The Alpine Marmot Project

Welcome to the Alpine Marmot Project

Shared areas between recreationist and wildlife: toward an integrated management of mountain socio-ecosystem

Combining conservation and tourism development as well as different types of outdoor activities (e.g. hunting and non-consumptive activities) can be conflicting, which calls for a better understanding of socio-ecosystems from both the sociology and ecology sides. The rising presence of humans in natural areas can be an important source of disturbance for wildlife (modifying individual’s perceived “landscape of fear”). It can also result in a suite of modifications, such as physiological and behavioral responses, incurring energetic costs and changes in habitat use, with potential cascading consequences on ecosystems. These responses may however vary depending on the animal species, type of human activity, the behavior of people once in nature, and the intensity, predictability and spatial distribution of disturbances and other environmental change. Better grasping the expectations, attitude and perception of outdoor recreationists towards nature, wildlife and usage restrictions are determining for resolving conflicts between conservation of nature and the development of tourism. To move on towards the mitigation of potential conflicts, our interdisciplinary HUMANI project takes up the challenge of studying jointly recreationists (their practice and behavior, perception and representation) and wildlife, at the crossroad of the realms of sport sociology, geography, ecology and nature management.

Combining data collected on both outdoor activities users (hikers and hunters) and mountain most emblematic wildlife (chamois , ibex and marmots ​ Marmota marmota), we will:

(1) uncover the nature of possible conflicts among users, and between recreationists practices and wildlife conservation measures;

(2) identify and characterize the different values (intrinsic, patrimonial and instrumental) of emblematic mountain wildlife for recreationists;

(3) help understanding future changes in socio-ecosystem, accounting for the direct and indirect consequences of human presence on wildlife; and

(4) provide data and knowledge for managers of sites with different protection status to develop recreational activities and protection measures, accounting for the receptiveness and expectations of recreationists.

Our first results (in French)