J.M. García-Ruiz

Spanish National Research Council, Madrid, Madrid, Spain

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Publications (112)138.1 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: We use high quality climate data from ground meteorological stations in the Iberian Peninsula (IP) and robust drought indices to confirm that drought severity has increased in the past five decades, as a consequence of greater atmospheric evaporative demand resulting from temperature rise. Increased drought severity is independent of the model used to quantify the reference evapotranspiration. We have also focused on drought impacts to drought-sensitive systems, such as river discharge, by analyzing streamflow data for 287 rivers in the IP, and found that hydrological drought frequency and severity have also increased in the past five decades in natural, regulated and highly regulated basins. Recent positive trend in the atmospheric water demand has had a direct influence on the temporal evolution of streamflows, clearly identified during the warm season, in which higher evapotranspiration rates are recorded. This pattern of increase in evaporative demand and greater drought severity is probably applicable to other semiarid regions of the world, including other Mediterranean areas, the Sahel, southern Australia and South Africa, and can be expected to increasingly compromise water supplies and cause political, social and economic tensions among regions in the near future.
    Environmental Research Letters 01/2014; 9(4):044001. · 3.58 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We use high quality climate data from ground meteorological stations in the Iberian Peninsula (IP) and robust drought indices to confirm that drought severity has increased in the past five decades, as a consequence of greater atmospheric evaporative demand resulting from temperature rise. Increased drought severity is independent of the model used to quantify the reference evapotranspiration. We have also focused on drought impacts to drought-sensitive systems, such as river discharge, by analyzing streamflow data for 287 rivers in the IP, and found that hydrological drought frequency and severity have also increased in the past five decades in natural, regulated and highly regulated basins. Recent positive trend in the atmospheric water demand has had a direct influence on the temporal evolution of streamflows, clearly identified during the warm season, in which higher evapotranspiration rates are recorded. This pattern of increase in evaporative demand and greater drought severity is probably applicable to other semiarid regions of the world, including other Mediterranean areas, the Sahel, southern Australia and South Africa, and can be expected to increasingly compromise water supplies and cause political, social and economic tensions among regions in the near future.
    Environmental Research Letters 01/2014; 9(4):044001. · 3.58 Impact Factor
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    Cuadernos de Investigación Geográfica. 01/2014; 40(1):191-214.
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    ABSTRACT: Streamflows in a Mediterranean mountain basin in the central Spanish Pyrenees were projected under various climate and land use change scenarios. Streamflow series projected for 2021-2050 were used to simulate the management of the Yesa reservoir, which is critical to the downstream supply of irrigation and domestic water. Streamflows were simulated using the Regional Hydro-Ecologic Simulation System (RHESSys). The results show that increased forest cover in the basin could decrease annual streamflow by 16%, mainly in early spring, summer and autumn. Regional climate models (RCMs) project a trend of warming and drying in the basin for the period 2021-2050, which will cause a 13.8% decrease in annual streamflow, mainly in late spring and summer. The combined effects of forest regeneration and climate change are expected to reduce annual streamflows by 29.6%, with marked decreases affecting all months with the exception of January and February, when the decline will be moderate. Under these streamflow reduction scenarios it is expected that it will be difficult for the Yesa reservoir to meet the current water demand, based on its current storage capacity (476hm(3)). If the current project to enlarge the reservoir to a capacity of 1059hm(3) is completed, the potential to apply multi-annual streamflow management, which will increase the feasibility of maintaining the current water supply. However, under future climate and land cover scenarios, reservoir storage will rarely exceed half of the expected capacity, and the river flows downstream of the reservoir is projected to be dramatically reduced.
