A summer full of activity!

The summer months are always important for the entire team involved in the LIFE RESQUE ALPYR project, as they mark the beginning of fieldwork. Despite being intense weeks, it’s one of the moments when the whole team enjoys their work the most. The summer field campaign includes monitoring tasks in both high mountain lakes and mires.

Work at the lakes involves tasks in both the pelagic zone, which is the deepest part of the lake, and the littoral zone. In the deep zone, water transparency is observed, temperature and other physicochemical parameters are measured, and water samples are collected to determine the biomass and composition of primary producers, such as algae and crustaceans.

Sampling in the pelagic zone of the lake. Author: Marta Mora

On the other hand, in the littoral zone, an amphibian census is conducted, and samples are taken to study the abundance and composition of macroinvertebrates, which are abundant organisms in the food web of these environments. Samples are also taken to measure algal coverage on rocks, a measure that allows quantifying the indirect impact of fish on algal communities through the removal of herbivores.

Left photo: Measuring algal coverage on rocks. Right photo: Sampling to evaluate the abundance and composition of macroinvertebrates. Author: Marta Mora

In this new project, to detect semiaquatic mammals that may frequent the lakes, we are using two sampling techniques: track searching and environmental DNA analysis, which allows us to detect traces of genetic material from the species that visit the lakes.

In wetlands ecosystems, the botany specialist team collects samples of both soil water and soil itself. With water samples, pH and conductivity are measured to understand the plant community that can be established there. Soil samples undergo metabarcoding analysis (genetic analysis) to determine which fungal and prokaryotic communities can be found in the soil and to understand its functioning.

One of the project’s objectives is also related to restoration actions. In these actions to assess changes in vegetation, floristic inventories are completed, including all vascular plant species and some bryophytes, with the aim of repeating these inventories after restoration actions and evaluating if the species composition has changed and to what extent.

Furthermore, this summer, selective clearcutting has already been carried out in Pla Muntaner, and exclusion fences have been installed in most of the planned protected areas.

The team of botanists doing floristic inventories. Author: Marta Mora