Traditionally known for its natural values, the Sierra Nevada is currently one of the major centers of biodiversity due to the scientific knowledge generated by the study of ecosystems, making it a natural laboratory for understanding how they function in global change scenarios.
The comprehensive information obtained from the study of their ecosystems is what is collected together in the book “Landscape of the Sierra Nevada. A unique laboratory of global processes in Spain”, which is considered the first study of a single mountain range with a multidisciplinary approach by collecting information on all abiotic factors (climate and geology), biological inventory (flora and fauna, both aquatic and terrestrial) and the human dimension in mountains.
The uniqueness of the Sierra Nevada is that it is “diverse and heterogeneous” so that knowledge of its ecosystems can be extrapolated to, at least, the rest of the mountains of Europe and North Africa, Regino Zamora, professor of the Department of Ecology at the University of Granada, explains to EFE and editor of the book with University of Barcelona professor Marc Oliva.
Climate change and rural migration
Among the developments and scientific knowledge that have resulted from the study of the mountain range in recent times, both through satellites and sensors installed there and through the behavior of ecosystems and lakes, those related to climate change, such as evidence of a significant increase in temperature in the past 100 years.
His study has also shown the abandonment of mountainous areas in rural areas, something “curiosity had a positive effect: the restoration of vegetation,” which is more abundant now fifty or sixty years ago, he points out.
Another aspect that distinguishes the Sierra Nevada from other mountainous masses is its ability to retain species due to the fact that it is “large and heterogeneous” and the temperature range of the region, which allows it to have corners where “any species may take some time”, even if not The conditions were not favorable.
It is, in short, a “mosaic of sanctuaries” that allows species to “reasonably” endure with the help of the heterogeneity of this natural space, according to Zamora, of which the Sierra Nevada still has much to contribute to scientific knowledge as its natural laboratory. It can be extrapolated, at least, to the rest of the mountains of Europe and North Africa.
Since 1970 there have been more than 800 scientific publications on biodiversity, ecology and environmental aspects in the Sierra Nevada with the work of more than 1,500 researchers from various research centers in Spain and other countries.
The book, published by Springer Publishing, which joins these other scientific publications, highlights the importance of Sierra Nevada ecosystems as natural laboratories for understanding the functioning of ecosystems in scenarios of global change, with their regional and global connections.
It also shows to what extent the uniqueness of the massif (its geographic location, high endemism, climatic diversity, secular human influence, strong ecological gradients associated with altitude or unique ecosystems such as remote process sensors) makes the knowledge generated in the Sierra Nevada of great interest to the international scientific community.
It is the result of work carried out at the Sierra Nevada Observatory for Global Change, as a collaboration space between the University of Granada and the Ministry of Sustainability, Environment and Blue Economy.
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