Monday, 1 October 2012

Field trip in Azores, Terceira island: 25-28th september 2012

An expedition in Terceira island (Azores)  along an elevational gradient took place between the 25th and 28th of September 2012. The team was composed by Pr. Dr. Rosalina Gabriel, Márcia Coelho, Raquel Hernández, Débora Henriques and by Fernando Pereira.
This study of this gradient in the Azores is carried out in the framework of Débora’s PhD (University of Azores). Raquel (PhD student in Canaries) joined the Azorean team to be trained on the collecting methodology of the Moveclim project.
The weather was good, allowing the fieldwork to proceed within 4 days. Six altitudes were sampled along the gradient from 40 to 1000 m. This transect was set up along the western side of the island.
We briefly describe here the sampling sites and illustrate the gradient with some photographs:
40 m – Serreta lighthouse
Vegetation is composed of shrubs (scrubland). Bryophytes are more abundant on rocks, the canopy is low < 2m. The vascular flora is dominated by Erica azorica and Myrica faya.

Pix: Vegetation type of the lowland (M. Coelho)

200 m – Canada das Covas – Serreta
The forest was unfortunately dominated by non-native Pittosporum undulatum, but also by native trees like Erica azorica and Myrica faya
Pix: Bryophytes were there mainly recorded on the rocks ( R. Gabriel)

400 m – Pico Carneiro - Serreta
Forest system, the canopy is higher (maximum of 6 m). Vegetation is dominated by Pittosporum undulatum (70%). Erica azorica, Juniperus brevifolia and Myrica faya were also present but in lower quantities (25-30%).
Pix: Raquel on the field in Pico Carneiro-Serrata (R. Gabriel)

600 m – Pico da Lagoinha – Serreta
Forest vegetation dominated by Laurus azorica (40%), Juniperus brevifolia (30%) and Ilex azorica (30%). Cover of bryophytes is predominant on the soil (100%) but also very significant in trees (75%).

800 m – Trail to Lagoa do Pinheiro - Serreta
Forest system with trees up to 4 m high. Juniperus brevifolia and Ilex azorica were the most frequent trees composing the native vegetation together with Laurus azorica and Vaccinium cylindraceum. Bryophytes were more common in the trees (95%) and in the soil (75%).
Pix: Sphagnum sp in Lagoa do Pinheiro-Serrata (M. Coelho)
1000 m –Serra de Santa Bárbara
Serra de Santa Bárbara is a Natural reserve of 1863 ha with the highest peak at 1021 m. The vegetation is dominated by scrubland; bryophyte cover is predominant on the soil and schrubs. Vascular species are < 2 m high. Juniperus brevifolia and Calluna vulgaris dominate the plant composition, Hymenophyllum sp. is also abundant.
Pix: Bazzania azorica and filmy ferns (R. Gabriel)

Pix: Vegetation type in Serra de Santa Barbara (M. Coelho)

Three other islands of the Azores will be explored along an elevational gradient in the framework of Débora's PhD thesis, the rest of the field work will take place in mid 2013. Samples of the Pico and Terceira gradients are now being curated and processed for analysis at the University of Azores.

Text and Photographs: Dr. Rosalina Gabriel, Márcia Coelho, Débora Henriques, Raquel Hernández.

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