    Science of The Total Environment 09/2013; · 3.26 Impact Factor
  • Geomorphology 08/2013; · 2.58 Impact Factor
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    Estela Nadal-Romero, Teodoro Lasanta, José M. García-Ruiz
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    ABSTRACT: In this study we analyzed runoff and sediment yield from land under various traditional and current land uses in Mediterranean mountain areas, using long-term data from an experimental station in the Aísa Valley, Central Spanish Pyrenees. Monitoring at this station has provided 20 years of data that can help explain the hydrological and geomorphological changes that have been observed at larger spatial scales, and also the changes that have occurred to some of the most characteristic landscapes of the Mediterranean middle mountains. In spite of the problems associated with the use of small experimental plots, the results obtained are consistent with other studies in the Mediterranean region, and confirm the strong influence of land use changes on runoff generation and sediment yield. The results indicate that: (i) cereal cultivation on steep slopes (both alternating cereal cultivation and fallow on sloping fields and shifting agriculture on the steepest slopes) represents a major problem for soil conservation. This explains the occurrence throughout the Mediterranean mountains of many degraded hillslopes, which show evidence of sheet wash erosion, rilling, gullying and shallow landsliding; (ii) farmland abandonment has led to a marked reduction in runoff and sediment yield as a consequence of rapid plant recolonization, particularly by dense shrubs; (iii) the natural transformation of abandoned fields into grazing meadows has reduced runoff and sediment yield. Land use trends in the Mediterranean mountains are mainly characterized by generalized farmland abandonment and a decrease in livestock pressure. From a hydrological and geomorphological point of view the main consequences have been a reduction in overland flow from the hillslopes, and a reduction in sediment sources, with differences up to one order of magnitude in sediment yield from dense shrub cover and grazing meadow areas compared with areas under shifting agriculture. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
    Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 03/2013; 38(4):346-355. · 2.49 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: deposits in the Aragón Valley, central-western Pyrenees: chronology of the Pyrenean late Pleistocene glaciers. ABSTRACT. The Aragón Valley glacier (Central Western Pyrenees) has been studied since the late nineteenth century and has become one of the best areas in the Pyrenees to study the occurrence of Pleistocene glaciations and the relation-ships between moraines and fluvial terraces. New morpho-logical studies and absolute ages for moraines and fluvial terraces in the Aragón Valley allow a correlation with other Pyrenean glaciers and provide solid chronologies about the asynchroneity between global last glacial maximum (LGM) and the maximum ice extent (MIE). Six frontal arcs and three lateral morainic ridges were identified in the Villanúa basin terminal glacial complex. The main moraines (M1 and M2) correspond to two glacial stages (oxygen isotopic stages MIS 6 and MIS 4), dated at 171 22 ka and 68 7 ka, respec-tively. From a topographical point of view, moraine M1 appears to be linked to the 60 m fluvioglacial terrace, dated in a tributary of the Aragón River at 263 21 ka. The dif-ference in age between M1 moraine and the 60 m fluviogla-cial terrace suggests that the latter belongs to an earlier glacial stage (MIS 8). Moraine M2 was clearly linked to the fluvioglacial 20 m terrace. Other minor internal moraines were related to the 7–8 m terrace. The dates obtained for the last glacial cycle (20–18 ka) are similar to other chronolo-gies for Mediterranean mountains, and confirm the occur-rence of an early MIE in the Central Pyrenees that does not coincide with the global LGM.
