Oceanic islands harbor a disproportionate fraction of terrestrial biodiversity in relation to their reduced contribution to emerged lands. This diversity is very fragile and extremely sensitive to the impact of human pressure and the species that we bring with. Not surprisingly, the arrival of humans to islands is followed by numerous extinctions, no matter the size of the island and the biome. But in some cases, instead of becoming extinct, island species are restricted to marginal habitats where they scape from the impact of humans, natural hazards or invasive species. When these species are keystone taxa, their population shrinkage may lead to deep changes in ecosystem functioning. In this project, we explore the role of Canary cedar (Juniperus cedrus) as a former key component of the Teide National Park, in the midst of Tenerife island (Canary Islands, North Atlantic Ocean) by using dendrochronology and radiocarbon dating. Our aim is to discern whether these large shrubs, or small trees, were once able to form forests that could have covered the currently treeless landscape. The study is funded by the National Park, who intend to identify missing taxa in the Teide’s shrubland in order to promote the recovery of their former ecological role, with the ultimate goal of recovering former island ecosystems.
Project funded by Teide National Park and Cabildo de Tenerife.
- García-Cervigón AI, García-Hidalgo M, Martín-Esquivel JL, Rozas V, Sangüesa-Barreda G, Olano JM (2019) The Patriarch: a Canary Islands juniper that has survived human pressure and volcanic activity for a millennium. Ecology 100: e02780
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