A trip to the ecologically biodiverse oceanic island of Tenerife, funded by the Santander Travel Fund. - PDF

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A trip to the ecologically biodiverse oceanic island of Tenerife, funded by the Santander Travel Fund. Having been awarded 600, I was able to fund the 6-day educational biology field course to Tenerife,
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A trip to the ecologically biodiverse oceanic island of Tenerife, funded by the Santander Travel Fund. Having been awarded 600, I was able to fund the 6-day educational biology field course to Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands of Spain, where I was exposed to one of the most biologically diverse hotspots worlds. Travelling with some of the top botanist professors of the world from the Oxford Biological Sciences Department, I was able to further my understanding of the aspects of evolutionary diversification, biogeography and patterns of endemism. Tenerife has a distinct orography, with the highest elevation of the islands in the Atlantic ocean and housing the 3rd largest volcano in the world (Teide), leading to a remarkable extent of biological heterogeneity. We were able to view this directly, being able to study the evolutionary adaptations to the wealth of microclimates (ecological and habitual settings) that gives rise to the largest number of endemic species in Europe, a consequence to these unique environmental. We travel around all sides of the oceanic island, experiencing the switch from semi-jungle to semi-desert. This change in the climate controlled through the exposure of the densely humid northeast tradewinds and the dry southern current is moderating the temperature. These winds bring in the Sea of Clouds, which roll in engulfing the forest zone of the island. In this region includes ancient thermophilous woodland, Laurel forest and commercial Pine forest. When visiting the flat xerophytic zone, experienced coastal sub-desert scrub, dominated by the highly adapted succulents and sclerophyllous shrubs. Using my trusty hand lens (which I refused to part with at the end of the trip), I got to see up close the adaptations these organisms have protected themselves with, being careful with the euphorbias due to their irritant and potentially blinking latex. The high mountainous subalpine zone found summit scrub, dominated by a few species of Fabaceae shrubs, however on the highest slopes of Teide only found the endemic and highly specialised Viola cheiranthifolia. We walked around the top of Teide, and while dealing with the little oxygen and strong sulphur, were able to view the three shield volcanos (flattened islands) which were joined by Teide to produce the triangle island of Tenerife, and the fresh lava gouges, leaving strips of uncolonized barren rock. With the help of professors and lecturers, I was able to learn vast depths of knowledge on the formation and current state of this oceanic islands. Including the huge anthropogenic impacts from the growing tourism industry and threats such as invasive species endanger the island s ecology. Interesting there was a massive increase in agricultural uses of land, specifically bananas, Tenerife being a major exporter of this fruit. We saw the vast development of the majority of the island and got to visit some of the few spots of the island untouched by anthropogenic effects. Introduced to Tenerife university s best biologists, spend every day out in the field experiencing a new and exotic ecosystem and climate (Tenerife had so many!), I learnt how to identify some of the 1,613 vascular plant species present on the island. Visiting the botanical islands, I was bowled over the collection there, and the largest Ficus tree of Europe, enormous aerial roots descending like multiple trunks. I was able to fulfil my aims of exploration and study of the biological variety, gaining an abundance of knowledge from the observation of current and ever-changing natural situation of this Mediterranean island. With the increasing population, climate change and the constant tectonic movement of continental drift, the present biodiversity and biological conditions of the island is not going to stay the same. I got to see a snapshot of the precious ecosystems only in existence in Tenerife before further damage and change ensues. Oceanic islands have a life cycle, and I got to see Tenerife at its peak. Thank you so much for your support and generosity. You made this possible for me, and I am so grateful for all the experiences and biological knowledge I have gained from this trip. Thank you.
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