Nope, although I’m from Ohio, I don’t mean to the Midwest. In less than one week I’ll be moving to Cusco, Peru, to begin collecting data for my dissertation research. To be more accurate, I will be above the limits of cultivation. Not even potatoes grow at 5000 meters above sea level.
In any case, every month for a full year I’ll venture into a remote mountain range called the Cordillera Vilcanota, which is located about 100 km south of the ancient Inca capital of Cusco. The Vilcanota is home to the highest known amphibian species in the world, and because of climate change, is experiencing rapid environmental changes. New aquatic ecosystems are forming behind the trailing edge of mountain glaciers. Warming temperatures force the ice upslope, and the meltwater collects in ponds in the newly exposed moraines. Although tropical deglaciation provides some of the most obvious evidence of climate change, some of the environmental effects of change are positive for the aquatic organisms that can colonize these new habitats. However, as the glaciers continue to retreat, a major water source for these ponds and wetlands will be lost. Are the new ecosystems created by climate change doomed by continued climate change? Are aquatic amphibians migrating up mountains into an ecological trap?
I invite you to follow my blog. We’ll find out together!