Quito, Ecuador, 27-29 September 2017. The Tropical Andes represent a global biodiversity hotspot, and regulate environmental services such as watershed and soil protection that affect millions of people. Due to steep topography and frequent cloud cover, however, remote sensing analyses of land cover change in the region are limited to specific locations and time periods.To go some way towards addressing this, an MRI synthesis workshop was held in September 2017 in Quito, Ecuador, and attended by experts on different aspects of land science and ecosystem services working in the Andes of Venezuela,...
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Human Needs & Wildlife Management: Pathways 2017

The 2017 Pathways Conference took place 17-20 September in the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, USA. Pathways to Success: Integrating Human Dimensions into Fish and Wildlife Management was an international gathering of over 270 scientists, NGOs, and government agencies from 20 countries. Its theme was FUTURES, addressing the myriad of issues that arise as people and wildlife struggle to coexist in a sustainable and healthy manner. Pathways 2017 was hosted by Colorado State University in partnership with the US Fish and Wildlife Service.Keynote speakers included Dan Ashe (President and CEO of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums), Joel Berger (Director of a number of projects for the Wildlife Conservation Society, or WCS) and Laurie Marker (Founder and Executive Director of the Cheetah Conservation Fund). In his speech, Dan Ashe called for a more integrated approach to conservation. Such an approach recognizes the human dimensions of fish and wildlife management as...
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Why do sika deer head to the alpine zone in Japan?

[caption id="attachment_2819" align="alignright" width="300"] Alpine meadow, Mount Kitadake 1980.The attractions of Japan’s Southern Alps include dense evergreen coniferous forests and alpine meadows full of blooming globeflowers (or Trollius japonicus). These areas have been likened to an earthly paradise. In recent years however, sika deer have moved into this alpine zone. With them grazing on the rare plant community there is a danger that these alpine meadows, a symbol of the rich mountain environment, will disappear.Meadows vanishA questionnaire survey conducted in 1984 found that there were virtually no sika deer breeding in the northern part of the Southern Alps. Then, in the 1990s the sika deer quietly began to use the evergreen coniferous forests of Veitch's silver fir and Maries fir in the subalpine zone, as well as the Erman's birch forests and herbaceous communities. By the early 2000s the sika deer had encroached further into the subalpine zone and settled there,...
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The cold does not bother her anyway

[caption id="attachment_2783" align="alignright" width="300"] Gunjan Silwal, 29, during a research expedition to Yala glacier.On her desk, Gunjan Silwal is engrossed in her computer, analyzing glacier mass balance data, working on figures and graphs which to the untrained eye look rather like scribblings on a toddler’s drawing book. To the trained eye, however, these are essential records of how much mass has been added or lost over the years on Yala glacier. The one she is working on is for the annual mass balance of the glacier from 2014 to 2015.When Gunjan is finally done with her analysis, she will begin to prepare for yet another field expedition to the glacier. Come April, Gunjan and her peers will head up to Yala glacier to collect spring data.Gunjan, 29, joined the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD)’s Cryosphere Initiative in 2016 as a research associate. She has spent a substantial amount of...
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Sustainable Tourism in the Daisetsuzan National Park

[caption id="attachment_2725" align="alignright" width="300"] Fig. 1: Mount Asahi-dake (2,291 m), the highest peak in DNP, in the foreground, and the Ohachi-daira caldera in the center (Photo: TW)Daisetsuzan National Park (DNP), located in central Hokkaido, a northernmost island of Japan, is Japan’s largest national park (226,764 hectares). Residents in the city of Sapporo with 2 million populations can access the park area in 2.5 to 3 hours by car, and can enjoy hiking/trekking and hot springs in the park’s volcanic landscape (Fig. 1). In spite of its close location to such a large city and in site of the large number of visitors, DNP is home to densely populated brown bears.New challenges are now emerging and addressed in DNP. Among them are offering learning opportunities to visitors and involving local stakeholders in the park management. However, most information is available only in Japanese, as most research publications (>2,800 in total) are written...
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An All-Woman Climbing Team in the Andes