    Geografiska Annaler Series A Physical Geography 01/2013; 95:15-32. · 1.67 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Intense erosion processes are widespread in the Mediterranean region, and include sheet wash erosion, rilling, gullying, shallow landsliding, and the development of large and active badlands in both subhumid and semi-arid areas. This review analyses the main environmental and human features related to soil erosion processes, and the main factors that explain the extreme variability of factors influencing soil erosion, particularly recent land use changes. The importance of erosion in the Mediterranean is related to the long history of human activity in a region characterized by low levels of annual precipitation, the occurrence of intense rainstorms and long-lasting droughts, high evapotranspiration, the presence of steep slopes and the occurrence of recent tectonic activity, together with the recurrent use of fire, overgrazing and farming. These factors have resulted in a complex landscape in which intensification and abandonment, wealth and poverty can co-exist. The changing conditions of national and international markets and the evolution of population pressure are now the main drivers explaining land use changes, including farmland abandonment in mountain areas, the expansion of some subsidized crops to marginal lands, and the development of new terraces affected by landslides and intense soil erosion during extreme rainstorm events. The occurrence of human-related forest fires affecting thousands of hectares each year is a significant problem in both the northern and southern areas of the Mediterranean basin. Here, we highlight the rise of new scientific challenges in controlling the negative consequences of soil erosion in the Mediterranean region: 1) to reduce the effects and extent of forest fires, and restructure the spatial organization of abandoned landscapes; 2) to provide guidance for making the EU agricultural policy more adapted to the complexity and fragility of Mediterranean environments; 3) to develop field methods and models to improve the identification of runoff and sediment contributing areas; 4) to contribute to the conservation of landscapes (i.e. bench-terraced fields) having high cultural and productivity values; 5) to improve knowledge of the hydrological and geomorphological functioning of badlands, with the aim of reducing sediment yield and accessibility; 6) to better understand the effect of climate change on soil erosion in the Mediterranean region; and 7) to improve quantitative information on long-term soil erosion.
    Geomorphology 01/2013; · 2.58 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: An exceptional rainfall and hydrological event occurred on 19–21 October 2012 in the central western Pyrenees and was particularly significant in the Upper Aragón River basin and its tributaries, mainly the Irati River. Analysis of historical records showed that, considered separately, the event of 19 and 20 October ranked between the second and fifth highest most extreme daily precipitation events. For the two days combined (with a total between 200 and 260 mm), the precipitation event was the most extreme 2-day event among all observation stations but one. The consequent flood destroyed part of an urban area, and a long stretch of a national road triggered landslides, enlarged the alluvial plain and caused generalised soil erosion in cultivated fields cropped with winter cereals. Badlands in the marls of the Inner Depression yielded high volumes of sediment. The floods in the tributaries were relatively moderate (return periods of 14–42 years), whereas in the Upper Aragón River, the flood corresponded to a return period of approximately 400–500 years and to 142 years at the end of the Yesa reservoir, although difficulties in estimating the discharge increased the uncertainty of these values. The Yesa and Itoiz reservoirs considerably reduced the intensity of the flood in the middle and lower Aragón River and confirmed the importance of the water level in the reservoirs when such rainfall events occur. The water storage in the Yesa reservoir increased from 16% to 53% as a consequence of the event. More integrated studies are necessary to decrease the risks associated with flood hazards. This is particularly the case in mountain areas, where the steep slopes and longitudinal gradients of the rivers shorten the concentration time of floods and increase the energy that erodes channels and riverbanks.
    Land Degradation and Development 01/2013; · 1.99 Impact Factor
  • Estela Nadal-Romero, Teodoro Lasanta, José María García-Ruiz
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In this study we analyzed runoff and sediment yield from land under various traditional and current land uses in Mediterranean mountain areas, using long-term data from an experimental station in the Aísa Valley, Central Spanish Pyrenees. Monitoring at this station has provided 20 years of data that can help explain the hydrological and geomorphological changes that have been observed at larger spatial scales, and also the changes that have occurred to some of the most characteristic landscapes of the Mediterranean middle mountains. In spite of the problems associated with the use of small experimental plots, the results obtained are consistent with other studies in the Mediterranean region, and confirm the strong influence of land use changes on runoff generation and sediment yield. The results indicate that: (i) cereal cultivation on steep slopes (both alternating cereal cultivation and fallow on sloping fields and shifting agriculture on the steepest slopes) represents a major problem for soil conservation. This explains the occurrence throughout the Mediterranean mountains of many degraded hillslopes, which show evidence of sheet wash erosion, rilling, gullying and shallow landsliding; (ii) farmland abandonment has led to a marked reduction in runoff and sediment yield as a consequence of rapid plant recolonization, particularly by dense shrubs; (iii) the natural transformation of abandoned fields into grazing meadows has reduced runoff and sediment yield. Land use trends in the Mediterranean mountains are mainly characterized by generalized farmland abandonment and a decrease in livestock pressure. From a hydrological and geomorphological point of view the main consequences have been a reduction in overland flow from the hillslopes, and a reduction in sediment sources, with differences up to one order of magnitude in sediment yield from dense shrub cover and grazing meadow areas compared with areas under shifting agriculture.
    Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 01/2013; 38:346-355. · 2.49 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Debris flows occurred three weeks after a wildfire in August 1986 in the Najerilla River valley in the Iberian Range, northern Spain. The flows were triggered by a brief, intense rainstorm (approximately 25 mm h−1 over 15 min) in a small area with steep slopes covered by a thick colluvium of quartzite clasts. This storm resulted in the development of several unconfined hillslope debris flows and the formation of an alluvial fan at the mouth of the Pítare stream, which partially blocked the Najerilla River. We analysed the conditions that led to the development of the debris flows, and estimated the rainfall threshold for the debris flows to occur as well as the total volume of mobilised sediment. Four factors contributed to the debris flows: (i) the occurrence of a rainstorm three weeks after a wildfire, which had removed the plant cover from the soil; (ii) the steep slopes in the area (>30°), which were the most affected by debris flows; (iii) the presence of quartzite scarps on the hillslopes, which favoured the development of a ‘firehose effect’ involving channelised surface runoff; and (iv the low plasticity index values of the fine material of the colluvium (indices of 7 to 8), which enabled rapid liquefaction. Estimates of rainfall intensity derived from the estimated peak flow in the Pítare stream suggests that around 80 mm of rainfall fell in approximately 15 min, although this is clearly an overestimated value given the high proportion of sediment load transported during the peak flow. Various equations estimated a rainfall threshold of approximately 25 mm h−1 considering a concentration time of 15 min. The total sediment transported by the debris flows was 10,500 m3 (15,750 Mg, 6800 Mg km−2), and the Pítare stream alone transported a minimum of 4000 m3 (6000 Mg, 2500 Mg km−2). These results suggest that the rainfall threshold for initiating debris flows decreases following a wildfire, such that an ordinary rainstorm is able to trigger a severe erosion and sediment transport event. Given the absence of fresh landslide scars on the hillslopes, the origin of the fire-related debris flows in the Najerilla River valley appears to have been directly linked to increased rates of overland flow having a greater effect than infiltration for triggering debris flows.
    Geomorphology 01/2013; 196:221-230. · 2.58 Impact Factor
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    Zeitschrift fur Geomorphologie Supplement. 11/2012; 56(3):147-168.
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    ABSTRACT: Soil erosion and sediment yield are strongly affected by land use/land cover (LULC). Spatially distributed erosion models are of great interest to assess the expected effect of LULC changes on soil erosion and sediment yield. However, they can only be applied if spatially distributed data is available for their calibration. In this study the soil erosion and sediment delivery model WATEM/SEDEM was applied to a small (2.84 km2) experimental catchment in the Central Spanish Pyrenees. Model calibration was performed based on a dataset of soil redistribution rates derived from point 137Cs inventories, allowing capture differences per land use in the main model parameters. Model calibration showed a good convergence to a global optimum in the parameter space, which was not possible to attain if only external (not spatially distributed) sediment yield data were available. Validation of the model results against seven years of recorded sediment yield at the catchment outlet was satisfactory. Two LULC scenarios were then modeled to reproduce land use at the beginning of the twentieth century and a hypothetic future scenario, and to compare the simulation results to the current LULC situation. The results show a reduction of about one order of magnitude in gross erosion (3180 to 350 Mg yr-1) and sediment delivery (11.2 to 1.2 Mg yr-1 ha-1) during the last decades as a result of the abandonment of traditional land uses (mostly agriculture) and subsequent vegetation recolonization. The simulation also allowed assessing differences in the sediment sources and sinks within the catchment.
