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Importancia de los ensayos climaticos para el estudio de la biodiversidad en las montanas mediterraneas de la Peninsula Iberica.

Importance of climatic data analysis for biodiversity studies in Mediterranean mountains of the Iberian Peninsula

The notion of climate as a driving environmental factor governing the distribution of plants and vegetation has long been recognized (VON HUMBOLDT, 1807; WAHLENBERG, 1811; GRISEBACH, 1838). The importance of climate studied through its main features, temperature, precipitation, evapotranspiration, etc. or their combinations, has been indicated in different vegetation or plant geography surveys (BOX, 1981; WALTER, 1985; TUHKANEN, 1987; WOODWARD, 1987; PRENTICE & al, 1992; GAVILAN, 1994; BLASI & al., 1999). simple climate parameters have been used to quantify and determine the influence of climate on plants and vegetation (GAVILAN & FERNANDEZ-GONZALEZ, 1997; GAVILAN & al., 1998; PALACIOS GIJON, 2011). However, these parameters in combination in the form of phytoclimatic indices is considered much useful for biodiversity studies (DE MARTONNE, 1926; TUHKANEN, 1980; GAVILAN, 2005), although other authors consider that bioclimatic indices can give redundant information or are limited to the areas where they were formulated (DE MARTONNE, 1955; GAUSSEN, 1956; FERNANDEZ-GONZALEZ, 1997).

Recently the development of research studies by different groups worldwide together to new outdoor climate measuring instruments much more improved and precise have made necessary to update our research laboratory units in Universities and Research centers. our research group with a wide experience in the study of the relationships between vegetation and environment also participate on such international nets, such as the GLORIA Initiative ( whose objective is to establish a long term sampling of alpine plant communities.

We have then established a net of dataloggers in the summits of central spain mountains (sistema central): sierra de Guadarrama and sierra de Gredos. GLORIA tasks consisted in plant communities sampling but also climate measures recording (GUTIERREZ-GIRON & GAVILAN, 2010; GUTIERREZ-GIRON & GAVILAN, 2013). However, other research developed in our department included the installation of a micrometeorological station in mediterranean high mountain areas where standard recording had not been done ever (BLANQUER & al, 2009a, 2009b, 2010, 2011). We chose sierra de Gredos were the altitude of summits were higher than in other parts of the sistema Central. Finally, the analysis of mountain forest management and their conservation status provide us the study of bioclimatic feature at mid altitudes in sierra de Gredos and sierra de Guadarrama (RUBIO & al., 2010).

With this in mind the research group ENVIROVEG (, 2013) has created in 2012 a research laboratory called ENVIROCLIM_LAB (Comunidad de Madrid i+d) whose objectives are to provide tools to develop bioclimatic studies in the Mountains of the Iberian Peninsula. This new lab includes all standard statistic tools to analyze climatic series and regional downscaling. Data recording by Enviroclim_Lab is done by a bioclimatic net situated in Central Spain Mountains that consisted of three components:

1) A meteorological and microclimatic stations in El Morezon peak (2378 m, sierra de Gredos) which aim is to collect different type of climatic data to get long term data for the interpretation and comprehension of climate change scenarios in alpine Mediterranean areas: i) air temperature, ii) air humidity, iii) temperature in different cushion species and lichens characteristics of the area, iv) Photosynthetic active radiation, v) solar radiation at different time intervals during the whole year. It has been recently implemented installing specific telemetric hardware to operate by distance with permanent access to gathered data, from July 2009 (Figure 1, 2).

2) GLORIA Initiative dataloggers recording temperature data of high mountain areas, in sierra de Guadarrama and sierra de Gredos (including sierra de Bejar), from July 2006 (Figure 2).

3) GLORIA dataloggers recording temperature data in forest areas at altitudes around 1500 m asl. in sierra de Guadarrama and sierra de Gredos, from January 2006 (Figure 2).

