Diversity and distribution of the animal species found
in high mountain MSS habitats of Sierra de Guadarrama National Park

The Mesovoid Shallow Substratum (MSS) is the term used to refer to the subterranean habitat formed by the network of small voids that can be found in the fragmented bedrock horizon, in colluvial and alluvial deposits, or in volcanic scoria. The ecological and evolutionary importance of this habitat lies mainly in that it is prime habitat for a large number of invertebrate species, including relict and endemic species; many of them are troglobian arthropods which probably evolved in the MSS from their epiedaphic ancestors. The MSS typically shows lower extreme temperatures than outside and a very high relative humidity; given its physical characteristics, the MSS plays an important role as climatic refuge and may act as biogeographic corridor, with important implications in conservation. This is especially true for stone debris, an ecosystem with very special microclimate conditions that promotes the presence of a rich and specific arthropods fauna. This ecosystem typically suffers from little human influence, and both in Europe and in Spain, several natural habitat types of Community Interest are located on stone debris (Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora - The Habitats Directive). Most of the existent knowledge about the subterranean macroinvertebrate fauna of stone debris comes from temperate regions and from studies focused on restricted taxonomic groups, whereas scree slopes in the Mediterranean area have long been ignored. In this project, the subterranean fauna living in stone debris located at high altitude in the Guadarrama National Park will be characterized. The objectives are to obtain inventories as complete as possible, to describe the new arthropod species which will probably be collected, to characterize the ecological roles of the different species, to generate a biodiversity atlas of the macroinvertebrate fauna inhabiting the MSS in the Guadarrama National Park, and to study the
factors that determine the ranges of the species, the richness patterns and the assemblages composition. 

Principal investigator: Vicente M. Ortuño
(University of Alcalá)
My participation: research team