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Parental care in a changing climate

Parental care improves the survival of offspring and therefore has a major impact on reproductive success. It is increasingly recognized that coordinated biparental care is necessary to ensure the...

El cuidado parental en un clima cambiante

Parental care improves the survival of offspring and therefore has a major impact on reproductive success. It is increasingly recognized that coordinated biparental care is necessary to ensure the survival of offspring in hostile environments, but little is known about the influence of environmental fluctuations on parental cooperation. Assessing the impacts of environmental stochasticity, however, is essential for understanding how populations will respond to climate change and the associated increasing frequencies of extreme weather events. Here the influence of environmental stochasticity on biparental incubation in a cosmopolitan ground-nesting avian genus is investigated. Data on biparental care in 36 plover populations (Charadrius spp.) from six continents was assembled to investigate how average temperature, temperature stochasticity and seasonal temperature variation during the breeding season influence parental cooperation during incubation. Data show that the share of parental care carried out by males increases with mean temperature and between-year variation in temperature during daylight hours and that geographical variation in the division of care within species is largely explained by local ambient temperatures. Main conclusions suggest that the degree of flexibility in parental cooperation is likely to mediate the impacts of climate change on the demography and reproductive behaviour of wild animal populations. Vincze et al (2017) Parental cooperation in a changing cln. Global Ecol Biogeogr doi:10.1111/geb.12540

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/geb.12540/abstract

Evolutionary homogenization of bird communities in urban environments

The process of urbanization can lead to specialist species being replaced by generalist species in space and time, increasing similarity among bird communities. This phenomenon is termed biotic...

Homogenization of bird communities in urban environments

The process of urbanization can lead to specialist species being replaced by generalist species in space and time, increasing similarity among bird communities. This phenomenon is termed biotic homogenization and is directly related to taxonomic and functional diversity. However, the effects of urbanization on phylogenetic diversity remain unclear. This study addresses the effects of the process of urbanization on the evolutionary distinctiveness (a quantitative measure of the genetic or evolutionary uniqueness of species) of bird communities. Mixed models were used to compare the effects of urbanization on the evolutionary distinctiveness of bird communities in rural and urban environments in six different European cities from different ecoregions. The study presents unique large-scale evidence of a negative impact of urban environments on the evolutionary uniqueness of birds. Compared with bird communities in rural environments, bird communities in urban environments have lower average evolutionary distinctiveness in all countries, independent of ecoregion, and these values are unrelated to the taxonomic diversity present in each country. Findings provide important information on the spectrum of effects on global biodiversity of changes in land use related to the process of urbanization. Therefore, urban environments are a factor of concern for maintaining diversity across the tree of life of birds, suggesting that urbanization planning could help buffer against extreme loss of phylogenetic diversity caused by this process. informacion[at]ebd.csic.es: Morelli et al (2016) Evidence of evolutionary homogenization of bird communities in urban environments across Europe. Global Ecol Biogeogr 25: 1284–1293 doi:10.1111/geb.12486

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/geb.12486/abstract

The role of raptors in a changing world

Birds of prey have been, in comparison to other avian groups, an uncommon study model, mainly due to the limitations imposed by their conservative life strategy (low population density and...

 

Birds of prey have been, in comparison to other avian groups, an uncommon study model, mainly due to the limitations imposed by their conservative life strategy (low population density and turnover). Nonetheless, they have attracted a strong interest from the point of view of conservation biology because many populations have been close to extinction and because of their recognised role in ecosystems as top predators and scavengers and as flagship species. Today, after more than a century of persecution, and with the exception of some vultures still very much affected by illegal poisoning, many populations of birds of prey have experienced significant recoveries in many regions of Spain and the European Mediterranean. These changes pose new challenges when addressing the conservation of raptors in the coming decades. On this basis, and from a preferentially Mediterranean perspective, we have focused our attention on the need of describing and quantifying the role of these birds as providers of both regulating (rodent pest control and removal of livestock carcasses) and cultural ecosystem services. Moreover, we revisited persisting conflicts with human interests (predation of game species) and call attention to the emergence of new conflicts with a strong social and media component such as the predation on live cattle by vultures. Also, the rampant humanization of the environment determines the need for new solutions to the growing, yet scarcely explored, problem of accidents in new infrastructures such as mortality in wind farms. Finally, we explored in depth the ecological response of birds of prey to large-scale habitat changes such as urbanisation and abandonment of marginal lands that are also expected to increase in the near future. We urgently need more scientific knowledge to provide adequate responses to the challenge of keeping healthy populations of avian predators and scavengers in a rapidly changing world.. informacion[at]ebd.csic.es: Donázar et al (2016) Roles of raptors in a changing world: from flagships to providers of key ecosystem services. Ardeola 63(1) 181-234 doi http://dx.doi.org/10.13157/arla.63.1.2016.rp8

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Citizen Science

Non-systematic observation of nature conforms long series of temporal data stored by EBD
Citizen science seeks the cooperation of the general public in activities and scientific projects. Participants provide data,...
The spontaneous collaboration of volunteers and technicians provides key information for the monitoring of migratory bird species.
The observation of butterflies as bioindicators of the condition and quality of the environment is an activity that requires...

