Invertebrates

Posted in Fauna

Graellsia isabellaeThe invertebrates are the group having a species highest number in the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park. Its high diversity and adaptability to the environment climatic conditions -low temperatures, high snowfall and rainfall, strong winds and high solar radiation - shorten its biological cycle. These extreme variables have led to fundamentally different adaptive strategies in insects, from singular shapes and reduced sizes to the most diverse range of colors, such as the ornamentation of coleopteran elytra or the striking chromatism of butterflies.

In the National Park, spring and summer are time par excellence for a show: a period when insect larvae, after spending winter under the ground, snow and ice, emerge in their adult stages. This metamorphosis process all insects share, causes an explosion of life and triggers a race against time to ensure descent in years to come.

Within this invertebrate fauna, the group having a greatest biodiversity is the one of arthropods, headed by the insect class. However, there are other less abundant but very interesting groups, such as molluscs and crustaceans, mainly ln the National Park wetlands.

Among the molluscs are Pisidium casertanum, characteristic in Peñalara Massif wetlands and National Park water streams. It is a bivalve about 4-5 mm long and under 4 mm width. It proliferates in lentic habitats loamy areas, and it has a cosmopolitan distribution throughout Europe.

Crustaceans, a class of arthropods, are typical of the National Park quiet waters ecosystems. They are usually small invertebrates including, among others, species from Daphnia, Ceriodaphnia, Alona, and Chidorus genera. Perhaps one of the most striking crustaceans is Chirocephalus diaphanus, an anostracean about 37 mm long with a Palearctic distribution. In the National Park, it is distributed in temporary lake systems having oligotrophic waters, and it comes to survive to over 2,100 m heights. Their populations appear in summer, when the snowpack is removed from the mountain wetlands. It is monocyclic, so its eggs need a period of drying prior to hatching.

As mentioned, the largest and most representative group the one from the insects. It is globally estimated that 70% to 80% of living beings are insects. Currently 900,000 insects species are known worldwide. For the Sierra de Guadarrama, the species range estimated number is 15,000 to 20,000 insects, ie, 1.65% of the world total and 35.5% of the insects in the Iberian Peninsula.

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