[caption id="attachment_2716" align="alignright" width="300"] Ascending Chachacomani (source: Griselda Moreno)Mujer Montaña—“Woman Mountain” in Spanish—participated in a recent project of the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation (UIAA), in which women climbers from Latin America and Europe carried out ascents of peaks in two mountain ranges in the Bolivian Andes. They established mountaineering records, achieving first all-female ascents and opening new routes. They met another goal as well,  promoting exchanges between people of different cultures and worldviews. And, in their distinctive way, they built awareness of mountains in the context of climate change—a key goal of the UIAA’s Mountain Protection Award Platform, which supported the project.This post was originally posted last year on the GlacierHub.org by Ben Orlove.This project, supported by a number of government agencies and tourism firms in South America and Europe, brought together the members of Mujer Montaña, a Latin American group founded in 2013, with representatives of the Women’s High Mountain Group of the French...
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A story of hotspots and stepping stones

[caption id="attachment_2683" align="alignright" width="300"] A typical subarctic mountain trail, winding through a blueberry field (Vaccinium myrtillus).Predicting the faith of exotic plant species in cold-climate mountainsAbisko, a small village north of the polar circle in Swedish Lapland. The origin of several mountain trails, winding through the pristine subarctic vegetation towards the breathtaking views at the top. A vegetation mostly consisting of slow-growing mosses and dwarf shrubs that seem to have been there forever. Yet during the last few years or decades, changes in this vegetation increasingly start to become apparent: several new species that are traditionally not a part of the subarctic vegetation are popping up along the trails. Clovers, common yarrow, sweetgrass or annual meadow grass, species that are typical residents of the milder parts of Europe, are now getting a foothold even here, in the high north. They border the trails, grow in the roadsides, line the buildings at the...
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Into the Hidden Valley: On a Quest for High Mountain Data

[caption id="attachment_2673" align="alignright" width="300"] Collecting snow samples to analyze black carbon deposition on Rikha Samba (Photo: Chytapten Sherpa/ Expedition team) I assume most glaciologists would have interesting stories to share about their work: the experience of studying glaciers, their research findings, and their line of work in general. But while we’re in the field, carrying on a conversation is last thing on our minds.  Most recently, I travelled to Rikha Samba for the annual 2016 autumn expedition along with two of my senior colleagues. Three other researchers from our national project partners: two from Kathmandu University, and one from the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, the Government of Nepal were also with us. We set out in early October when the winter cold hadn’t yet set in. Our main objective was to monitor the glacier mass balance stake network, conduct a differential Global Positioning System (dGPS) survey of attitudinal and cross-sectional...
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Mountain forests don’t need humans – but we need them

Forests in the mountain regions of our planet are fragile ecosystems, suffering from the impact of climate change. However, to survive in the long-term, these ecosystems do not need human intervention. It is rather the humans in the mountain regions who depend on healthy forests and the protection they provide. Should we, for example, plant genetically-modified tree species that are particularly resistant to drought, to ensure that mountain forests thrive in the future? This is no joke, but one of the many ideas on how mountain forests should be managed in future, hotly debated at the latest ETH Sustainability Summer School (see box). Thirty-two students from 17 countries and 14 disciplines took an in-depth look at suggestions such as these, which may seem absurd at first glance. Wooden tripods protect saplings from snow in the Tamina valley (Image: ETH Sustainability / ETH Zurich)All that mountain forests provide  Mountain forests are more...
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Austrian Glacier Serves As Site for Mars Simulation

[caption id="attachment_2645" align="alignright" width="300"] Analog astronauts walking on a glacier in Austria (source: Österreichisches Weltraum Forum/Flickr).A manned mission to Mars is one step closer to becoming a reality thanks to a remote glacier in western Austria known mostly for its surrounding ski slopes and snow-capped mountain vistas.This post was originally posted last year on the GlacierHub.org by Ashley Chappo.The Kaunertal Glacier, located in the Tyrol state of Austria, recently served as a field site to test a mission of human researchers on Mars. A report detailing the findings of the analog mission was published in Acta Astronautica in September by Gernot Groemer, et al. The AMADEE-15 mission, coordinated by the Austrian Space Forum and 19 partner nations, lasted for 12 days in August 2015, during which a carefully chosen team of researchers performed selected experiments under realistic Martian surface conditions.But the glacier mission was not just a bunch of scientists playing pretend in an...
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Wild Nettle - a history and empowerment for women

