Mountain lakes and wetlands limnological monitoring

laguna grandeIn the Sierra de Guadarrama are located several mountain lakes and wetlands, which even with a small size, constitute one of the most interesting and relevant habitats in relation with preservation. Some of them are among the most recognizable spots of this Sierra, such as the Peñalara Lake. By the contrary, others are quite unknown for the general public.

The Peñalara Lake suffered numerous impacts until the mid 90’s of the past century, when its ecologic restoring took place. Since then, it has become the central objective for the tracking of these Sierra aquatic ecosystems. The limnology monitoring is made on a monthly basis, to evaluate the environment recovery and to dispose of an early alert system for other impacts or alterations in those ecosystems. In essence, it means to determine the temporary and special variations, to detect possible impacts, to propose and evaluate management measures, to generate an ecologic information database and to study this lake evolution towards environment factors.

Peñalara Lake

muestreo lagunaThe samplings at the Peñalara Lake are made from a light rowing inflatable boat, at the waters deepest spot. During the winter season is used a special drill bit to pierce the ice cover. At the deepest spot it is installed a permanent buoy to facilitate the sampling tasks.

In every sampling are gathered the following data, depending on the year season and the established objectives:

  • Environment conditions (atmospheric temperature, cloudiness, wind, precipitation, last days’ meteorology etc.).
  • Ices cover description (density, grading, stratigraphy and special heterogeneity).
  • Water column hydrochemistry.
  • Water transparency.
  • Water column physicochemical structure profile (temperature, pH, conductivity and dissolved oxygen).
  • Photosynthetic pigments.
  • The cumulated material at the sediments traps placed in the previous visit.
  • Phytoplankton and zooplankton.
  • Benthonic invertebrates.

The limnology monitoring has allowed, among other aspects, to gather a large amount of information related to its ecologic characteristics.

Other Sierra wetlands

The Peñalara Lake (La Laguna Grande de Peñalara) is just one of the dozens of water sheets located at the Ramsar Site for the Peñalara Massif Wetlands. A selection of those aquatic ecosystems is also sampled periodically, including the Carnations Lake (La Laguna de los Claveles), the Birds Lake (La Laguna de los Pájaros) and determined ponds which stick out due to their threaten species presence or their high biodiversity.  Those tracking tasks allow to update the catalogue of the National Park biologic heritage and to know the existence of a preservation problem.

The Peñalara Massif is without any doubt the most important and relevant spot of the Sierra de Guadarrama, in relation with the aquatic mountain ecosystems presence. However, there are other interesting enclaves, such as La Morcuera Ponds (Charcas de La Morcuera), the Pinilla Hollows (Los Hoyos de Pinilla) or the Loin Lagoon (La Laguna del Lomo).