Ecology, Behaviour and Evolution
The interactions between mountain ungulate species, environment and other species inhabiting it, including humans and livestock, are particularly relevant both for evolutionary biology and for conservation. Rapid changes currently occurring in mountain environments around the world offer a unique opportunity to investigate the response of wild species to environmental changes, including the return of large predators to many areas of the world, and to shed light on possible changes in selective pressures. Moreover, despite the ecology of some mountain ungulates is relatively well-known, for many others we still lack basic information essential for their conservation. This session aims to share new discoveries on the ecology and behaviour of mountain ungulate species and subspecies. For example, we seek presentations focusing on life history, population dynamics, spatial behaviour, diet, physiology, adaptations to changing environment, within- and between-species interactions, predation, competition.
The continuous development of molecular techniques gives new insights on wild species evolution and offers powerful tools to inform conservation. The aim of this session is to present new discoveries on genetics of mountain ungulates. We encourage presentations on the following topics: development of new molecular tools, conservation genetics, hybridisation, immunogenetics, genomics.
Systematics and Palaeontology
Systematics of wild species is constantly revised according to new discoveries on the genetics of mountain ungulates, and we therefore call for talks presenting new knowledge on this subject, obtained through an integration of palaeontological and molecular data. Among others, the intended topics covered by this session are: revised systematics, functional morphology, palaeontological evidence, phylogenetic reconstructions, ancient DNA.
Health and Diseases
Diseases are important drivers of population dynamics and evolution of wild species as they affect the health status of animals and may result in strong selection, drastic reductions of population size, and local extinction. From a conservation perspective, the spread of zoonotic infections may threaten species conservation through indirect effects, such as calls for the extirpation of wild populations to preserve human health or economic activities. This is particularly relevant for mountain ungulates sympatric with livestock and human activities.
The aim of this session is to share knowledge on health and disease of mountain ungulate populations with particular focus on conservation-relevant discoveries. Possible topics are health status of populations, effects of diseases on population dynamics, emergence of new pathogens, immunogenetics, management of zoonotic and major disease outbreaks, macro parasites as markers of climate change.
Conservation and Management
Most mountain ungulate species interact with humans. Those interactions range from simple coexistence to competition for resources (e.g. with livestock), hunting, introduced species and active conservation actions such as translocations or population supplementation. Often, policy makers must make decisions that should be informed by rigorous scientific knowledge. In this section we encourage the presentation of research covering various aspects of mountain ungulate biology and ecology that have potential applications for conservation and management, as well as case studies where management was beneficial or detrimental to populations, as for instance trophy hunting. In addition, we encourage presentations on the role and use of indigenous and local knowledge for the conservation of mountain ungulates.
Several methods have been proposed to properly estimate population size of mountain ungulates populations across a variety of habitats. Actually, however, those methods are not yet fully integrated in the monitoring practice. We encourage presentations of methodological studies on mountain ungulates monitoring to promote a thorough discussion between researchers and managers in order to find solutions and trade-offs to incorporate good practices into routine monitoring protocols.
Methods in wildlife research have changed dramatically in the last decades due to the advent of new technologies. The spread of tools such as, for example, camera traps, sensors tags, drones, remote sensing, image and video interpretation, acoustic monitoring, coupled with machine learning techniques, allows to collect large amounts of data that can foster conservation. This session aims to share ideas on the applications of technologies to research and conservation of mountain ungulates.
A poster session is planned for the communication of research on all the above-mentioned topic as well as of research of local interest (e.g., results of local population monitoring), work in-progress, methods, new ideas.
1) The role of protected areas for the conservation of and research on mountain ungulates
2) Long term research on mountain ungulates (opportunities and challenges)
3) 25th meeting of the Alpine Ibex European Specialist Group GSE-AIESG