VCE's Mountain Projects

share

Mountains are a rugged and ancient feature of the northeastern landscape, yet mountain ecosystems are among the most sensitive indicators of environmental change. High-elevation habitats are often more susceptible than lowlands to the effects of climate change, atmospheric pollution, and adverse land use practices. Since they are simultaneously durable and fragile, mountains constitute a symbol of our strength and a gauge of our vulnerability.

The small size and isolation of mountaintops impose constraints on organisms with limited mobility, including conservation biologists. VCE has long overcome the practical difficulties of high-elevation field research with the help of collaborators, volunteers, and our own determination to unravel the mysteries of mountain ecology.

Mountain Birdwatch

Mountain Birdwatch (MBW) monitors songbirds that breed in the montane fir forests of the Northeast. Its the only region-wide source of population information on high-elevation breeding birds here. MBW’s primary focus is Bicknell’s Thrush, a montane fir specialist that breeds only in the northeastern U.S. and adjacent areas of Canada, but it also tracks nine other bird species, red squirrel populations (major predator of songbird nests) and the evergreen tree seeds that they eat. Learn more »

Mountain Songbird Research and Conservation

Montane forests of the Northeast support a distinctive bird assemblage and are threatened by airborne pollutants and development. We initiated studies of Bicknell's Thrush and other birds over 20 years ago to assess their conservation status. Related research has included studies of behavior, mercury levels, development impacts, and population monitoring and ecology. Our findings have been applied throughout the Northeast in the management of forests, ski areas, and development. Learn more »
bicknell's thrush

International Bicknell's Thrush Conservation Group

In response to heightened conservation concerns for Bicknell’s Thrush, a coalition of scientists and natural resource managers met during the fall of 2007. The International Bicknell’s Thrush Conservation Group held its inaugural meeting with 25 people attending from five northeastern states and two Canadian provinces. The group’s overall charge is to develop and implement a Conservation Action Plan for Bicknell’s Thrush, which was finalized and released in 2010. Learn more »

Alpine Butterflies

Perched atop New Hampshire’s Presidential Range above treeline are two butterflies that exist nowhere else. The White Mountain Arctic and the White Mountain Fritillary are subspecies endemic to these 4 square miles of alpine habitat. We took the first hard look at the conservation status of these two butterflies for the White Mountain National Forest management plan. Today, we're continuing to examine the ongoing health of these populations with baseline population monitoring. Learn more »