Gallardo-Mayenco & Shaw: Paper on Endemic Species of the Campo

During this weekend's conference 'IX Jornadas de Flora, Fauna y Ecología del Campo de Gibraltar' held in the Finca la Alcaidesa in San Roque Dr Alfonso Gallardo-Mayenco and Dr Eric Shaw from Helping Hand Trust presented a paper on endemic species in the Campo de Gibraltar.

With Dr Gallardo-Mayenco being an authority on microinvertebrates and both of them being members of the hosting organisation 'Instituto de Estudios Campogibraltarenos' (IECG) they have been researching the microinvertebrates of the Campo for more than five years. With their paper 'Sobre biodiversidad y endemismos en las aguas interiores del Campo de Gibraltar' they attempt to give an overview over the endemic species of the area and explained why so many of them have not been identified or researched.

According to their research the currently existing species in the South Iberian Peninsula and the north of Africa are the results of a geological process which has started more than five million years ago: Back then these areas where not yet divided and formed one big terrain, only later they separated due to continental drifts. Consequently, some of the occurring species in these two areas are still similar or identical today.

At the present time 241 species and subspecies have been identified in the Campo de Gibraltar, 22% of them are endemic or can be found in the Campo and the north of Africa only. Yet, Eric and Dr Gallardo-Mayenco emphasised on their belief that there are far more species which have not yet been identified. They argue that there is a significant lack of resources for those interested in research: Firstly, qualifications as precondition for authorised identification are costly.

Secondly, the respective fulltime positions at universities are limited. Thirdly, the conventional degree of specialisation on one species makes a broader approach on identification of new species difficult. Sometimes there is only one specialist available in order to categorise a species, for some species there are no specialists at all. Eric and Dr Gallardo-Mayenco have found out that the majority of specialists are school teachers who only work part-time in their field of study. Due to their other commitments they need more time for independent research or for giving an evaluation of material they have been approached with. So at times science is signifcantly slowed down or even brought to a temporarily halt.

The researchers emphasised, they hope that more research on these 'missing' species will follow and welcome new information on the subject of study!