21 July 2024
Mediterranean ecosystem ungulates: Wild and domestic

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Mediterranean Ecosystem Ungulates: Key Players in Sustainable Ecosystems

Wild and domestic ungulates, such as deer and Segureño sheep, have been identified as crucial components in maintaining the sustainability of Mediterranean ecosystems, according to a recent study conducted by researchers from Miguel Hernández University of Elche (UMH). The study, which focused on the Sierra de Cazorla Natural Park in southeast Spain, analyzed the effects of these herbivores on vegetation over a 30-year period using satellite imagery. The findings highlighted the complementary roles of wild and domestic ungulates in ecosystem maintenance and underscored the importance of preserving traditional grazing practices alongside monitoring abandoned agroforestry areas that are undergoing passive rewilding.

The Role of Wild and Domestic Ungulates in Ecosystem Sustainability

The research conducted by UMH scientists revealed that wild and domestic ungulates play distinct but complementary roles in shaping vegetation dynamics within Mediterranean landscapes. While areas with wild herbivores showed a primary productivity driven mainly by annual rainfall, regions with domestic ungulates exhibited a primary productivity influenced by temperature and seasonal precipitation. Additionally, the study identified a secondary succession process leading to the expansion of shrubland areas in locations with only wild ungulates, highlighting the unique effects of these animals on vegetation composition.

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The study emphasized the importance of maintaining both wild and domestic ungulate populations to ensure the sustainable management of Mediterranean landscapes. Traditional transhumant grazing practices were recognized as essential for improving food security and enhancing ecological resilience. By evaluating long-term climate responses and vegetation trends in different herbivory scenarios, researchers sought to provide valuable insights into the conservation and management of these ecosystems in the face of climate change.

Implications for Conservation and Management Strategies

The findings from the study have significant implications for conservation and management strategies in Mediterranean ecosystems. As climate changes continue to impact traditional agropastoral systems, there is a growing need to understand how different herbivore populations contribute to ecosystem dynamics and resilience. By evaluating the effects of wild and domestic ungulates on vegetation biomass and productivity, researchers can inform decision-making processes aimed at preserving biodiversity and cultural landscapes.

The study underscores the importance of integrating traditional grazing practices with passive rewilding efforts to maintain ecosystem balance and support wildlife habitats. As extreme weather events become more frequent and temperatures rise, it is crucial to conduct further research to assess the long-term implications of these changes on Mediterranean landscapes. By advancing our understanding of vegetation dynamics in response to different herbivory scenarios, scientists aim to provide valuable data for guiding sustainable conservation initiatives.

Future Research Directions and Conservation Challenges

Moving forward, future research efforts should focus on expanding our knowledge of how Mediterranean ecosystems will respond to ongoing climate shifts and land use changes. By investigating the interactions between wild and domestic ungulates and their impacts on vegetation composition, researchers can better predict the trajectory of these landscapes and develop targeted conservation strategies. Understanding the long-term climate responses of these ecosystems is essential for ensuring their preservation and resilience in the face of environmental challenges.

Conservation challenges in the Mediterranean region include balancing the preservation of cultural landscapes with the need to protect biodiversity and enhance ecosystem services. By promoting the coexistence of wild and domestic ungulates and supporting sustainable grazing practices, conservationists can work towards maintaining the ecological integrity of these landscapes. Collaborative efforts between researchers, policymakers, and local communities will be crucial in addressing these challenges and safeguarding the unique biodiversity of the Mediterranean ecosystem.

Links to additional Resources:

1. www.sciencedirect.com 2. www.nature.com 3. www.pnas.org

Related Wikipedia Articles

Topics: Mediterranean ecosystem, Ungulates, Sierra de Cazorla Natural Park

Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub
Mediterranean forests, woodlands and scrub is a biome defined by the World Wide Fund for Nature. The biome is generally characterized by dry summers and rainy winters, although in some areas rainfall may be uniform. Summers are typically hot in low-lying inland locations but can be cool near colder seas....
Read more: Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub

Ungulate
Ungulates ( UNG-gyuu-layts, -⁠gyə-, -⁠lits, -⁠ləts) are members of the diverse clade Euungulata ("true ungulates"), which primarily consists of large mammals with hooves. Once part of the clade "Ungulata" along with the clade Paenungulata, "Ungulata" has since been determined to be a polyphyletic and thereby invalid clade based on molecular...
Read more: Ungulate

Sierra de Cazorla (disambiguation)
Sierra de Cazorla, a mountain range of the Prebaetic system Sierra de Cazorla may refer to: Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas Natural Park, a protected area in Spain Sierra de Cazorla (comarca), a comarca in Jaén Province, see Córdoba, Spain
Read more: Sierra de Cazorla (disambiguation)

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