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Climate Change

Of Mountains and Marmots: Climate Change in the French Alps

How will marmots fare as climate change reshapes the French Alps? And what can they tell us about how humans will fare?


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The facts

Why the research is important

Why the research is important

10,000 years ago, marmots died out in another Alpine environment—the Pyrenees—due to rising temperatures (they have since been reintroduced). Help protect this population from meeting the same fate.

The Alpine marmot isn’t just charming to watch. It’s also a keystone species—one that plays a critical role in maintaining ecosystem balance.

Marmots matter. They foster plant diversity and are a main food for predators in their environment. Researchers know that climate has a huge impact on the breeding and survival rates of wild animals: it can mean the difference between a species thriving or going extinct. It’s critical to understand how these marmots will respond to climate change, not just because they are so important to the natural world of the French Alps, but also because Alpine regions feel the effects of climate change before many other environments. By investigating this key species, we hope to learn more about how all living species may respond to this major global shift.

Alpine marmot in the French Alps

Investigate how marmots are faring in the face of climate change.

Researchers on this project focus on the demography of Alpine marmots: in other words, they are learning how behavior, survival, breeding success, and population growth are affected by external factors, such as characteristics of the environment a species lives in, and internal factors, such as the sex and age of individuals. They also look at how marmots behave as their climate changes. By understanding these creatures, we may find ways to protect their population, and maybe even our own.

About the research area

Tignes, France, Europe & Russia

Daily life in the field

Itinerary

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The Scientists

MEET THE LEAD SCIENTIST

Aurélie
Cohas
Assistant Professor, Laboratory of Biometry and Evolutionary Biology, Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1

ABOUT Aurélie Cohas

Dr. Aurélie Cohas has always appreciated marmots. Now she’s an expert on how they live with each other and their Alpine environment.

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MEET THE OTHER SCIENTISTS

Accommodations and Food

Accommodations and Food

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