Environmental change shows itself in countless small ways. Engage your powers of observation to discover evidence of these changes in one of the world’s most fragile and beautiful places.
In the high slopes of the Andorran Pyrenees, as in other mountain regions, climate change has already begun to alter the landscape. Some species are moving to higher latitudes, and some have begun to decline. The ways humans use the land also causes shifts in the natural order of things, but little research has been done on how people have impacted this particular place. Questions of how climate change and human encroachment continue to alter this alpine world need answers as local organizations work towards sustainable solutions.
While trekking through this striking landscape, you’ll be among the first to search for these answers. Not much is known about the amazing biodiversity of the forests and alpine meadows, and your team will help identify the key species in the ecosystem and how they are changing. You will weigh and measure small mammals, find boreal owls and other bird species by visiting their nest boxes and spotting them through binoculars. You will also study alpine flora, follow the growth of tree species, and detect bats. These tasks will help researchers find out how animals are faring, and how to best protect key species. Understanding the timing of such processes can help scientists learn if species’ life cycles are becoming out of sync with each other, which could have serious consequences for the health of this ecosystem.
HOW YOU WILL HELP
Your days in this stunning environment will vary. Sometimes you’ll work at a research site close to home, and on other days you’ll walk amidst the mountains at high elevations. Throughout the expedition, you’ll see much of the countryside, from wooded mountainsides to quiet valleys and open pastures. You will help:
MONITOR SMALL MAMMALS
Keep an eye on the health of vole, mouse, and shrew populations by capturing them, collecting measurements, and safely releasing them.
In each of the 12 sampling stations, you will take note of all the plants and animals you see, check some of the more than 100 nest boxes for birds and owls installed, and monitor camera traps set up by the researchers.
TREE GROWTH SURVEYS
assess the survival and growth of two species of planted pine trees, and collect measurements on the growth rates of trees at various elevations.