The mountains are calling

Me in Paltinis, near my hometown of Sibiu, Romania.

I’ve always seen drawn to the mountains. My family comes from the Carpathian Mountains of Romania, and our family name Munteanu literally means “from the mountains.”

Put a hill or mountain in front of me and I am compelled to climb to the top to see what’s up there. And I always scan to see any wildlife on my climb, or looking down into the valleys below. I’m curious about why wildlife are found where they’re found. And perhaps more curiously, where wildlife should be but aren’t.

Wildlife hate selfies, but I like them
Distribution map from Species at Risk registry

Take the wolverine for example. They used to be found all across Canada. We think of them as a boreal (northern) and mountain species because that’s where they’re found now. But they used to be found all across Canada. Even within the Rockies, they’re not evenly distributed—wolverines are more numerous in the Willmore Wilderness than in Kananaskis country. Why? Partly it’s because they’re shy of us humans, so they avoid areas where we are. Even if the habitat should be perfect for them.

Look ma! Climate change!
Original photo: Wheeler, 1901. Repeat photo: Mountain Legacy Project, 2011.

And so I’m excited to announce that I’m starting a Ph.D. that’s going to combine my love of mountains with my love of wildlife biology. I’m going to be looking at landscape change through time as part of the Mountain Legacy Project’s repeat photography project. And I’m going to look at wildlife community changes—how species may be co-occurring (or not) in response to those landscape changes. And of course, I’ll be including a SciComm dimension to this too, because of course I’m still intrigued by how we communicate about science. 😉

So bring on the pretty mountain photos, camera trapping, and a few scraped knees to come!

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