We are EUROIBEX, an open, collaborative project to study the ecology of Alpine ibex (Capra ibex) across environmental gradients in order to understand how this species responds to specific conditions, such as habitat changes and impact of human activities. We aim to promote comparative theoretical and applied research into ibex behaviour and ecology at the European scale. Our open, bottom-up and cooperative structure helps spur proactive engagement of our members and assures that they are involved throughout all stages of research.
The Alpine ibex is a typical alpine species endemic to Europe. It inhabits open, rocky habitats at high altitudes above the tree line. In the early 19th century it was brought very close to extinction due to overhunting, with the only remnant source population being in the valleys of the Gran Paradiso massif. All current populations originate from reintroductions. Because of this and the ibex biology and ecology, the species shows a fragmented distribution and poor ecological connectivity. Further threads include climate change that is modifying the abiotic and biotic conditions of the ibex habitat.
The Alpine ibex is a good model species. Many wild ruminants of high conservation value share similar constraints. Therefore, the study of its behavioral adaptations provides important information about the ecology of alpine ruminants and their vulnerability to these changes. The network has close interactions with the ‘Ibex European Group’, established to monitor the conservation and population dynamics of this species in collaboration with the many scientific and management bodies dedicated to its conservation.