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The impact of high-altitude ski-runs on alpine grassland bird communities

Year of publication 2007
Author(s) Antonio Rolando
Co-authors Caprio, E., Rinaldi, E., Ellena, I.
Number of pages 10
Journal Journal of Applied Ecology
Page(s) 10
Magazine No. Volume 44 Issue 1
Publication type Journal article
According to a report compiled by ecologists at the University of Turin/I in the Journal of Applied Ecology, high-altitude alpine ski runs are posing a serious threat to bird communities. Compared with plots located in natural grasslands, plots located near ski runs not only supported a significantly lower bird density but also fewer bird species overall. Not a single bird was spotted in one third of the ski runs, and in areas adjacent to ski-runs, bird numbers were lower than in undisturbed areas.
To prevent further decimation among the bird population the researchers recommended the use of more environmentally friendly ways of constructing pistes. Instead of levelling the entire subsoil, the scientists proposed that only obstructing rocks be removed, and as much soil and natural vegetation as possible be preserved. Existing pistes should be restored to promote the recovery and maintenance of local vegetation, and provide a natural habitat for the birds.