Ilha do Pico

Pico Island is the highest, youngest (0.25 MY), second largest (445 km2), island of the Azorean archipelago (Forjaz 2004). In spite of a population of 14,806 inhabitants (Censos 2001), Pico Island still has remarkable areas of natural vegetation, at different altitudinal levels (Sjögren 1973; Homem 2005).
Pico Island has attracted attention from botanists, and a number of publications concern diversity and distribution of species on the montain slopes (e.g. Sjögren, 1978). Currently there are 285 species and subspecies of bryophytes described to Pico (480 in the Azores; Gabriel et al. 2010) and 58 species of ferns and allies (76 in the Azores; Borges et al. 2010). Considering the areas of native vegetation still present on the island, these figures will probably increase with more investigations. The proposed field work in Pico would be to make an elevationnal transect from the East zone (Piedade), where there are some coastal shrubs and rocky vegetation to the highest point (Piquinho), crossing some of the most interesting botanical areas (Mistério da Prainha, Caveiro, Caiado). This transect, of about 32 km, includes some grassland areas, but remarkably few human settlements.