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Topics

BIODIVERSITY

Biodiversity

In Doñana 1,362 species of plants have been inventoried. Within the so-called higher plants, vascular plants or cormophites, 9 correspond to the Pteridophytes division and 1,033 at Spermatophytes. Of these, 9 are included in gymnosperms subdivision and 1,024 in angiosperms. Among the higher plants 114 families are represented. Gramineae or Poaceae (126 species), Papilionaceous (116) and Compositae (108) stand out, by the number of species found.

Regarding wildlife, the group of birds clearly highlight. More than 200 species use this area for certain periods of year to breed, feed or shelter. The high mobility of these species and their migratory behavior outside the breeding season allows them to move to optimal areas according to each season of the year. In this sense more than 140 birds breed more or less regularly in Doñana, and more than 100 species visit Doñana just to feed and shelter in pre and postbreeding periods. Much smaller in number, but no less important are other species of vertebrates such as amphibians (12 species), reptiles (23 species including sea turtles), fish (27 species, of which 7 are introduced species, non-native of Doñana’s aquatic ecosystems), and mammals (27 species).

Doñana also houses a rich invertebrate community, whose catalog is growing every day, bringing often new species to Doñana and even to Science. So, 18 species of dragonflies and 45 species of butterflies are known.

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PRIMARY PRODUCTION AND CARBON

PRIMARY PRODUCTION AND CARBON

The functioning of ecosystems is defined as the set of conditions and processes by which the ecosystem maintains its integrity, including primary production, biogeochemical cycles and flows of matter and energy in general. Loss of functionality produce decreases in the ability of ecosystems to retain and use local resources such as water or nutrients, as well as its stability and ability to cushion disturbances (Ludwig & Tongway, 1997; Diaz, S. 2001 ). Functional alterations occur as a result of environmental changes of various kinds, such as droughts, fires, changes in biotic composition, changes in land use or overuse of aquifers (Paruelo et al., 2001; Muñoz-Reinoso, 2001; Cardinale et al., 2006). The effect of these alterations has important ecological implications, affecting the ability of ecosystems to sequester carbon and provide usable energy by primary consumers, or even changing the local climate. Monitor the functioning of ecosystems in space and time is therefore a conservation priority (Alcaraz-Segura et al, 2009; Fernandez et al, 2010).

The carbon cycle

The exchange of CO2 between the surface and the atmosphere gives us valuable information about the functioning of an ecosystem. A given ecosystem can act as a source of CO2 (releasing CO2 into the atmosphere) or sink (grasping it) according to a number of factors, on the one hand, the structure of the ecosystem (type of vegetation, of soil, etc.) and on the other by climatic factors (rate of precipitation, average temperature, etc.). In addition, the net exchange of carbon varies over time both intra-annually (depending on the season) as inter-annually (depending on factors such as the water regime of this year or disturbances as pests, fires or other).

Systematic observation in the time of carbon flux allows us to understand the seasonal dynamics of the ecosystem (it would take more than a full year of data for this task), intra-annual variations (for what would be necessary to have 5 or more years of data), impacts of climate change on ecosystem dynamics (long time series of more than 10 years would be needed). At present there are mainly two data sources that provide information about the carbon and water cycles: data from Eddy Covariance Towers and data from remote sensing.

Data used in this Ecosystemic Observatory

Currently, the sensors on board of satellite are the only source of quantitative data and spatially explicit able to provide frequent observations of land cover (Scholes et al., 2008), all basic requirements of a system like this. Once developed, the system will provide low-cost information, with a continuous spatial coverage and high refresh rate. This will allow real-time monitoring, early detection of anomalies and the ability to predict in the short and medium term some of the parameters that define the functioning of ecosystems. Another source of data to be used in this Observatory is that derived from Eddy Covariance Towers. No doubts that these are the most accurate data currently exist to study the net flow of CO2 between the surface and the atmosphere. These data have greatly improved our ability to understand the inter and intra annual dynamic of diverse ecosystems on the earth's surface.

