Mountain gloom and mountain glory revisited: A survey of conservation, connectivity, and climate change in mountain regions

Charles Chester, Jodi A. Hilty, Lawrence S. Hamilton


Mountain regions have played a significant role in the history of biodiversity conservation, and promise to play an even larger part in future efforts to respond to climate change. After an historical overview of scientific research into mountain ecosystems, biodiversity conservation in mountain regions is examined in light of the ever-expanding research agenda on landscape connectivity and corridor ecology. An array of potential beneficial and deleterious effects of ‘wildlife corridors’ is then discussed, along with a description of the conceptual scientific underpinnings of wildlife corridors in the field of island biogeography, metapopulation dynamics, and landscape ecology. The effects of climate change on mountain ecosystems are then reviewed, focusing on the premise that the protection and restoration of corridors consti- tute the most comparatively effective prospect for protecting mountain biodiversity in the long term. We conclude that three distinct research communities—the mountain research commu- nity, the corridor ecology community, and the climate change community—will have to provide mutual support in answering four critical questions: (1) What do we need to know about mountain biodiversity and how it interacts with human communities in the mountains? (2) In what ways can the establishment of ‘on-the-ground’ corridors provide sufficient connec- tivity between ‘natural’ communities, species, and populations in mountain regions? (3) To what degree will anthropogenic climate change require us to modify our response to the first two questions? (4) How can we best build resilience into mountain ecosystems?

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Journal of Mountain Ecology
The Journal of Mountain Ecology is an OPEN ACCESS peer reviewed journal published by the Gran Paradiso National Park.