Field: Fauna
Duration: 2014 - in progress
Areas of interest: Trento, Lombardy
Partner institutions: University of Freiburg (D), MUSE - Science Museum of Trento (I)

The Alpine marmot is a widespread rodent in the Stelvio National Park, as in the rest of the Alps️. In addition to having an important cultural and touristic value, it has peculiar characteristics, both behavioral and physiological, that make it a particularly interesting subject as a study model. It is a highly social rodent, lives in families, and actively defends its territory represented by its den system.
It spends the winter months in hibernation inside its burrow from which it emerges only in spring; during the months of activity it maintains its semi-buried habits spending half of its time underground. Being a favorite prey of eagle and fox and its impact on the environment make it a good indicator of the state of the alpine ecosystem.
Estimating the abundance of the marmot is complicated, not only because of the behavioral characteristics mentioned above, but also because of the mountain environment where these animals live, irregular and sometimes harsh. The project active at the Park aims at comparing the performance of different estimation methods, highlighting their limits and advantages, and at investigating the response of populations to climate change.
Currently active in two sectors of the Park, the one in Trentino since 2014, at Val de la Mare, and the one in Lombardy, since 2016, at Val Cedec, the study of this species aims to be a long-term project.