Most of the temperature dataloggers of the Enviroclim_lab net are buried at 10 cm deep in the soil and they record soil temperature hourly. The routine analysis of data is the calculation of annual, seasonal or monthly soil temperature indexes (Table 1). Additionally, the hourly record of temperature allows us other type of indexes such as the snow melting date in spring or the snow cover duration (Table 1), that are parameters driving the ecology of high mountain communities (KORNER, 2003). A basic and regular graphical exploration of annual series of data is also carry out (Figure 3). Moreover, in every site where temperature dataloggers have been installed, vegetation sampling has been done to record information of composition and structure of plant communities (Figure 2; GUTIERREZ-GIRON & GAVILAN, 2010; GUTIERREZ-GIRON & GAVILAN, 2013); and in specific sites this vegetation is monitoring by revisiting and resampling plant communities in order to detect long-term climate change responses in ecosystems. Finally, the monitoring of superficial soil temperature conditions it is a important factor for the prediction of future changes of the biochemical cycle of carbon, since organic matter of soil represent the major terrestrial stock of carbon, bigger than the sum of atmospheric an plant biomass carbon (SCHIMEL, 1995). Enviroclim_lab data has been also recently employed in the study of C biochemical cycling and soil-plant relationships in Mediterrean high mountain ecosystems (GUTIERREZ-GIRON & al, 2014; GUTIERREZ-GIRON & al., 2015).




In conclusion from 2012 Enviroclim_lab works on statistic tools to analyze climatic series and regional downscaling of the bioclimatic net of atmospheric and soil climate records, from 2400 m asl to 1500 m asl in high mountain and forest ecosystems along Central system Mountains.

doi: 10.5209/rev_LAZA.2014.v35.47070

Received: 2 october 2014

Accepted: 31 october 2014


We want to thank Leopoldo G. Sancho and Daniel Sanchez-Mata comments to the a previous version of the manuscript. We also thank the Ministry of science and Education and University Complutense the financial funding to create ENVIROCLIM_LAB, mainly BIOALPI (CGL2008-00901/B0s and PR1/08-15924-A), but also CONFOR (AGL200764707/F0R) and REMEDINAL2 (s-2009/AMB-1783).


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Jose Manuel Blanquer Lorite, Alba Gutierrez Giron & Rosario G. Gavilan (*)

* Departamento de Biologia Vegetal II. Facultad de Farmacia. Universidad Complutense. E-28040 Madrid, Spain. Email:;
Table 1

summary of indexes regularly calculated from soil
temperature records.

Md: Daily mean temperature.

M: Monthly mean temperature.

Max. daily: Daily maximum temperature.

Min. daily: Daily maximum temperature.

MAX: Monthly mean of maximum temperatures.

MIN: Monthly mean of minimum temperatures.

MAXA: Absolute monthly maximum temperature.

MINA: Absolute monthly minimum temperature.

MSEA: seasonally mean temperature of each season: spring
(March-April-May), summer (June-July-August),
autumn (september-October-November), winter
(December-January- February).

MWARM: Mean temperature of the warmest month.

MCOLD: Mean temperature of the coldest month.

MAMP: Monthly temperature range (MAX minus MIN).

MAMwarm: Temperature range of the warmest month.

MAMsummer: Temperature range of the summer.

D5C: Number of days with a mean daily temperature >
5[grados] C. It could be calculated for others thresholds
of temperature (e.g. 2[grados]C or 0[grados]C).

DG: Degree days of the vegetative period . The sum of
daily mean temperatures of days with a mean daily temperature
> 5[grados]C during the growing season. It could be
calculated for different thresholds of temperature (e.g. 0
[grados]C, 2[grados]C).

Biotemperature of Holdridge: The sum of mean daily temperatures
> 0[grados] C and divided by 365 days. It could be calculated
for others thresholds of temperature (e.g. 2[grados]C or 5

TDD: Mean temperature of the days with a daily mean temperature
> 0[grados]C and multiplied for the number of days with this
condition. It could be calculated for others thresholds of
temperature (e.g. 2[grados]C or 5[grados]C). Snow melt date:
Date of snow melting in spring. It is estimated from hourly
temperature graphs.

Dsnow: snow cover duration in days. sum of days with a mean
daily temperature of 0[grados] C and a daily temperature
variation of < 1[grados]C.

Dice: Number of days tha soil is frozen. sum of days the soil
retained frost with a mean daily temperature < 1[grados]C.

Eice: Number of frozen soil events during a year. It is estimated
from hourly temperature graphs.
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Author:Blanquer Lorite, Jose Manuel; Gutierrez Giron, Alba; Gavilan, Rosario G.
Date:Jan 1, 2014
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