    Hydrology and Earth System Sciences 05/2012; 16(5):1321-1334. · 3.59 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: s u m m a r y The erosion and transport of fine-grained sediment in small mountainous catchments involve complex processes occurring at different scales. The suspended sediment yields (SSYs) delivered downstream are difficult to accurately measure and estimate because they result from the coupling of all these pro-cesses. Using high frequency discharge and suspended sediment data collected in eight small mountain-ous catchments (0.45–22 km 2) from four distinct regions, we studied the relationships between event-based SSY and a set of other variables. In almost all the catchments, the event peak discharge (Q max) proved to be the best descriptor of SSY, and the relations were approximated by single power laws of the form SSY ¼ aQ b max . The b exponents ranged between 0.9 and 1.9 across the catchments, while variabil-ity in a was much higher, with coefficients ranging between 25 and 5039. The broad distribution of a was explained by a combination of site-specific physical factors, such as the percentage of degraded areas and hillslope gradient. Further analysis of the factors responsible for data dispersion in each catchment was carried out. Seasonality had a significant influence on variability; but overall, most of the scattering in the SSY–Q max regressions was explained by the short-lasting memory effects occurring between successive events (i.e. in-channel temporary storage and remobilization of sediment; antecedent moisture condi-tions). The predictability of SSY–Q max models was also assessed. Simulations of SSY per event and of annual SSY were conducted by using the computed regressions and the measured Q max . Estimates of SSY per event were very uncertain. In contrast, annual SSY estimates based on the site-specific models were reasonably accurate in all the catchments, with interquartile ranges remaining in the ±50% error interval. The prediction quality of SSY–Q max relations was partly attributed to the statistical compensation that likely occurred between extreme values over a year; but it also suggests that the complex processes occurring at the event scale were smoothed at the annual scale. This SSY–Q max rating appears as a parsi-monious predicting tool for roughly estimating SSY in small mountainous catchments. However, in its current form the technique needs further improvement as a and b values need to be better constrained.
    Journal of Hydrology 04/2012; · 2.96 Impact Factor
  • J. M. García-Ruiz, N. Lana-Renault
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    ABSTRACT: The main characteristic of the Mediterranean mountainous areas is the dramatic land use/land cover change that has significant hydrological and geomorphic consequences regardless of the scale considered. At the end of the 19th Century, depopulation and the modernization of the agricultural systems resulted in a generalized farmland abandonment in the hillslopes (both sloping and bench terraced fields, and shifting agriculture fields), and a reduction in livestock numbers, leading to a complex process of plant re-colonization, depending on soil characteristics, climate and the pre- and post-management of the hillslopes. The primary consequences are evident at the plot scale, where plant re-colonization has caused a rapid decrease in overland flow and soil loss. At the catchment scale, a decrease in sediment sources and channel incision in the secondary streams have been detected. At the regional scale, forests and shrubs cover a large part of the territory, where fifty or eighty years ago the cereal fields and communities of open shrubs prevailed on steep slopes. The most relevant consequences include the progressive lowering in the discharge of rivers, the lower sediment silting in the reservoirs (what increases the useful life of such infrastructures), the improvement of the water quality in the rivers, the decrease in the frequency of the most frequent floods, and changes in channel morphology, with, in general, the enlargement of riparian forests. Moreover, plant re-colonization results in a large homogeneous expansion of forests, favouring the risk of wildfires and a lowering of livestock production. All these processes occurring in the mountain areas have a great impact on the lowlands, where urban, industrial and irrigated areas, as well as tourist resorts are growing. The spatial interactions among land use and runoff generation, soil erosion, sediment yield and fluvial channel dynamics are complex and highlight the need of land management strategies with a multiscalar approach.
