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Impacts of groundwater abstraction on temporary ponds in Doñana

Water level changes have been monitored over 25 years in several temporary ponds located at different distances to a pumping area of a tourist resort fringing the Donana National Park (SW Spain)....

Water level changes have been monitored over 25 years in several temporary ponds located at different distances to a pumping area of a tourist resort fringing the Donana National Park (SW Spain). The numerical model MIKE SHE was set up to simulate pond water levels and hydroperiod fluctuations. It was calibrated for nine hydrological years and validated for two periods of eight hydrological years each to assess whether the duration of the pond wet phase (hydroperiod) significantly deviated from an expected pattern driven by rainfall and evapotranspiration. The model output indicated a satisfactory performance for all simulations. This approach provided two main conclusions: a) a long-term increasing trend in water losses on the pond water balance which has not been followed by a corresponding decreasing trend in rainfall, and b) these water losses were highest in the pond located at < 1 km to the pumping area and lowest in the pond located at a further distance (5.6 km) and at a lower altitude. These results suggest that, in the long run, a small groundwater abstraction rate has exerted a high hydrological pressure on the closest pond to the pumping area. Dimitriou et al (2017) Hydrodynamic numerical modelling of the water level decline in four temporary ponds of the Doñana National Park (SW Spain). J Arid Environ. Doi 10.1016/j.jaridenv.2017.09.004

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140196317301684?via%3Dihub

The challenges of building Essential Biodiversity Variables

Much biodiversity data is collected worldwide, but it remains challenging to assemble the scattered knowledge for assessing biodiversity status and trends. The concept of Essential Biodiversity...

Much biodiversity data is collected worldwide, but it remains challenging to assemble the scattered knowledge for assessing biodiversity status and trends.

The concept of Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs) was introduced to structure biodiversity monitoring globally, and to harmonize and standardize biodiversity data from disparate sources to capture a minimum set of critical variables required to study, report and manage biodiversity change. Here, the challenges of a ‘Big Data’ approach to building global EBV data products across taxa and spatiotemporal scales is assessed, focusing on species distribution and abundance.

The majority of currently available data on species distributions derives from incidentally reported observations or from surveys where presence-only or presence–absence data are sampled repeatedly with standardized protocols.

Most abundance data come from opportunistic population counts or from population time series using standardized protocols (e.g. repeated surveys of the same population from single or multiple sites). Enormous complexity exists in integrating these heterogeneous, multi-source data sets across space, time, taxa and different sampling methods. Integration of such data into global EBV data products requires correcting biases introduced by imperfect detection and varying sampling effort, dealing with different spatial resolution and extents, harmonizing measurement units from different data sources or sampling methods, applying statistical tools and models for spatial inter- or extrapolation, and quantifying sources of uncertainty and errors in data and models.

To support the development of EBVs by the Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON), 11 key workflow steps are identified that will operationalize the process of building EBV data products within and across research infrastructures worldwide. These workflow steps take multiple sequential activities into account, including identification and aggregation of various raw data sources, data quality control, taxonomic name matching and statistical modelling of integrated data.

These steps are illustrated with concrete examples from existing citizen science and professional monitoring projects, including eBird, the Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring network, the Living Planet Index and the Baltic Sea zooplankton monitoring.

The identified workflow steps are applicable to both terrestrial and aquatic systems and a broad range of spatial, temporal and taxonomic scales. They depend on clear, findable and accessible metadata, and an overview of current data and metadata standards is provided. Several challenges remain to be solved for building global EBV data products: (i) developing tools and models for combining heterogeneous, multi-source data sets and filling data gaps in geographic, temporal and taxonomic coverage, (ii) integrating emerging methods and technologies for data collection such as citizen science, sensor networks, DNA-based techniques and satellite remote sensing, (iii) solving major technical issues related to data product structure, data storage, execution of workflows and the production process/cycle as well as approaching technical interoperability among research infrastructures, (iv) allowing semantic interoperability by developing and adopting standards and tools for capturing consistent data and metadata, and (v) ensuring legal interoperability by endorsing open data or data that are free from restrictions on use, modification and sharing.

Addressing these challenges is critical for biodiversity research and for assessing progress towards conservation policy targets and sustainable development goals. Kissling et al (2017) Building essential biodiversity variables (EBVs) of species distribution and abundance at a global scale. Biol Rev Doi 10.1111/brv.12359

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/brv.12359/abstract

Wetland salinity induces carry-over effects in the physical conditions of a long-distance migrant

Salinization is having a major impact on wetlands and its biota worldwide. Specifically, many migratory animals that rely on wetlands are increasingly exposed to elevated salinity on their...

Salinization is having a major impact on wetlands and its biota worldwide. Specifically, many migratory animals that rely on wetlands are increasingly exposed to elevated salinity on their nonbreeding grounds. Experimental evidence suggests that physiological challenges associated with increasing salinity may disrupt self-maintenance processes in these species. Nonetheless, the potential role of salinity as a driver of ecological carry-over effects remains unstudied. This study investigated the extent to which the use of saline wetlands during winter – inferred from feather stable isotope values – induces residual effects that carry over and influence physiological traits relevant to fitness in black-tailed godwits Limosa limosa limosa on their northward migration. Overwintering males and females were segregated by wetland salinity in West Africa, with females mostly occupying freshwater wetlands. The use of these wetlands along a gradient of salinities was associated with differences in immune responsiveness to phytohaemagglutinin and sized-corrected body mass in godwits staging in southern Europe during northward migration – 3,000 km from the nonbreeding grounds – but in males only. Indeed, males that used more saline wetlands in winter arrived at staging sites in poorer body condition than males that used freshwater wetlands. These findings provide a window onto the processes by which wetland salinity can induce carry-over effects and can help predict how migratory species should respond to future climate-induced increases in salinity. Masero et al (2017) Wetland salinity induces sex-dependent carry-over effects on the individual performance of a long-distance migrant. Sci Rep 7: 6867 DOI 10.1038/s41598-017-07258-w

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-07258-w

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The Observatory

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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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