Environmental connectivity as the keystone to ecological restoration of degraded European mountains

Duration : 2020 - 2022
Research program : European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 893975
Geographic extension : Europe

Natural hazards
Soil Biology
Soil Management

Mountains in Europe are highly valued as they provide diverse living and recreational opportunities and unique landscape sceneries, are key economic assets, and because they are treasures of unique flora and fauna. Their vulnerable environment is, however, threatened by the frequent occurrence of shallow landslides and water erosion which produce large amounts of sediment during floods. The urgency to mitigate natural hazards calls for an improved understanding of how physical and biological dimensions of ecological restoration interact. Hence, the ECO-MOUNTAIN project proses an environmental connectivity framework as the keystone to the ecological restoration degraded mountains. A study area was selected in the Pyrenees, where I will benefit from the support of local stakeholders engaged the restoring degraded mountain slopes. Special focus is given to developing a novel sediment source fingerprinting method using environmental DNA (eDNA) as an organic tracer. As strong interrelations exist between vegetation, soils and geomorphology, plants leave an eDNA signature on sediments which reflects the degradation status of the area. It will allow to define erosion hotspots at unprecedented precisions and serve as a tool to monitor the impact of ecological restoration schemes in large catchments.