Disappearing Kilimanjaro snow—Are we the last generation to explore equatorial glacier biodiversity?

Krzysztof Zawierucha, Daniel H. Shain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Glaciation accompanied our human ancestors in Africa throughout the Pleistocene. Regrettably, equatorial glaciers and snow are disappearing rapidly, and we are likely the last generation who will get to know these peculiar places. Despite the permanently harsh conditions of glacier/snow habitats, they support a remarkable diversity of life ranging from bacteria to animals. Numerous papers have been devoted to microbial communities and unique animals on polar glaciers and high mountains, but only two reports relate to glacial biodiversity in equatorial regions, which are destined to melt completely within the next few decades. Equatorial glaciers constitute “cold islands” in tropics, and discovering their diversity might shed light on the biogeography, dispersal, and history of psychrophiles. Thus, an opportunity to protect biota of equatorial glaciers hinges on ex situ conservation. It is timely and crucial that we should investigate the glacial biodiversity of the few remaining equatorial glaciers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8911-8918
Number of pages8
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


  • biodiversity lost
  • cold hotspots
  • equator
  • ex situ conservation
  • ice
  • psychrophiles


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