Changing landscapes and livelihoods in mountain regions 1

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: Mountain Geography Specialty Group, Biogeography Specialty Group, Cultural and Political Ecology Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Regent, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 4th Floor
Organizers: Aaron Groth, Cara Steger
Chairs: Peter Klepeis


Mountains are iconic sites of production and destruction, providing ecosystem services to over half the planet’s population (Liniger and Weingartner 1998, Korner and Oshawa 2005) while remaining disproportionally vulnerable to extreme events and global change. Mountains are characterized by steep vertical gradients of climate, complex hydrology, and often unique bio-cultural diversity that occur over relatively small spatial extents (Scherrer and Koerner 2010). Mountain dwellers have historically developed complex, spatially explicit knowledge of their landscape that allows them to live in highly variable mountain ecosystems (Dominguez et al. 2012); however, rapidly changing social, economic, and political contexts may inhibit the employment of traditional coping strategies, thus making mountain people more reliant on outside assistance (Klein et al. 2011, Yeh et al. 2014).
As complex, adaptive social-ecological systems, mountains are compelling landscapes for geographical research – a productive meeting place for human and physical geographers (Marston 2008). The ninth special issue of the Annals of the American Association of Geographers (March 2017), edited by Mark A. Fonstad, brought together 27 articles exploring the physical dynamics of mountain environments, coupled human-physical dynamics of mountains, and socio-cultural dynamics of different mountain regions. We seek to expand upon this work by inviting papers that synthesize or produce new knowledge of how mountain ecosystems respond to changing human activity, and similarly how humans are adapting to rapidly changing mountain landscapes. We will explore these issues through a variety of theoretical and methodological lenses.
Potential topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

- Climate change mitigation and adaptation, or social-ecological responses to climate change
- Vulnerability and resilience with respect to mountain hazards
- Collaborative or transdisciplinary approaches to studying and managing mountain ecosystems
- Cross-scale management of biodiversity and water resources
- Drivers and impacts of changes in land use, land tenure, and resource use
- Social and environmental consequences of infrastructure expansion and resource extraction


Dominguez, F., Rivera, E., Lettenmaier, D. P., and Castro, C. L. 2012. Changes in winter precipitation extremes for the western United States under a warmer climate as simulated by regional climate models. Geophysical Research Letters 39(5).

Fonstad, Mark A. (Ed.) SPECIAL ISSUE: Mountains. Annals of the American Association of Geographers 107(2).

Klein, J. A., E. Yeh, J. Bump, Y. Nyima, and K. Hopping. 2011. Coordinating environmental protection and climate change adaptation policy in resource-dependent communities: a case study from the Tibetan Plateau. Pages 423-438 Climate Change Adaptation in Developed Nations: From Theory to Practice. Springer.

Korner, C., and M. Oshawa. 2005. Mountain Systems. in R. S. Hassan, R.; Ash, N., editor. Ecosystems and Human Well-being: Current State and Trends. Island Press, Washington, D.C.

Liniger, H., and R. Weingartner. 1998. Mountains and freshwater supply. Unasylva (FAO).

Marston, Richard A. Presidential Address: Land, Life, and Environmental Change in Mountains. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 98(3): 507-520.

Scherrer, D. and Koerner, C. 2010. Infra‐red thermometry of alpine landscapes challenges climatic warming projections. Global Change Biology 16(9): 2602-2613.

Yeh, E. T., Y. Nyima, K. A. Hopping, and J. A. Klein. 2014. Tibetan pastoralists’ vulnerability to climate change: a political ecology analysis of snowstorm coping capacity. Human Ecology 42:61-74.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Sohrob Aslamy*, , Redefining the “border between two worlds”: waterscapes of dependency, development, and devotion along the Panj River in the Pamir Mountains of Tajikistan 20 8:00 AM
Presenter Cara Steger*, Colorado State University, Local and Scientific Perceptions of Environmental Change in the Ethiopian Highlands 20 8:20 AM
Presenter Qobiljon Shokirov*, University of Zurich, Transforming subsistence hunting knowledge and practices under radical socio-economic and political change 20 8:40 AM
Presenter Peter Klepeis*, Colgate University, Ethiopian Church Forests: a socio-religious conservation model under change 20 9:00 AM
Discussant Gregory Knapp University of Texas - Austin 20 9:20 AM

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