To report a HELS sighting log in, to learn more about the HELS project, read on.
Some species of animals and plants exist primarily, sometimes exclusively, in the vicinity of tree-line in the upper sub-alpine eco-region. In 2009, Dr. Tony Clevenger coined the term HELS for High Elevation Localized Species and by 2010, Bow Valley Naturalists had included a page on our website though which anyone can enter observations of any of four identified HELS species — Hoary Marmot, Mountain Goat, Pika, White-tailed Ptarmigan — that they see or hear (pikas and marmots) while in the high country.
Before 2010, the distribution of HELS in this part of the Rocky Mountains was not documented in detail; little, if anything, was known about these species population trends or possibility of extinction. Even less is known about the corridors they require for connectivity between habitat patches, necessary for population viability. Barriers to dispersal have not been identified and, as a result, there have been no specific efforts to mitigate the effects of human activity or infrastructure, such as roads, which might impair or prevent movement.
Each of the four HELS species requires the cooler conditions of the higher elevations; it is anticipated that climate change will challenge the ability of each of these species to maintain persistent healthy populations in their current habitats.
“HELS” is a citizen science project. Every year the data submitted is cleaned and summarized and the results are made available through the HELS archive. Several researchers have found the information collected through this citizen science project reliable and useful.
Please share “HELS” with friends who visit the high country. All HELS observations are greatly appreciated. Thank you.