Contribution starting at $2,900
Exported from Streamline App (
9 days (avg. $322 a day) Includes accommodations, food, and all related research costs
Climate Change

Wildlife in the Changing Andorran Pyrenees

Valley of Ordino, Andorra Map it
Activity Level
Very Active
Chef-prepared meals
A beautiful scenic view in the Andorran Pyrenees (C) Mathew Yee
A researcher removed a bird from a mist net while two participants look on (C) Caroline Dunn
Earthwatch participants measuring the width of a tree trunk (C) Caroline Dunn
A Fire salamander (Salamandra salamandra) in the grasses of the Valley of Ordino (C) Jana Marco
A researcher secures a camera trap on a tree trunk while a teen participant looks on (C) Amy Reggio
Earthwatch participants Black Pine and Scots pine seedlings as part of a tree seedling planting study (C) Dr. Bernat Claramunt
The team hikes through a meadow in the Valley of Ordino (C) Greg Schillo
A beautiful scenic view in the Andorran Pyrenees (C) Mathew Yee
A researcher removed a bird from a mist net while two participants look on (C) Caroline Dunn
Earthwatch participants measuring the width of a tree trunk (C) Caroline Dunn
A Fire salamander (Salamandra salamandra) in the grasses of the Valley of Ordino (C) Jana Marco
A researcher secures a camera trap on a tree trunk while a teen participant looks on (C) Amy Reggio
The team hikes through a meadow in the Valley of Ordino (C) Greg Schillo

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.

A teen participant blowing into a tube onto a table filled with pine needles (C) Dana Salomon. |. EarthwatchIn 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 started to decline. The ways humans use the land also cause 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 and 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 learn how animals are faring and how to protect key species best. 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 2–8 (spring, summer, fall teams):  Training on sapling techniques and activities, small and large mammal monitoring, bird monitoring, vegetation surveys, soil surveys
  • Day 9:  Departure




Your days in this stunning environment will vary. Sometimes, you’ll work at a research site close to home; 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:


Two women weighing a small mammal to track the health of vole, mouse, and shrew populations (C) Caroline Dunn
Monitor small mammals

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

A researcher measures a bird while a participant records the data onto a clipboard (C) Caroline Dunn
Track biodiversity

In each of the 12 sampling stations, you will check some of the more than 100 nest boxes for birds installed and monitor camera traps set up by the researchers.

A participant measures the length of a pine tree branch (C) Kyle Gaw
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, visit 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.



9 Reviews on this Expedition

If you have been on this expedition, others considering attending would love to hear about your experience.
Maureen Penman |
It is SUCH an opportunity, but I feel compelled to add this caveat to anyone considering enrollment: Honestly (but without judgment) assess your physical abilities AND your opportunities to meaningfully prepare before you commit. I live an active lifestyle and consider myself to be very fit, with hiking experience. I, however, live at sea level without access to hills on which to train, and I found the hikes, every day without exception, to be brutal, not just “good exercise” or “challenging” as recorded by earlier participants. 18 hours after arriving, we were heading up a mountain, so there was no time to acclimate to the elevation. We hiked between 4 and 6 hours most days to and from the site, and that does not include the additional hiking between data collection points. I was almost always steeply ascending or descending, sometimes on the trail, sometimes not, and my backpack—to be adequately prepared for the day—was considerably heavier than I anticipated. I went to sleep each night and awoke each morning with that same knot in my stomach, wondering how tough the day’s hikes would be. Had I truly known how strenuous this trip was going to be, I would have considered it beyond my skill set and found another expedition. Ultimately, I met the challenge thanks to the love, patience, and encouragement of my leaders and teammates, and it was a magnificent experience I will forever treasure.
Irene Moore |
This trip was my third one with Earthwatch. The first two trips I went on were chosen for me, and while I often didn't initially think it was a "cool" trip, it turns out every trip I've been on has been amazing, yet unique because in the end, the science is real, the scientists truly need our help getting the data, and Wildlife in the Changing Andorran Pyrenees was no exception. As advertised, this expedition is very active, but it's hard to beat a new reward view every single day—more than once I felt like I was in "The Sound of Music" and needed to burst out in song! If you love hiking, love learning, and want to be part of real science, this trip is for you.  The accommodations are the nicest I've stayed at on an Earthwatch trip (a hotel—not a research station or a tent); the food was outstanding and especially well thought out in the middle of the trip, and our rest day was organized as a historical and cultural museum visit of Andorra, and then in the afternoon was optional let loose in the town to shop and sightsee if we wanted (I ended up resting at the hotel). Read more about Irene's experience at
Paul Stout |
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.

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