Truly high altitude aquatic ecosystems are found primarily at lower latitudes: vast regions in the tropical part of the Andes, the Himalayas and Tibet, considerable areas in East Africa, and minor zones of Oceania. However, despite their abundance in these regions, their biology and ecology has never been summarized in detail. A current synthesis of the topic is therefore timely. High altitude waters are ideal systems with which to address a broad range of key and
topical themes in ecology, both at the regional and global scales. From specific functional adaptations of aquatic species to harsh environmental conditions through to global diversity patterns along altitudinal gradients and extinction risks of mountain populations due to vanishing glaciers,
ecological patterns and processes found in high altitude waters are both diverse and singular. Although poorly considered in classical textbooks of ecology and limnology, high altitude waters have much to offer existing (aquatic) ecological theories and applications. These often threatened and exploited habitats are also ideal for studying the intimate interactions between social and ecological systems that characterize the majority of ecosystems in the Anthropocene.
Dr. Dean Jacobsen has a permanent position as Associate Professor in freshwater ecology at the Freshwater Biological Section, Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Since 1994 he has been doing a large part of his research in Andean streams in Ecuador, in addition to projects in other high places such as Bolivia, Peru, and Tibet. His work has focused on biodiversity, community ecology, eco-physiology, bio-assessment, climate change, and glacial influence, with benthic fauna as a model system. He has published more than 100 peer-reviewed papers, book chapters, popular dissemination, and reports. Dr. Olivier Dangles has a permanent position as a director of investigations in ecology and development at the French Institute for Research and Development (IRD). He has a broad interest in community ecology, biodiversity conservation, and sustainable development in both natural and cultivated systems. Over the last ten years, he has focused his research on biodiversity dynamics in the face of climate change in the tropical Andes, mainly Ecuador and Bolivia where he has worked for 9 and 2 years, respectively. He has more than 100 publications in peer-reviewed journals and has contributed to 3 books.