The Impacts of Skiing and Related Winter Recreational Activities on Mountain Environments

Impacts of Outdoor Winter Recreation on Alpine Wildlife and Mitigation Approaches: A Case Study of the Black Grouse

Author(s): Raphaël Arlettaz, Patrick Patthey and Veronika Braunisch

Pp: 137-154 (18)

DOI: 10.2174/9781608054886113010011


Outdoor winter recreation is exerting an increasing pressure upon alpine biodiversity. There is an urgent need to better understand the detrimental effects on wildlife in order to propose targeted mitigation measures. This chapter summarizes the main results of a still ongoing research about the impacts of outdoor snowsports on black grouse, a regionally declining bird species. Black grouse was chosen as a model species because, in the European Alps, it inhabits exclusively treeline ecosystems, where most outdoor winter activities take place. We investigated the physiological (stress and energetics) and behavioural (activity budget) responses of free-ranging radio-tracked black grouse to human disturbance in winter, while assessing demographic effects. We then modelled areas of conflict between black grouse and winter outdoor recreation, which resulted in spatially-explicit prescriptions for mitigating its impacts. We finally discuss various issues around practical implementation of winter refuges for Alpine black grouse conservation.

Keywords: Black grouse, conflict zones, demography and distribution, mitigation measures, modelling, physiological and behavioural responses, treeline ecosystems, winter refuges.

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