In the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park and in its Peripheral Protection Zone, there are 61 species of mammals. Six species are Iberian endemism (the Iberian hare, the Lusitanian pine vole, the Iberian shrew, the Iberian mole, the Pyrenean desman and the Cabrera’s vole). The Mediterranean mountains as the Sierra de Guadarrama are critical areas for the preservation of diversity and wealth regarding fauna in general and mammals in particular.
The cooling and the intensification of precipitation due to the height, make them islands having distinctive bioclimatic characteristics from the surrounding plains, very conducive for the reception of typically Euroasian species, such as the Pyrenean desman, the pygmy shrew, the common vole or the snowy vole. In addition, its relief and its wilderness areas have enabled the preservation of great sized species not finding adequate shelter in other areas, such as the European roe deer, the wildcat, the Euroasian otter or the European badger.
The taxon group contributing with most species to the mammal fauna in the National Park is the one of the bats (Chiroptera Order). It is responsible for the presence of 23 species among inventoried mammals, including the largest number of taxa classified under protection status, both to the regional and national level. Even so, the Pyrenean desman is the specie classified the highest protection status at national and regional level. This Iberian endemism was taken as extinct in the Sierra de Guadarrama, and currently maintains a small population on the National Park Segovian slope.
To the European level, the maximum protection status is held by the wolf: an emblematic specie recently living in the Sierra de Guadarrama, further to its extinction, occurred more than a century ago. It is the only specie of mammal whose conservation is a priority at the European level and it is currently expanding in the Sierra de Guadarrama. From a decade, its existence in the Central System has been reported with several breeding groups in Segovia and Guadalajara provinces, which have served as a source of specimens to Madrid area, where there are also breeding evidences from a few years.
It is necessary to highlight the negative incidence of an invasive mammal, the American mink, coming from old fur farms that has acclimated successfully for decades in the Sierra de Guadarrama causing negative effects in populations under extinction threat, such as the Pyrenean desman, or in sharp decline, such as amphibia populations. Since the introduction of American mink in Europe, the specie has become an ecological problem that implies its control need. The control methodology to date is generally based on the trapping of invasive populations.
Down below you can find a brief description of some National Park representative mammals:
Some National Park mammals
The European roe deer (Capreolus capreolus): it is the smallest Spanish cervid and the most abundant in Europe. Its small size, about 25 kg weight. It has survived in areas where other great sized ungulates have disappeared. It is linked to the forest environments although its adaptability enables its presence in almost all the Sierra de Guadarrama habitats.
It is a markedly territorial specie having a peculiar reproductive cycle, in which although the copulation occurs in July, the phenomenon of embryonic diapause exists and delays until the winter the growing of the embryo. It is usually observed in small groups of 2 or 3 specimens.
The Iberian Ibex (Capra pirenaica): it is a great ungulate endemic of the Iberian peninsula. It was present until century XIX in all the peninsular mountainous systems, but the Napoleonic Wars, the cattle pressure and the hunting reduced their populations to small groups in Gredos mountains, Pyrenees and eastern peninsula mountains. The one of Madrid area come from repopulations held in the 90s with specimens from Gredos and Las Batuecas Hunting Reserve.
The Central System subspecie, the Capra pinenaica victoriae is smaller than the typical one, with less extended black marks, and somewhat smaller, wider, and crushed horns. It usually can reach a height at the cross between 90-70 cm for males and 75 cm for females, being able to reach 60-80 kg males and 35-46 kg females.
Further to their recent reintroduction, the Iberian Ibex behave as a colonizing specie, so populations highly grow and they are unbalanced with the environment. Currently the over density in some Park areas is damaging the threatened flora and may pose a danger to the survival of the specie in the event of a plague. The National Park has launched a control program trying to recover the balance of the specie and its surroundings. The management plan is available to download.
The Snowy vole (Chionomys nivalis): it is one of the largest voles, which can reach 14 cm length. It has uniform coat of grayish color with brown tones. The specie is very adapted to life in high mountains, always looking for rocks and stable rocky grounds that are its favourite environment.
It is a clear example of relict species nestled in the mountainous areas of the Peninsula and sheltered after the glacial epochs. The Sierra de Guadarrama served as a refuge for many species such as the snowy vole, having their ecological optimum in more northern environments.
The European badger (Meles meles): it is a large carnivore, robust and adapted to the underground life. It reaches 80 cm length and a weight of 9 kg, with a little sexual dimorphism. Badgers are typical inhabitants in moderately cool environments where forests and grasslands alternate.
In the Sierra de Guadarrama, it commonly lives in the supramediterranean floor meadow areas. As the European roe deer does, it shows a deferred implantation, so the blastocyte do not implant until a few months after the mating. Births occur in winter although the offspring remain in the harness for more than two months.