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Doñana's water quality, in danger due to intensive agriculture and a poor residual water treatment

Irene Paredes, researcher of the study

Eutrophication is a major cause of wetland degradation worldwide. In recent decades, reductions in nutrient inputs have led to improvements in water quality in many rivers and lakes in central and northern Europe, but long-term trends are less clear in southern Europe. The Doñana Biological Station conducted the first comprehensive study of water quality in Doñana, one of the most important wetland complexes in Europe and the Mediterranean region.

The core area of Doñana is a large shallow, seasonal marsh (UNESCO World Heritage Site—WHS) that floods during rainy, cool winter months, then dries out during the summer. The marsh is fed by three main streams whose catchments are within a Biosphere Reserve but are impacted by greenhouses (for cultivating fruit, irrigated with groundwater), poorly treated urban wastewaters and tourism.

From 2013 to 2016, the research team monitored nutrient and phytoplankton chlorophyll-a (chla) concentrations in surface waters of the Doñana marsh and the three main streams. They quantified changes in greenhouse cover since 1995 using satellite images. Nutrient concentrations in streams were consistently higher than in the marsh, particularly in the Partido and Rocina streams that regularly reached concentrations equivalent to a "bad physico-chemical status" under the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD), and whose catchments suffered a fivefold expansion of greenhouses from 1995 to 2016.

The Partido was the most polluted stream, and the most affected by wastewater effluents, and had particularly high concentrations of NH4+ and NO2? across seasons. Patterns in chla concentrations were less consistent, but streams generally had higher concentrations than the marsh. Nutrient concentrations in spot samples within the marsh largely depended on a combination of evaporation (as revealed by higher stable isotope ?2H values in the water column) and spatial processes (concentrations increase close to stream entry points, where conductivity is lower).

Anthropogenic nutrient pollution in entry streams is a serious problem in Doñana, with extensive stretches too toxic for fish. Reinforcement of policies aimed at reducing nutrient inputs to Doñana are urgently required to meet the biodiversity conservation and environmental objectives for the WHS and WFD, respectively. Paradoxically, the marsh is currently relied upon to purify the water entering from streams.

informacion[at]ebd.csic.es

Referencia: 

Paredes, I., Ramírez, F., Aragonés, D., Bravo, M.A., G. Forero, M., Green, A.J. (2021). Ongoing anthropogenic eutrophication of the catchment area threatens the Doñana World Heritage Site (South-west Spain). Wetlands Ecology and Management. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11273-020-09766-5

Read the full press release (Spanish)


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Generalized hybridization between commercial and native individuals of bumble bees

Generalized hybridization between commercial and native individuals of bumble bees

Every year more than 1 million commercial bumblebee colonies are deployed in greenhouses worldwide for their pollination services. While commercial pollinators have been an enormous benefit for crop production, their use is emerging as an important threat. Commercial pollinators have been linked to pathogen spillover, and their introduction outside their native area has had devastating effects on native pollinators. A more pervasive but underappreciated threat is their potential impact on the genetic integrity of native pollinators. A sampling and genotyping?plus?phenotyping protocol was set up to evaluate the presence and extent of hybridization between commercial and native individuals of Bombus terrestris in south?western Spain, a region experiencing a huge propagule pressure of non?native genotypes due to the massive use of commercial colonies for crop pollination. Genomic data show clear evidence of generalized hybridization between native and introduced commercial bumblebee lineages in southern Spain. Only 19% of analysed individuals were assigned with high confidence to the pure native genetic cluster and >45% of sampled specimens were first?generation hybrids or backcrosses between native and commercial genotypes, indicating that genetic introgression is pervasive in southern Spain. Although the frequency of commercial genotypes sharply declined with the distance to greenhouses, non?native alleles have introgressed into native populations inhabiting protected natural parks >60 km away from commercial bumblebee release areas. As pollination services demand will increase in the coming years, only a more restrictive regulation of commercial lines could mitigate their negative impacts on the genetic integrity of native pollinators, avoid processes of genetic homogenization, and prevent the potential disruption of local adaptations. informacion[at]ebd.csic.es: Bartomeus et al (2020) Safeguarding the genetic integrity of native pollinators requires stronger regulations on commercial lines. Ecological Solutions and Evidences. Doi 10.1002/2688-8319.12012


https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2688-8319.12012