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Universidad Complutense de Madrid (2013)

Soil-water system response in an anthropized mediterranean wetland during drying cycles : las Tablas de Daimiel National Park

Aguilera Alonso, Héctor

Titre : Soil-water system response in an anthropized mediterranean wetland during drying cycles : las Tablas de Daimiel National Park

Auteur : Aguilera Alonso, Héctor

Université de soutenance : Universidad Complutense de Madrid

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy 2013

Résumé partiel
The semiarid wetland area of Las Tablas de Daimiel National Park (TDNP) is located in central Spain. The peculiar mix of water qualities and geographical location conferred TDNP a special relevance among European wetland areas as an ecological refuge for singular waterfowl and plant species. This ecosystem linked to groundwater dynamics (former discharge area) was recognized as Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO and included in the Ramsar Agreement under the category of Wetlands of International Importance. Since the 1960s strong human intervention and disturbance has led to system denaturalization (ditching, damming, pollution, artificial drainage and flooding etc). Mainly due to excessive groundwater pumping for irrigation in the Mancha Plain region coupled to inherent climatic variability in semiarid Mediterranean environments, the wetland area was disconnected from the underlying aquifer system and now suffers from alternating flooding and drainage cycles. This process induces severe impacts and modifications in the ecological characteristics of the wetland, both in the biotic as well as the abiotic environment. From a hydrogeological point of view the hydraulic gradient shifted from upward to downward, turning TDNP into a recharge area. The most striking representative of human-induced degradation on TDNP physical-chemical structure is the process of peat cracking, subsidence and fire caused by desiccation. Artificial management aiming to sustain flooding conditions has also contributed to system disturbance and degradation turning the wetland into a regulated system of connected reservoirs which operates as an aquifer recharge area sustained through water transfers and groundwater pumping. One of the main limitations for suitable TDNP management has been the lack of precise knowledge of the physical and hydrological environments, particularly below the wetland surface.

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