VULPES is a project funded by Belmont Forum which aims at evaluating the impact of past climate change on mountain ecosystems and their genetic diversity from around the world. VULPES is expected to forecast potential impacts of future climate change. Employing primarily existing fossil records from Morocco, Cameroon, China, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Brazil, VULPES will carry out a multi-disciplinary integration of quantified climate variables from fossil records, ancient and modern DNA (aDNA and mDNA), vegetation modeling, agent-based modeling and statistics. Our goal is to answer the overall question: "Are microrefugia the key to ecosystem sustainability in montane ecosystems under projected climate change?". This project will consider variability in mountain ecosystems across the last 21,000 years; a period of extreme natural climate change (e.g. transition from the last glacial period) and the more recent, increasing impact of humans. VULPES will evaluate the migration capacity of species, their potential in situ adaptation/response, ecosystem turnover through time, the tipping points that could lead to population extinctions, the rate of change and, ultimately, define a vulnerability index/threshold. This investigation will determine a global perspective on the effect of different climate types and changes on montane ecosystems encompassing semi-arid, tropical and temperate humid zones. Also included will be socio-ecological analyses regarding landuse, a key to establishing future food security. Combined, our assessments will enable optimised conservation policies for ecosystems, species and genetic resources. This product will be a valuable tool allowing local stakeholders to establish appropriate management strategies for the mitigation of climate and land use impacts on mountain ecosystems.


The combined pollen and speleothems proxy data indicate that the montane rainforest expansion during Heinrich Stadial 1 Event was triggered mainly by a less seasonal rainfall regime from the subtropics to the equatorial region.... more

Elgar Companion to Geography, Transdisciplinarity and Sustainability

Edited by Fausto O. Sarmiento, Department of Geography, University of Georgia and Larry M. Frolich, Miami Dade College, Wolfson, US

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Fausto Sarmiento, professor of mountain science in the Department of Geography, received the 2019 Barry Bishop Career Award in April during the annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers....

Final meeting of the VULPES project at the University of Cuenca, Ecuador. 11-15 March 2019.

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