LABORATORY AND MONITORING STATIONS
Balsa Blanca (contact: Cecilio Oyonarte)
Located at the Cabo de Gata Natural Park in Almería province (Andalucía) in the Southeast Spain (N 36º 56’ 26.0”, W 2º 01’ 58.8”; 200 m.a.s.l.). The climate is semiarid warm Mediterranean. The geomorphology is a series of alluvial fans (glacis) with shallow and saturated in carbonates soils, classified as Lithic Leptosols and Mollic Lithic Leptosols. The vegetation are Macrochloa tenacissima (= Stipa tenacissima) formations (alpha steppes).
The station has an area of 520 ha and is located in the western part of Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park in the southeast of Spain (36 49 '35.69 "N 2 ° 17' 23.73" W; 20 m.a.s.l.). The climate is semiarid warm Mediterranean with an annual mean temperature between 18-22ºC and mean annual precipitation < 200 mm. The area is almost flat but is heavily fractured. Surface lithology is composed by aeolian sands, limestone crusts, and conglomerates and breccias. The vegetation is characterized by arborescent matorrals of Ziziphus, a groundwater dependent ecosystem considered as a priority habitat according to the European Habitats Directive, Mediterranean dunes, and Halonitrophilous communites. In addition, the east portion of the area is occupied by naturalized crops of two exotic species: Agave fourcroydes and A. sisalana. The facilities allow for the study of dynamics of Ziziphus vegetation, changes in the level of groundwater, and biological invasions.