Spiral Sunday #32 – from the Guimar Badlands of Darwin’s Unrequited Isle

Guimar spiral.png

Our annual undergraduate Tenerife Field Course ends today and later I will say goodbye to the students and my University of Northampton colleagues Janet Jackson and Paul Cox: I’m staying on for another 10 days with Karin to do some additional field work.  The apartment complex where we were located had very poor wifi so I’ve not been able to post much, but we’ve moved now and I’ll try to do more in the coming week.

For Spiral Sunday this week here’s a shot of the logo for one of the protected areas that we always visit, and one of my favourite places on Tenerife: the stunning Malpais de Guimar (Guimar Badlands).

As you can see from the image below, the Guimar Badlands is a fascinating area of xerophytic scrub containing plants that are adapted to very low water levels.  It’s always the first site that we visit with the students, providing a great contrast to any habitats that they might have encountered in Britain.  A perfect introduction to Darwin’s Unrequited Isle.

Guimar 2014.png

6 thoughts on “Spiral Sunday #32 – from the Guimar Badlands of Darwin’s Unrequited Isle

    1. jeffollerton Post author

      Yes, there are similarities with phrygana, but the African influence means there’s a much higher proportion of succulent species in genera such as Euphorbia, Kleinia, various Crassulaceae, etc.

      Reply
  1. Clem

    Jeff, do you know whether anyone has noted if any of the xerophytic flora have halophytic assets as well? Is the picture of the windward or leeward side of the island?

    Reply
    1. Clem

      Checked out your post from 2012 linked here and note the comments about halophytes for the first 90 meters off the coastline. That goes a long way toward answering my question above, but I still wonder about degrees of sensitivity vs competitive advantage. Perhaps this isn’t something you can look into during a visit such as this, but are there species (facultative halophytes for lack of a better nomenclature) which might demonstrate sufficient phenotypic plasticity to encroach a saltier habitat than they might otherwise inhabit?

      Reply
      1. jeffollerton Post author

        Yes, there are definitely species that are strictly halophytic and only found close to the shore, but others (such as Euphorbia balsamifera) that can exist close to shore and much further inland. At the moment we know what the patterns are but not the processes: that would require transplant experiments that are not easy to do in these habitats and beyond the scope of a one-week field course. Interesting question though.

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