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UB participates in the European project LIFE+ LimnoPirineus to restore and preserve aquatic ecosystems in the Pyrenees

The main objective of LIFE+LimnoPirineus is to improve the conservation status of habitats like peat bogs, tufa-forming springs, rivers and lakes in high mountains. Photo: A. Miró

The main objective of LIFE+LimnoPirineus is to improve the conservation status of habitats like peat bogs, tufa-forming springs, rivers and lakes in high mountains. Photo: A. Miró

The project LIFE+ LimnoPirineus will be carried out between 2014 and 2019.  Photo: A. Miró

The project LIFE+ LimnoPirineus will be carried out between 2014 and 2019. Photo: A. Miró

29/05/2014

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LIFE+ LimnoPirineus starts on 1 June. It is a project coordinated by the Centre for Advanced Studies of Blanes (CEAB-CSIC) that aims at restoring aquatic habitats and species in high mountains of the Pyrenees. Experts from the University of Barcelona (UB) participate in the project.

The project LIFE+ LimnoPirineus, which will be carried out between 2014 and 2019, has a budget of 2.6 million euros —the European Union funds 55% of the budget (1.4 million euros). The research group from UB is composed by Empar Carrillo, Josep M. Ninot, and Aaron Pérez Haase, from the Department of Plant Biology and the Biodiversity Research Institute of UB (IRBio).

Habitats and species at risk

The main objective of LIFE+LimnoPirineus is to improve the conservation status of habitats like peat bogs, tufa-forming springs, rivers and lakes in high mountains. Among targeted species we found some amphibian species such as the common frog, the toad and the Pyrenean brook salamander, the aquatic plant Luronium natans and the bullhead (Cottus hispaniolensis), a threatened fish species that inhabits Garonne basin. The project will be developed in three sites of the network Natura 2000: Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park, Alt Pirineu Natural Park and Estanho de Vielha in Vall d’Aran.

Empar Carrillo, who leads UB participation in the project, explains that “the group will work on marshes and peat bogs that surround lakes and ravines in order to identify threats and advice about conservation actions to be implemented”. These aquatic habitats have been impacted negatively by excessive livestock pressure, tourism and hydraulic woks. “Another objective —adds Carrillo— is to recover and reduce species extinction risk —for instance, the aquatic plant Luronium natans—, which is due to the effects of population isolation”. 

Marc Ventura, researcher from the Department of Continental Ecology of CEAB-CSIC and general coordinator of the project, points out that “the main threats to these habitats and species are the introduction and proliferation of alien invasive fish species, which have a negative impact on allochthonous species”.

Besides UB, project’s partners are: the Conselh Generau d'Aran, the Catalan Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, Food, and the Natural Environment, and the companies Forestal Catalana and Sorelló Estudis al Medi Aquàtic. Lleida Provincial Council co-funds the project which is also supported by the Catalan Institution of Natural History, the Autonomous Authority for National Parks (OAPN), the Institute for the Development and Promotion of Alt Pirineu and Aran (IDAPA), the Catalan Federation of Sport Fishing, Endesa Generación, the association Lo Pi Negre and the owner communities of Ison and Estallo.  

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