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Bellwether Grant

Nikwax Alpine Bellwether Grant Results Are In


In early 2009, Nikwax underwrote a grant through the American Alpine Club to study the impacts of global warming in high alpine environments. Tracie Seimon, a PhD at Columbia University, was awarded one half of the grant. She has just announced her results.

Seimon is a member of a team that has been studying the effects of global climate change in the Cordillera Vilcanota of southern Peru since 2000. The Nikwax Bellwether Grant helped the team fund a return expedition to the region. Seimon’s focus is monitoring high altitude amphibian populations.

She has documented amphibian populations at the highest elevation on record (5400-m, in Peru). As key indicator species, frogs and toads are leading barometers of healthy ecosystems. In high altitude studies, the presence of amphibians at high elevation can be a positive environmental indication, or can be a warning sign that warm temperatures and retreating glaciers have created opportunities for the species to colonize at unsustainable higher elevations.

The results of the Seimon’s study show that two populations of amphibians have dropped dramatically since 2003. Seimon recommends a re-evaluation of the threat status of one genus, and suggests a captive breeding program to prevent extinction in the region. The other key result, which necessitates further study, is the broader phenomenon of landscape change, which seems to be allowing for the upward migration, and eventual demise, of frog and toad populations. Seimon asserts that glacial melt initially contributes to the formation of new ponds capable of maintaining aquatic life. However, the continued ice recession means less melt water goes to sustaining the ponds and the species that inhabit them.

To read the Seimon’s full report, please visit:

Nikwax is proud to support scientific research that increases our understanding of global climate change and has potential to make a significant difference in protecting at-risk ecosystems.

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