Environmental Sciences 

Conservation of biodiversity: the large mammal community and the structure of bird community of Sagarmatha National Park (Solu Khumbu, Nepal) – Vanishing Tracks on the Roof of the World.
Principal investigator: Prof. Sandro Lovari – University of Siena, Department of Environmental Sciences

This project is aimed at understanding the dynamics of certain key populations in SNP, placing a particular focus on the endangered snow leopard and its main prey species.  In particular, analyses will be carried out on the population dynamics and reproductive biology of the Himalayan tahr and on the food habits, ranging movements and conservation of the snow leopard.  Efforts will also be made to understand patterns of livestock depredation by the snow leopard in the SNP. Communities of SNP birds will also be studied.

Researchers will carry out the following activities:
-    Point counts at dawn and playback counts on 3 species
-    Study the habitat features (vegetation cover, slope, hydrography, etc.)
-    Monitor the ear-tagged specimens darted in 2004-2005
-    Tag other specimens (25 males and 10 females)
-    Carry out monthly counts on: birth rate, death rate and immigration
-    Study the climatic effects on population dynamic
-    Scat analysis
-    Non-invasive genetic analysis for DNA
-    Satellite radio-tagging of 2 or 3 snow leopards
-    Questionnaire surveys for the local populations

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Habitat use and overlap of Himalayan musk deer ‘Moschus chrysogaster’ with reference to habitat quality and human use in Sagarmatha National Park, Nepal
Principal investigator: Achyut Aryal – Albert-Ludwigs University, Faculty of Forest and Environment.

The study will investigate habitat use of musk deer with reference to habitat quality and human use. The current status, distribution and possible population of musk deer in the SNP and Buffer Zone will be assessed and differences in diet conditions of Himalayan musk deer in disturbed and undisturbed areas will be analyzed.  To do so, biological analysis of vegetation and dung and pellets, and an analysis of pellets/dung distribution will be carried out.  Understanding habitat overlap and resource competition of musk deer with other ungulates is another aim of this study and a GIS habitat overlap map will be produced.  The general goal of this research is to assist the Government of Nepal in the long-term conservation and management of its endangered animal populations. 

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Demogenetic and demoecologic analysis of the Sherpa population from Khumbu Valley (Sagarmatha National Park
Principal investigator: Prof. Gianumberto Caravello - University of Padova, Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health, Hygiene Division.

The goal of this research is to reconstruct the biological origin and history of the Sherpa population presently living in the Khumbu Valley and in the neighboring areas. A genealogical study based on pedigree drawing of selected subjects, coupled with the analysis of family name distribution in the entire population will be complemented with a population genetic analysis of Y-chromosome STR polymorphisms and other autosomal markers. This study could significantly increase the strength of cultural affiliation and identification of these people. The expected results should provide a coherent picture of the demogenetic dynamic of the population and could serve as a model for improving the approach to the demoecologic studies of human communities. In addition, the collected data could serve to refine the evolutionary tree of the human Y-chromosome.

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Natural resource evaluation and sustainable development in Nepal: health, tourism and the environment
Principal investigator: Prof. Alberto Baroni - University of Padova, Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health, Hygiene Division.

The study team intends to expand their studies, carried out in SNP in past years, in the Manang Valley in order to evaluate the ecosystem health of the area in pretext of growing tourism and human impact. The study will mainly focus on the sustainability and quality of tourism in the area, and will evaluate various environmental and social parameters such as pollution, biodiversity, cultural contamination, etc. by integrated indicators and descriptors.
The following activities will be carried out during this study:
-   Examination of water samples quality through “Extended Biotic Index”;
-   Quantitative measurements of plants in quadrates laid at different altitudes and major tourist sites;
-   Examination of socio-economic conditions through interviews and secondary data (reciprocity, politics, demography and  emigration as well as income, profits, from many other economic action).

Research, study and the evaluation of environmental impact as a consequence of farming, zootechnical and tourist activity in the National Park of Sagarmatha (Himalayas)
Principal investigator: Prof. Fabrizio Luciani - University of Perugia, Department of Economy, Finance and Statistics.

The purpose of this research is to construct a model to evaluate the impact of human activity applied to similar environmental and territorial realities, in order to indicate the correct measures needed to maintain a correct and on-going process of development. The conclusions to be obtained from this study will further enrich the scientific knowledge regarding the economic and environmental planning and management of the territory, in turn contributing to advanced research in economic and political agriculture, at both the national and international level.

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