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The pollen counts as bioindicator of meteorological trends and tool for assessing the status of endangered species: the case of Artemisia in Sierra Nevada (Spain)

Abstract

This study sought to analyse the effects of climate change on Artemisia species growing in Sierra Nevada, a high mountain range in the south-east of the Iberian Peninsula, using pollen counts as a bioindicator. The study also examined the impact of Recovery Programmes implemented for the most endangered of these species. Analysis of historical Artemisia pollen-data series from 1992 to 2011 showed that flowering took place between late July and late September, but the trend towards higher summer temperatures detected over the series as a whole appeared to have delayed the start of flowering and brought forward the end of flowering, thus prompting a shortening of the season. A trend was also observed towards a delayed peak pollen period, together with a significant decline in the Annual Pollen Index, which was significantly influenced by rainfall over the months immediately prior to flowering. Recovery Programmes implemented for three species—Artemisia granatensis, A. alba subsp. nevadensis and A. umbelliformis—involved conservation measures including direct seeding and planting of seedlings. From the outset, these programmes led to a recovery of the Pollen Index, especially when using germinated seedlings, which adapted better than seeds to environmental conditions. In conclusion, pollen records proved to be a useful tool for assessing the status of endangered species.

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Acknowledgments

The authors are grateful to the Department of Innovation, Science and Enterprise, Regional Government of Andalusia, for financial support through Project P10-RNM-5958, and to the Andalusia High Peaks Flora Recovery Programme implemented by the Environment and Water Agency, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and the Environment, Regional Government of Andalusia.

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Correspondence to Paloma Cariñanos.

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Cariñanos, P., Díaz de la Guardia, C., Algarra, J.A. et al. The pollen counts as bioindicator of meteorological trends and tool for assessing the status of endangered species: the case of Artemisia in Sierra Nevada (Spain). Climatic Change 119, 799–813 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-013-0751-2

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-013-0751-2

Keywords

  • Pollen Season
  • Pollen Count
  • Airborne Pollen
  • Pollen Index
  • Recovery Programme