Contribution starting at $2,225
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7+ days (avg. $318 a day) Includes accommodations, food, and all related research costs
Climate Change

Wildlife in the Changing Andorran Pyrenees

Location
Valley of Ordino, Andorra Map it
Activity Level
Very Active
Accommodations
Single Rooms possible
Couples Rooms possible
Hotel
Internet access
Food
Chef-prepared meals
In the high slopes of the Andorran Pyrenees, as in other mountain regions, climate change has already begun to alter the landscape.
When captured to be ringed, samples of bird excrement of the two most abundant species (the Coal Tit and the Crested Tit) will be taken to analyse the DNA they contain to assess their diet.
Earthwatch volunteers measuring a tree
 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 help the scientists gather the data from dendrometers and help review gathered data at the accommodations.
Earthwatch teams will sample the abundance of resources at each of the sites
The team will hike with snowshoes each day to study areas and look for evidence of vertebrates.
In the high slopes of the Andorran Pyrenees, as in other mountain regions, climate change has already begun to alter the landscape.
When captured to be ringed, samples of bird excrement of the two most abundant species (the Coal Tit and the Crested Tit) will be taken to analyse the DNA they contain to assess their diet.
Earthwatch volunteers measuring a tree
 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 help the scientists gather the data from dendrometers and help review gathered data at the accommodations.
Earthwatch teams will sample the abundance of resources at each of the sites
The team will hike with snowshoes each day to study areas and look for evidence of vertebrates.

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.


Volunteer sorting specimens collected in the field

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.

 

A Typical Itinerary

  • Day 1: Arrival, introduction to research
  • Days 2-6 (spring, summer, fall teams): Training on sapling techniques and activities, small mammal monitoring, vegetation surveys
  • Days 2-6 (winter teams): Survey fauna with drone, search for Boreal Owl, assess bird diversity and abundance, track environmental conditions
  • Day 7: Departure

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
Monitor small mammals

Keep an eye on the health of vole, mouse, and shrew populations by capturing them, collecting measurements, and safely releasing them.

Track biodiversity
Track biodiversity

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
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.

In the late afternoon, the team will return to the hotel to rest, record data, and identify photos of animals taken by camera traps. Evenings will include a communal dinner and time to rest, see some local sites, or learn more about the research.

Field conditions and research needs can lead to changes in the itinerary and activities. We appreciate your cooperation and understanding.

FEEDBACK & QUESTIONS

Expedition Testimonials Views Block

7 Reviews on this Expedition

If you have been on this expedition, others considering attending would love to hear about your experience.
Paul Stout | September 30, 2019
This is simply an incredible project! Everything about it is amazing. It is the first project of its kind where I feel the field research team has assembled a comprehensive structure to gather data on the integrated web of life of an entire ecosystem, providing a baseline of data which can help us understand the interdependencies in a way that climate impacts can be more fully assessed. Plus, the field staff are such amazing people - vibrant, enthusiastic, committed, knowledgable, and with an unrestrained zeal not only for the work but also for working with volunteers. They were fabulous about making accommodations so that everyone could fully contribute based on their ability and interests. Like icing on the cake, the research sites themselves are distributed above, at, and just below the treeline at a dozen sites in the northern Andorran Pyrenees - which means lots of good exercise reaching them to gather data coupled with incredible views of those mountain peaks and valleys. The daily tasks are also very varied, which is great for a "shiny object" person like me. From capturing, tagging, and measuring small songbirds to collecting soil samples and buried tea bags (for decomposition rates) to measuring tree growth to maintaining nesting boxes to setting and collecting camera traps to setting and measuring small mammal traps, there is an abundance of activity to do every day. I definitely plan to come back and continue to help out with this amazing, valuable project.
Bindi Robertson | May 26, 2019
Such an amazing trip. Lots of stunning hiking around in the Alpine area. The researchers were always happy and helpful, very knowledgeable and hardworking. Nature is lucky to have them! Lots of fun stories were told over the lovely meals and tasty local wine. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and am considering the winter trip.
Kelsey Kosten | June 21, 2018
Andorra is a beautiful country. We hiked to different research sites and each one offered amazing views and landscapes. It was lovely to be able to spend time doing the research in these alpine environments, rather than just hiking to the top and then going down again. Bernat and his team were incredibly helpful and made the research engaging. Through studying nest boxes, mushrooms, camera traps, dendrometers, birds, and insect traps, there was an opportunity to try different types of activities and expand your knowledge. The researchers continually emphasized the importance of the project and made sure we understood how we were helping them! The accommodations were great! It was very comfortable and the pool was a nice way to relax. There was plenty of food and a nice variety of options. I also appreciated that the accommodations were so close to the research sites, after a long day of hiking it was nice to be able to get back in less than 15 minutes. Overall, it was an incredible experience!

Expedition Testimonials

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