About GLORIA Great Basin

Mountains are global symbols of inspiration, preservice, and our interconnection with the natural world. Being on the top of a mountain provides a unique perspective of both humanity and the flora and fauna with which we share the world. At the same time, these remarkable places are now some of the most imperiled ecosystems on the planet. While most species can respond to climate change by adjusting their ranges poleward or upward in elevation, mountaintop species already exist at their physical limit. Mountaintop communities may be the first entire ecosystem lost as a result of climate change and conserving this ecosystem in the face of climate change requires knowledge that we currently don’t have. This is urgent because the mountaintop ecosystems are shifting under us; what we understood only 5 years ago may no longer be true as the plants and animals are responding to changing climate. GLORIA Great Basin is a solution to this problem. By studying the long-term community responses of mountaintop plants to climate change as part of an international network, we provide information about this ecosystem that is vital in planning for its future.


We do this work by addressing another problem: the disconnect between citizens and science, allowing for many to discredit science when making their personal and political decisions. GLORIA Great Basin collects its data on mountaintops using teams composed of academics, government agency personnel, students, and citizen scientists in order to actively build partnerships and engage the citizenry in the scientific process. In order that future generations will have the chance to be transformed by these landscapes, we will almost certainly need to be proactive in managing them. GLORIA Great Basin provides the information that is vital for this management.


GLORIA (Global Observation Research Initiative in Alpine Environments) is a network and a methodology for surveying alpine summits that was developed by a central group in Austria. The main objective of this international collaboration is to asses global distributional shifts of alpine species in response to climate change. In 2004, CIRMOUNT established a North American GLORIA chapter and sponsored the establishment of the first GLORIA sites in North America in the White Mountains of California. Since then, 29 GLORIA summits in 8 target regions have been added in California and Nevada. We resurvey a rotating number of peaks in each range every 5 years, with a focus on collecting presence, abundance, and phenology data of alpine plants, but are also working with others to study how other important components of montane systems may also be changing.

Board Members

GLORIA Great Basin, is an organization that exists to support and help fund the GLORIA field work in California and Nevada. Since 2004, a number of agency partners, graduate students, botanists, and alpine enthusiasts have volunteered to help collect data for this collaborative project.

Brian Smithers,


Brian started as a volunteer with the GLORIA project in 2013, and has has been co-directing GLORIA Great Basin operations since 2017. He is Research Assistant Professor at Montana State University where he studies montane ecology.

Meagan Oldfather,


Meagan has been volunteering with the GLORIA project since 2009 and has been co-directing GLORIA Great Basin since 2017. She is a Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Jim & Catie Bishop,

Board Members

Jim & Catie have been an essential part of the GLORIA project since the very first California survey in 2004. They are both active in the state CNPS (California Native Plant Society) organization; Jim is our thunderstorm specialist and Catie is one of our alpine botanists.

Jan Nachlinger,

Board Member

Jan is a botanist/plant ecologist and collects vascular plants & bryophytes in the Great Basin, Mojave Desert, and Sierra Nevada. She has volunteered on GLORIA projects since 2009.

Seema Sheth,

Science Director

Seema started volunteering for GLORIA in 2017. She is currently an Assistant Professor in plant evolutionary ecology at North Carolina State University. Much of Seema's research aims to understand how climate change impacts plant species' geographic distributions.  

Michael Koontz,


Michael has been volunteering with the GLORIA project since 2013. He is currently working towards a PhD in forest ecology at UC Davis.

Mary Burke,

Development Director

Mary has been volunteering with GLORIA since 2013 when she attented a GLORIA workshop in the White Mountains. She is currently the Director of Conservation & Environmental Leadership at the UC Davis Arboretum & Public Garden where she has been for over 25 years working on plant collections and major campus initiatives.

Connie is a research scientist with the US Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station, and has been critical to the establishment of GLORIA sites in the western states.

Adelia Barber,

Past Director 

Adelia started as a volunteer with the GLORIA project in 2006, and was the GLORIA Director in California from 2009 to 2016. She has a PhD from UC Santa Cruz in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, having specialized in reproduction and population biology of Great Basin bristlecone pine.

Connie Millar,

Founder of the North American GLORIA Chapter

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