Mountain research

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Human-environmental relations in the Peruvian Andes.
Andorra la Vella, a mountain state's capital in the Pyrenees.
Paro Taktsang, a Himalayan monastery in Buthan.

Mountain research, sometimes called montology, traditionally also known as orology[1] (from Greek oros ὄρος for 'mountain' and logos λόγος), is an inter- and transdisciplinary field of research that regionally concentrates on the Earth's surface's part covered by mountain landscapes.


It is generally focusing on the description and explanation of the human-environmental relationship in (positive) and the sustainable development of (normative) mountain regions. Hence, mountain research is situated at the nexus of natural sciences, social sciences and humanities. Drawing on Alexander von Humboldt's work in the Andean realm, mountain geography and ecology are considered core areas of study; nevertheless important contributions are coming from anthropology, geology, economics, history or spatial planning. In sum, it applies an interdisciplinary and integrative regional approach comparable to research on the Arctic and Antarctic (polar research) or coasts (coastal research). Slaymaker summarizes:

The science of montology [...] starts with recognition of the importance of verticality, a distinctive feature of mountain regions, which imposes vertical control of the production system; marginality, which results from low agricultural potential; centrality of mechanisms of power and violence; population growth and expansion; and religion and myth, expressed in mountains as sacred places. Montology emphasises restoration ecology to include re-vegetation, rehabilitation, reclamation and recovery of the lost landscape form and function [...]. Landscape ecological effects are arranged along altitudinal belts and form the basis for a more comprehensive understanding of critical habitats for conservation and development. This approach has an underlying assumption of climax communities each fitting into a narrow altitudinal band. [2]


Mountain research or orology—not to be confused with orography—, is sometimes denominated montology; a term that was already included into the Oxford English Dictionary in 2002.[3] On the one hand, the term montology received criticism due to the mix of Latin (mōns, pl. montēs) and Greek (logos). On the other hand, however, this is also the—well accepted—case in several, already established disciplines such as glaciology or sociology.

Mountain research journals[edit]

The following list includes peer-reviewed journals that have a focus on interdisciplinary mountain research and are open to both the natural and the social sciences:

Mountain research journal list
Mountain Research and Development
Journal of Mountain Science
Journal of Alpine Research/Revue de géographie alpine
Bulletin de l’Institut français d’études andines

Further reading[edit]



  1. ^
  2. ^ Slaymaker, O. 2007: The potential contribution of geomorphology to tropical mountain development: The case of the MANRECUR project. In: Geomorphology 87 (1–2), pp. 90–100). DOI 10.1016/j.geomorph.2006.06.044
  3. ^