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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.



Sarmiento, F. O. (2020). Montology manifesto: echoes towards a transdisciplinary science of mountains. Journal of Mountain Science, 17(10), 2512-2527.

Mountains as archetype frame some meta-geographies of the vertical dimension. Mountain metaphors, thus, have remained as key guidance in developing not only animistic belief systems and religious cults, but also military strategies, economic potential, and scientific innovation. ..

El Hasnaoui, Y., Mhammdi, N., Bajolle, L., Nourelbait, M., Bouimetarhan, I., & Cheddadi, R. (2020). Locating North African microrefugia for mountain tree species from landscape ruggedness and fossil records. Journal of African Earth Sciences, 103996.

In order to optimize conservation policies for endangered plant species in North Africa and minimize the in­vestment of the public resources we explore the capacity of a mountain plant species to persist locally in restricted natural areas....

Edited by Fausto O. Sarmiento and Larry M. Frolich

With contributions from top geographers, this Companion frames sustainability as exemplar of transdisciplinary science (critical geography) while improving future scenarios, debating perspectives between rich North/poor South, modern urban/backwards rural, and everything in between. ...

Past Plant Diversity and Conservation

Eds: Cheddadi R, Báez S, Normand S, Payne D, Taberlet P & Eggleston S

Past Global Changes Magazine, vol. 28(1), 1-32, 2020

Conservation policies for preserving biodiversity under ongoing climate change require historical data and hindcasting models to better understand modern processes and more accurately predict potential future changes. This PAGES magazine issue is multidisciplinary and aims to highlight possible contributions of paleodata to conservation initiatives, as these data contain a wealth of information about past climate changes in terms of trends, abruptness, and velocity, and on plants' diversity down to their infraspecific level.

Migliore, J., Lézine, A. M., & Hardy, O. J. (2020). The recent colonisation history of the most widespread Podocarpus tree species in Afromontane forests. Annals of Botany.

Afromontane forests host a unique biodiversity distributed in isolated high-elevation habitats within a matrix of rain forests or savannahs, yet they share a remarkable flora that raises questions about past connectivity between currently isolated forests. Here, we focused on the Podocarpus latifolius–P. milanjianus complex (Podocarpaceae), the most widely distributed conifers throughout sub-Saharan African highlands, to infer its demographic history from genetic data.

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