[caption id="attachment_2632" align="alignright" width="300"] The Wild Nettle Plant grows about 6ft-7ft tall.Reminiscing a conversation with her grandmother, Kala Kumari, a Kulung woman said, “according to our grandmother the first plant we ate was nettle and during a time of which lasted for a year in the 70’s, we survived because of nettle.”Nettle plant grows throughout Nepal. The Kulung community values nettle both as plant and fabric. Nettle fabric also has a long tradition in the Kulung community. The skills of making nettle fabric have been passed on from women to women through generations. It also holds a spiritual significance with birth and death as the community uses the cloth made from nettle fabric to cover a new-born baby as well as a deceased body.[caption id="attachment_2633" align="alignleft" width="300"] Once the bark is removed, the Wild Nettle gets processed by boiling it for several hours to soften it.In the district of Sankhuwasabha, where...
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Species on the move

[caption id="attachment_2601" align="alignright" width="300"] Recent climate change is affecting a fragile balance, and the ball just started rollingThe world’s climate is changing rapidly. There, I said it! A statement backed by scientific evidence that keeps piling up, day by day. Yet, what is perhaps even more important: the impact of this changing climate on our world are now undeniably starting to surface as well. From the damaging effect of extreme weather events, over the slow-yet-steady rise of sea levels to the changes in the distribution of countless species; climate change is happening under our very eyes.Concerning the latter, an impressive recent review in Science (Pecl et al., 2017) has bundled all these observed biodiversity redistributions, highlighting why we should care about them. And that last fact might be even more interesting, because at first sight, it might be not more than a scientific triviality if organisms are heading north or up in the mountains.[caption id="attachment_2603"...
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The Mountains 2018 Conference

Mountains 2018 is an international conference that will bring together scholars, professionals, policy makers and others involved with multiple aspects of the mountain world. The Conference seeks to stimulate and disseminate knowledge about the topic based on lessons learned from scientific research and practical experiences related to use and challenges of promoting sustainable development in mountain territories, including how mountains can contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals. Mountains 2016, the first of the series, occurred in Bragança, Portugal (http://cimo.esa.ipb.pt/mountains2016/). One of the outcomes of this event was the launching of the Lusophony Mountain Research Network – Lumont  (http://cimo.esa.ipb.pt/LuMont/index.php/pt/) to encourage exchange among Portuguese speaking members. The establishment of this network provided additional support for Brazil to organize the next Conference. As a result, Mountains 2018 will take place, in Nova Friburgo, located in the mountain region of the state of Rio de Janeiro, on December 11th-15th.In Nova Friburgo, high-altitude tropical climate...
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Creating ClimateWIse

[caption id="attachment_2537" align="alignleft" width="300"] Figure 1. Goat traffic on the voyage from Lima to the town of HuamantangaAfter a gripping five-hour drive, winding over skinny mountain roads through goat traffic, we arrive in the tiny town of Huamantanga (Fig. 1). The water that flows through this town eventually ends up in Lima, Peru, and Huamantanga is one of the first community partners to work with AquaFondo - Lima’s water fund. Like other water funds, AquaFondo works with rural communities to support watershed conservation and restoration to secure clean and ample water supplies for both up and downstream water users. It turns out the community of Huamantanga and the city of Lima have one major thing in common: they both face water shortages in the dry season.Building on the work of a local NGO, Alternativa, AquaFondo, CONDESAN, and Huamantanguinos came up with two innovative solutions. First, they’re restoring ancient pre-Incan in ltration...
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Two new research organizations in mountain studies have been established in Japan during the cherry blossom season

April might be the most important month in the Japanese year, not only because of the cherry blossom season but for starting a new semester. In April 2017, two new research organizations have been established regarding mountain studies in Japan - “Master degree program of mountain studies” and “Mountain Science Center (MSC)”. After a Japanese Alps inter-university Cooperation Project (JALPS) in 2010-2014, the scientists involved sought to establish an educational and research framework to coordinate and activate mountain studies in Japan.  After tremendous efforts for agreements among universities and negotiation with the ministry of education, science, culture, sports and technology, the two functions were finally approved by the University of Tsukuba.[caption id="attachment_2502" align="alignleft" width="300"] (Fig. 1) Kick-off symposium of MSC (March 21, 2017)The master degree program is composed of multiple science fields related to the mountain sciences through the collaboration of four national universities: the University of Tsukuba, Shinshu University, Shizuoka...
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LuMont – The Lusophony mountain research network meeting: a common research agenda for mountain areas in Portuguese speaking countries

