When the small fish eats the smallest

alex subiendoSome days ago we had the chance to know first-hand about the LIFE project LIFE LimnoPirineus.  This Project is guided by CEAB’s investigators, from the CSIC’s centre of Blanes, dedicated to the study and conservation of the high mountain lakes.  Accompanied by their leaders, Marc Ventura and Alex Miró, we visited many of the workplaces in the National Park of Aigüestortes.

Due to the impact of the human beings, many of the beautiful lakes from the Pyrenees Mountains nowadays do not have their original biodiversity and the ecosystem doesn‘t work the same way.  One of the biggest changes that these lakes have suffered was the historical introduction of trout and most recently, other smaller fish like some cyprinids.  For centuries, people living in the lower-lying areas of these mountains introduced trout in mostly all the lakes below 1,500m of altitude. Furthermore, the shepherds did the same in higher lakes to survive during the long periods of time that they spend with the herds in the high areas.  On top of that, much more recently, the French fishermen introduced fish of the Phoxinus genre in most of the lakes, as they use them as a live bait to fish the trout.  

The LIFE project Limnopirineus wants to restore some of the lakes by removing the introduced fish and reintroducing the native amphibious species.  Therefore, it is a very positive initiative for the amphibian fauna of these mountains, which includes the Pyrenean mountain newt (Calotriton asper), the midwife toad (Alytes obstertricans) and the grass frog (Rana temporaria).

As these lakes are isolated and far from the few amphibian population centers that could survive in the area, the natural reconolization of the amphibians seems difficult, that is way the LIFE project LimnoPirineus is also thinking about the translocation of the specimen.  This will be a very hard job in which we will collaborate by genetically studying the existing populations and will mean working hard in the countryside, as we were able to verify during these days!

We love this kind of ambitious initiatives in which they work to preserve the amphibians as well as researchers with a lot of attitudes to preserve our biodiversity.  Our friends in LimnoPirineus are very brave to begin this project and we wish them good luck and offer them all of our collaboration.

Calotriton asper
2 Calotriton asper
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