    04/2012;
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    ABSTRACT: In this paper we synthesize the research in glacial geomorphology and geochronology in northern Spain, with special attention to the evidence of local glacier maximum extent earlier than the global LGM of MIS 2 (18-21 ka BP). More accurate models of glacier evolution have been defined based on limnogeological, geochronological and geomorphological data. In the Pyrenees, OSL (Optically Stimulated Luminescence), surface exposure and radiocarbon dating techniques have identified end moraines and fluvial terraces corresponding to MIS 6 (about 170 ka) and even to MIS 8 (about 260 ka), and also established the timing of the last local glacial maxima as prior to global LGM (MIS 4, ca. 50-70 ka). During the global LGM a smaller re-advance occurred but glaciers reached different extents in the Central and the Eastern Pyrenees. In NW Iberia, radiocarbon and OSL techniques point to local glacial maximum prior to ca 26 ka-38 ka and probably synchronous with 45 ka. Although some bias might have been introduced by the dating procedures, this review demonstrates that in both regions the local maximum extent occurred prior to the global LGM. The asynchronies between the glacial maxima chronologies in the different mountain ranges of northern Spain suggest that local climate factors exert a strong control on mountain glacier dynamics.
    Geomorphology 01/2012; · 2.58 Impact Factor
  • Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie 01/2012; 56:147-168. · 0.82 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Soil erosion and sediment yield are strongly affected by land use/land cover (LULC). Spatially distributed erosion models are useful tools for comparing erosion resulting from current LULC with a number of alternative scenarios, being of great interest to assess the expected effect of LULC changes. In this study the soil erosion and sediment delivery model WATEM/SEDEM was applied to a small experimental catchment in the Central Spanish Pyrenees. Model calibration was carried out based on a dataset of soil redistribution rates derived from 137Cs inventories along three representative transects, allowing capture differences per land use in the main model parameters. Model calibration showed a good convergence to a global optimum in the parameter space. Validation of the model results against seven years of recorded sediment yield at the catchment outlet was satisfactory. Two LULC scenarios where then modeled to reproduce the land use at the beginning of the twentieth Century and a hypothetic future scenario, and to compare the simulation results to the current LULC situation. The results show a reduction of about one order of magnitude in gross erosion (3180 to 350 Mg yr-1) and sediment delivery (11.2 to 1.2 Mg yr-1 ha-1) during the last decades as a result of the abandonment of traditional land uses (mostly agriculture) and subsequent vegetation re-colonization. The simulation also allowed assessing differences in the sediment sources and sinks within the catchment.
    Hydrology and Earth System Sciences Discussions 12/2011; 8(6):11131-11170. · 3.59 Impact Factor
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    José M. García-Ruiz, Noemí Lana-Renault
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    ABSTRACT: Farmland abandonment is a major problem in parts of Europe, particularly in mountain areas and semiarid environments. In such places, farmland abandonment represents a significant land use change from cropping to a complex of plant successions. The present study assesses the hydromorphological effects of land abandonment in Europe, and the consequences thereof with respect to water resource availability and soil erosion. The evolution of abandoned fields depends on (i) the time of abandonment; (ii) climatic conditions in the abandoned area; (iii) particular characteristics of the fields; (iv) the land management regimen following abandonment; and, (v) the role played by government policy. Throughout most of Europe, vegetation on abandoned farmland has evolved into dense forest or shrub. The expansion of vegetation explains, in part, the perceived decline in water resources, reductions in soil loss and sediment delivery, and the progressive improvement of soil characteristics. Such evolution has resulted in changing stream morphology, featuring narrowing and incision, and a decline in sedimentation level in Mediterranean reservoirs. The abandonment of bench terrace fields coincided with an increase in the occurrence of small landslides in the steps between terraces, as well as changes in the spatial organization of saturated areas. Plant colonization is slower in semiarid areas, increasing the development of soil crusts that reduce infiltration and increase overland flow. Land policies with detailed capability are necessary to remediate the consequences of farmland abandonment in various European environments.
    Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment - AGR ECOSYST ENVIRON. 01/2011; 140(3):317-338.

Publication Stats

1k Citations
138.10 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2002–2014
    • Spanish National Research Council
      • Experimental Station of Aula Dei
      Madrid, Madrid, Spain
  • 1988–2013
    • Instituto Nacional de Ecología
      Ciudad de México, The Federal District, Mexico
  • 2006
    • Utrecht University
      Utrecht, Utrecht, Netherlands
  • 1997–2002
    • Universidad de La Rioja (Spain)
      Logroño, La Rioja, Spain
  • 1995
    • Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
      Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain