"Temporary Ponds: a natural habitat to be protected!"

May was the month of biodiversity in Odemira

> During this month it took place a number of guided field trips


During the month of May (2015) it took place a number of guided field trips to promote the habitat and raise awareness as well as environmental education about the biodiversity of the Mediterranean Temporary Ponds in Odemira. This was due three international dates: Fascination of Plants Day (18/5), the Natura 2000 Day (21/5) and the International Day for Biological Diversity (22/5).

Therefore, the Liga para a Protecção da Natureza (LPN) and the Odemira Municipality promoted three events related to LIFE Charcos Project and the biodiversity presented in this particular habitat such as bats, plants and amphibians.

On Saturday night, May 9th, a session to raise awareness about bats was presented to about 45 participants. After the sunset, bats begin their nocturnal activity and Mediterranean Temporary Ponds are part of their favorite habitat where these small flying mammals use it to drink water and feed on nocturnal insects. Tiago Marques, from University of Évora, explained some important facts about this group of interesting animals such as its biology and ecology. Here we learned that these small animals are guided by ultrasound. Thus, they emit and receive sounds that are reflected by objects around them. Each bat species emits a sound of high frequency and imperceptible to humans, characteristic of its kind. So in the guided field trip, ultrasound detectors were used in order to inform us of their presence and also give us clues about what species they belong to.

On the afternoon of the following Saturday, May 16th, we celebrate the fascination of plants of the temporary ponds. The growing knowledge about plants, their ecological and landscape importance or their various uses have increasingly awakened humanity to the fascination of plants. The natural habitat of Mediterranean Temporary Ponds offers a set of unique plants with high conservation status, living in extreme ecological conditions that alter throughout the year between submerged soils in winter and dry in summer. Thus, Carla Pinto Cruz, scientific coordinator of the LIFE Charcos Project, guided us in a walking tour around this interesting habitat. The 40 participants met in the Camping Park in Sitava, near Vila Nova de Milfontes, for an theoretical session and afterwards we departed towards a complex of ponds where they made the identification of various species of this group such as Eryngium corniculatum or the Pinguicula Lusitanica, a small carnivorous plant that completes it feeding needs with small insects that get glued to their leaves.

The program was concluded on May 23th with another nocturnal adventure entitled "Discover the amphibians from the Southwest". Amphibians are one of the most important ecological groups in temporary ponds. They have nocturnal activity to protect themselves from the sun and from predators. So it was in the moonlight that we walk with Edgar Gomes, from LPN, to discovery amphibians in the surrounding of a particular temporary pond. This activity was attended by about two dozen of participants including some children that with flashlight in hand they found some interesting amphibian species.

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