LuMont, the Lusophony Mountain Research Network, met physically for the first time on October 7, 2016, in Bragança, Portugal. This was a very expected meeting since LuMont was until this date mostly a virtual network with general goals and objectives set by CIMO, the Mountain Research Centre at the Polytechnic Institute of Bragança, who lead the process. The Lusophony Mountain Research Network had as goals the promotion of information flow among researchers and research institutions dedicated to mountains, and the creation of more and better opportunities for research partnerships, projects, grants, educational programmes, and other initiatives. Apparently modest, this is not an easy goal to achieve due to the spread of the researchers in the network over a number of countries in several continents and the diverse economic and development contexts where research takes place.[caption id="attachment_2461" align="alignleft" width="300"] Participants at the LuMont meeting in Bragança, Portugal, October 7 2016.LuMont was launched in...
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Ecological Calendars and Climate Adaptation in the Pamirs

What are Ecological Calendars? [caption id="attachment_2436" align="alignleft" width="300"] Figure 1. ECCAP Logo, designed by Navajo Artist, Natani Notah, andKarim-Aly Kassam.Calendars enable us to anticipate future conditions and plan activities. Ecological calendars keep track of time by observing seasonal changes in our habitat (Fig. 1). The nascence of a flower, emergence of an insect, arrival of a migratory bird, breakup of ice, or last day of snow cover - each is a useful cue for livelihood activities, such as sowing crops, gathering plants, herding animals, hunting, fishing, or observing cultural festivals.[caption id="attachment_2435" align="alignright" width="300"] Figure 2. Gathering fodder in Guddara. Photo: Karim-Aly Kassam.Many human communities have developed unique and reliable systems to recognize and respond to climatic variability (Fig. 2). Over the course of multiple generations living in particular landscapes, people have accumulated knowledge of the relational timing of celestial, meteorological and ecological phenomena. Historically, these diverse ecological calendars enabled communities to...
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Poleka Kasue Mountain Observatory, Los Nevados Natural Park, Colombia

[caption id="attachment_2405" align="alignleft" width="300"] Lupinus alopecuroides and Senecio isabelis individuals on a steep slopein the Lupinus Valley, north face of Poleka Kasue/Santa Isabel Nevado.In the heart of the Colombian Andes lies the magical Los Nevados Natural Park, one of the few places on Earth that has the unique and fascinating páramo ecosystem. The páramo is home to a great variety of plants and wildlife, many of them endemic to this environment. Hundreds of people live in Los Nevados, thousands of tourists visit the park every year, and a million people drink from its waters in the lowlands. The overwhelming peacefulness and beauty of the park immediately enchants. Unfortunately, we have seen changes in Los Nevados that have made us question how we can preserve something we do not fully understand. We began a research initiative, the Poleka Kasue Mountain Observatory, to preserve the valuable páramo ecosystem and to make the magnificence...
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P3: People, Pollution, and Pathogens— Mountain Ecosystems in a Human-Altered World

Trouble in Paradise [caption id="attachment_2382" align="alignleft" width="300"] Figure 1. Lake Acherito (Ibon Acherito) on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees. The lake harbors several amphibian species, including the endemic Calotriton asper. It is located at 1900 m elevation, and is the first site in the Pyrenees for which Bd was reported.We just had arrived in the French Pyrenees. The beauty of the Pyrenees was stunning, somehow reminiscent of the mighty Canadian Rockies in its wildness and remoteness. We marveled at the sharp peaks, clear waters and wonderfully green vegetation, and pondered the multitude of research threads we could explore in such a setting. As we discussed our priorities, a colleague mentioned Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. This unpronounceable jumble of letters represents one of the most devastating amphibian diseases, and perhaps the single biggest threat to frogs, toads and salamanders. Bd, our colleague told us, had taken hold in the beautiful mountain watersheds of...
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Ecological and Socioeconomic Impacts of Climate-Induced Tree Diebacks in Highland Forests