Doñana and its ecosystems

Doñana region consists of two large environmental units: Guadalquivir marshes that are flooded every year and are formed by silt carried down by the river, and “cotos” or stable sand dunes, covered with aeolian sediments of marine origin. Much of the marshes were drained from the first half of the twentieth century and dedicated to agriculture, mainly irrigation, with a prominent role of rice fields. In the “cotos”, one part is devoted to intensive agriculture, often under plastic, and another was planted over half a century ago with pine nut trees and eucalyptus (although the latter have been eliminated in recent decades). In less transformed areas, the type of vegetation depends largely on the availability of water: in the high marsh annual flood lasts a short time and grow salt wort “almajos” and herbaceous, while in the lower marsh water lasts longer and bulrush “bayunco” and sedge “castañuela” predominate; the “cotos”, the high areas, with a more limited access to water table, are dominated by cistaceous, especially halimium, rosemary, and some junipers areas; this xerophytic vegetation is known as white mountain “monte blanco” ; low-lying areas are flooded during wetter winters and heathers predominate in them, a type of hydrophytic vegetation locally called black mountain “monte negro”. The ecotone or transition between “cotos” and marshlands, known as “La Vera”, is rich in pastures.

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WATER AND ITS DYNAMICS

Water and its dynamics

The purpose of this monitoring is to establish the dynamics of flood-drying of aquatic ecosystems of Doñana. Doñana basically contains two water systems, the first occupies 28,000 hectares of a seasonal freshwater marsh (clay soils) and the second consists in an extensive system of temporary pools on the coastal aeolian mantle (sandy soils). The flooding of the marsh is seasonal. The marsh is a floodplain that is filled with the autumn rains and dries in summer. The autumn rains soak the clay plain. The rains are more abundant throughout the winter and increase the water level of the marsh. In spring rain compensates evaporation and water level is maintained. At the end of spring the marsh begins to dry and it transforms into a plain of clay, dry and cracked in the summer. The marshland of Donana is the delta of Guadalquivir River, but now the floodplain depends more on the contributions of other rivers like “Guadiamar” and streams like “Rocina” and “Partido”.

The marshes are very dynamic systems. They depend on the contributions of rivers and rainfall each year. In addition they depend on the quality of water and sediment tows.

The temporary pools system is also seasonal. They are freshwater ponds fed by groundwater. Although they follow a pattern of flooding in autumn and winter and dry, whole or in part, in summer, by relying on the water table and not so much on surface runoff its dynamics is decoupled from the marsh.

In this monitoring we use satellite images to see the temporal and spatial trends in the level of flooding of the marsh. It basically answers the question how many days each point remains flooded, and what level of water is reached at all times. The number of days each point remains flooded is what we call "hydroperiod", this determines what vegetation communities grow in place, and what animal species live there. Because the flooding depends on rain and this is highly variable from year to year the hydroperiod of each point is also highly variable between years. This variability in turn makes it difficult to determine medium and long term temporal trends unless long time series are made available. In addition to knowing whether a point is awash we need to know the characteristics of the water body, depth, turbidity and degree of development of aquatic plants communities, emergent, floating and submerged.

The monitoring currently employs Landsat images from 1972 to the present, using the MSS, TM, ETM + and OLI / TIR sensors. The images are spatially registered, radiometrically corrected and normalized. On this series of images the indicators of flooded surface and water quality are extracted.

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CLIMATE

WHY, STANDARDS, WHAT EXISTS AND NETWORKS

WHY. Weather conditions largely determine the life cycles of organisms. Their registration is essential to characterize any ecosystem and understand the behavior of wild populations that are part of it. In addition, in the context of climate change, as one of its main drivers, the importance of monitoring climate variables is obvious. Finally, the LTER sites are required to keep a weather record that can be incorporated into the studies carried out in these sites.

STANDARDS. The location, instruments and arrangement (cover, orientation, height) significantly influence the measures. In order to compare weather data between sites, registration was standardized by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) already in the 50s of the last century. In LTER sites standards have been defined and 5 levels of accuracy (0 to 4) for taking meteorological data. Each LTER site must meet at least level 1 that includes registration of temperature and precipitation, defined as essential to study variations in annual cycles and long-term trends in the physical environment. Level 1 also determines that data collection should be done several times a day and should be automated (use of electronic sensors and digital recording).

WHAT EXISTS. At the Doñana Biological Reserve, near the Palace, there is a weather station since 1978. Its record is manual (analog instruments), and reading is performed once a day (in the morning), recording the minimum and maximum temperature (from the day before) of two thermometers (wet and dry), plus precipitation. This manual station has been reviewed by the Meteorological State Agency (AEMET) until 2008. Since 2008, the AEMET has installed a new AEMET station with modern instrumentation that allows automated registration, taking additional data such as wind and humidity. Since November 2013 EBD-CSIC has installed another station, consisting of a multisensor of VAISALA brand, whose data are automatically stored in the databases of EBD-CSIC. Both data from manual station and from VAISALA are made available to the user. There are other points in the Doñana Biological Reserve where meteorological variables are taken in combination with other measures that expand the data related to the study of climate (soil and air humidity, solar radiation, soil temperature, temperature, CO2 flow ....).

NETWORKS. There are several data networks although the installations controlled by the EBD-CSIC have yet to be incorporated to them. Through the AEMET Station Doñana provide data to this national network.

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