Welcome to the blog of the Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences at the University of Northampton. This will keep you up to date with both student and staff activities.

The Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences includes staff with interests in biological sciences, conservation, ecology, environmental sciences, environmental statistics, geography and waste management. We offer a range of degree programmes and have a number of postgraduate research students. For more information about studying with us please visit http://www.northampton.ac.uk/.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Fire and water in Tenerife!

Students who attended the 13th annual Department field trip to Tenerife in early May were greeted with a stunning example of the power of nature to recover following devastating natural events.

When the previous cohort of students, led by Professor Jeff Ollerton, were on the island in 2013, the native pine forest on the mountain slopes south of Las CaƱadas looked black and bare, having burned a few months previously in one of the frequent fires which naturally occur in this environment.

As you can see in these first two photographs from April 2013, trunks of the endemic Canary Island Pine Tree (Pinus canariensis) were blackened, most of the foliage had burned off, and the shrubs growing in this habitat were mostly destroyed.

Twelve months later, following one of the wettest winters that Tenerife has experienced, the field course was greeted with a sight of rejuvenation. The pine trees are re-sprouting and the landscape is full of colour as plants such as Erysimum scoparium, Echium wildpretii and Argyranthemum tenerifae flower in abundance. There are also more butterflies than have previously been seen in these habitats.

From fire and rain comes new life and new beginnings, a positive environmental stimulus for the endemic biodiversity of Tenerife. The fire has opened up the vegetation, allowing seeds to germinate, and the winter rain has stimulated growth and flowering in these summer-drought habitats. It provided the students with a great example of how the ecology of such dry, subtropical habitats is affected by both climate and fire.