Background [caption id="attachment_2340" align="alignleft" width="300"] Figure 1. Entomologists sampling stands of Norway spruce dieback in the Bavarian Forest National Park, Germany. Photo: Heiner M.-Elsner.Mountain forests play a major role in the preservation of biodiversity and provide important ecosystem services such as climate regulation. However, some of these forests show extensive tree mortality (“forest diebacks”) caused by a combination of factors, such as severe and recurrent summer drought, pollution, and insect and pathogen outbreaks. Some of the most spectacular cases of forest diebacks are caused by bark beetle outbreaks, which have killed millions of hectares of conifer forests worldwide (Fig. 1).Forest diebacks are expected to become more widespread, frequent and severe. Indeed, warm and dry climate conditions increase the number of bark beetle generations per year and decrease tree vigor. Diebacks are accompanied by changes in tree species composition, which can happen either by natural regeneration or by artificial replacement with better-adapted...
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A field guide that unravels the hidden secrets of the páramo

[caption id="attachment_2315" align="alignleft" width="300"] Monitoring of meteorological variables in the Quinuas River Ecohydrological Observatory. (Photo credit: Galo Carrillo-Rojas)Can you imagine transporting to a magic realm full of beauty, nature and good vibe and being able to unravel its hidden secrets? Well, in the field guide attached to this post you will be taken to a short journey through two Ecohydrological Observatories in the páramo, where a bunch of enthusiastic and motivated young researchers have overcome the struggles of the environmental conditions in these sites located at the top of the Andean mountain range to discover its most hidden secrets. These pioneer investigators have provided answers to some simple but highly relevant questions in our days, such as: How much does it rain in the páramo? How does elevation influence climate in the Andean Highlands? How much do soils and vegetation evapotranspire? What is the origin, age and fate of water in...
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Naubise farmer finds relief in climate smart practices

[caption id="attachment_2301" align="alignleft" width="300"] Sita Neupane showcases her freshly harvested cucumbers grown without the use of chemical pesticides. (Ramdeo Sah/CEAPRED)Farmer Sita Neupane is the talk of the town this summer. Ms Neupane earned a whopping NPR 70,000, selling cucumbers from her vegetable patch that roughly spans 375 square metres. And, she did it all without using any chemical pesticides on her vegetable farm in Naubise, Mahadevstan-7 of Kavre Palanchowk District, Nepal. Ms Neupane attributes her success solely to Jholmal – a homemade bio-fertiliser and bio-pesticide.Naubise, like many other villages in Kavre, is known for a high incidence of pesticide use. As with many mountain farmers across the Hindu Kush Himalayan region, farmers here own small land parcels, rely heavily on chemical pesticides, and have limited knowledge about integrated pest management (IPM). A dry spell hit Kavre, last year. No rain fell in September, and the largely agricultural district suffered from high...
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'Mountains 2016' dedicated to Mountains’ vulnerability to climate change

It has been more than two months since Mountains 2016 took place in Bragança, Portugal. The outcomes and impacts of the conference were many and all of them significant. Mountains 2016 included the X European Mountain Convention (X EMC), dedicated to “Mountains’ vulnerability to climate change”, and the 1st International Conference on Research for Sustainable Development in Mountain Regions (1st ICRSDMR), dedicated to “Ecosystem services and sustainable development”.  X European Mountain Convention The X EMC (3 to 5 October 2016) brought to Bragança around 260 mountain actors (researchers, farmers, environmentalists, elected representatives from local and regional authorities, representatives of chambers of commerce and development agencies) to debate climate change adaptation in mountain areas. The X EMC presented a state-of-the-art of climate change in mountain areas in Europe from scientific, institutional and financial perspectives and, most importantly, promoted a broad debate on how people and particular mountain sectors can deal with climate...
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The Other White Mountains: A Window into the Boreal Future

“The field”. “Fieldwork”. Those phrases have magic in them, of more than one kind. The modern kind is we put that phrase in email autoresponders and it seems to absolve diverse failures. Apparently, others have patience for something that is becoming increasingly rare – time for fieldwork, time to go get the data from the big “out there”. But there’s another kind, the kind that implies some nostalgia for a time when more than a few scientists did everything, including writing their papers, in “the field”. Some immersed themselves for years in the processes they were studying “out there”. Not many of us do that for any meaningful length of time anymore.[caption id="attachment_2240" align="alignleft" width="300"] Figure 1. White Mountains burns. 2004fires burned hundreds of thousands of acres in this part of AlaskaThis trip, on the way to “out there”, and as if to remind me of the opportunity before me, the...
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