Biodiversity in the La Palma volcano area is increasingly deteriorating

The vegetation located in the area of ​​the Cumbre Vieja eruption, and which corresponds mostly to the Canary Island pine forest, is deteriorating “a lot” due to the duration in time of this volcanic process, as stated by Efe CSIC researcher Manuel Nogales.

Nogales, delegate in the Canary Islands of the Higher Council for Scientific Research, explains that, when photosynthesis is carried out, the pines do so with gases that are acid aerosols released from the volcano, which causes them to have a yellowish appearance, “with a galloping chlorosis that already it reaches five kilometers away from the cone. ”

The specialist, who directs the different CSIC teams that continuously and from the beginning of the eruption study its effects on the biodiversity of the area, explains that the one furthest from the volcano is “acceptably well”, but the one to the south of the coladas is the one that has suffered the most. because the trade winds move the magmatic material, including ash and sand, and produce important changes in the vegetation.

Has explained that Although the damage is not as spectacular as that produced by a fire, it is a slower process and is just as important and damaging and, as an example, he has cited that a lot of needles are falling at a time of year that does not correspond, since this natural process in the pines occurred between August and September.

“We do not know how the recovery will be because it is a very new scenario for us,” says the researcher, who recalls that the Teneguía eruption of 50 years ago was mainly on the coast and did not affect pine forests.

The CSIC teams displaced to La Palma carry out weekly monitoring of the flora and fauna, including some groups such as bats and insects.

Nogales states that This monitoring is very important because it is the first time that it has been done on the biodiversity affected by a volcanic eruption. and, therefore, they want to complement it with as much information as possible “because what comes out of here will lead to interesting publications.”

The area affected by the eruption is mainly pine forest but also characteristic species of thermophilic mountains, such as junipers, and on the cardonal coast of Tabaibal.

Regarding fauna, Nogales indicates that it is fauna associated with these types of habitats and in the pine forest it is basically the common finches, mosquito nets and blue tit. In the area of ​​the thermophilic mount there are caps, black warblers and canaries, while on the coast, the fauna is reduced but a new species has appeared which is the thyme warbler, very typical of the coastal area.

This species has been found between two flows and the CSIC team is pleased with this finding because on La Palma the “coastal vegetation belt” is very narrow.

The scientist highlights the difficulty of working in a changing scenario on a daily basis and recalled that of the 32 stations with which they began to collect all the data on flora and fauna in the area, less than 10 percent remains because the volcanic eruption has swept away.

Unlike what happened with the underwater volcano of El Hierro, that after a few years the fauna and flora of the Las Calmas sea were enriched, the scientist considers that here “there are more unknowns” and it will depend on the time.

He explains that it is a dry area so the processes of neocolonization of plants and animals is slower than if the volcano had erupted in a humid area “where the processes are greatly accelerated.”

However, he trusts in the recovery capacity of the Canary Island pine “that was born between volcanoes” and affirms that, although it will be a long process, the damage caused “will be reversible”.


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