Diversity and singularity of pollinating insects in the Mediterranean heathland or Herriza from the Strait of Gibraltar region (project POLINHER; Fundación Biodiversidad).
January 2020 – December 2021
The Mediterranean heathland or herriza is a representative habitat of the Strait of Gibraltar region (S. Spain, N. Africa). It stands out from other European dry heathlands (habitat 4030 of the European Habitats Directive) by its remarkable plant diversity and endemism richness. In spite of that, the herriza is largely unknown to society or otherwise underappreciated due to one of its main features: a virtual absence of trees. Another key feature of the herriza is its profuse flowering extending almost throughout the year. This is particularly remarkable during autumn-winter months (from october to march) mostly due to two heather species: Calluna vulgaris and Erica australis. Although beekeepers are aware of this unusual flowering phenology for a Mediterranean-type habitat, it must also attract a large pollinating insect fauna.
The project POLINHER, funded by the Spanish Fundación Biodiversidad, will explore the diversity and abundance of insect pollinators in the herriza across seasons over an annual period. The main aims of this project are to (i) uncover the possibly exceptional biodiversity of pollinating insects in the herriza, and (ii) highlight its importance to society as well as its urgent need for conservation.