Organizing your fieldwork

Doñana is an outstanding natural laboratory in which highly diverse ecosystems enjoy an exceptional conservation status. It is, however, also a rough terrain with harsh climatic conditions, in which the fieldwork may be challenging. Please take it into account when planning your fieldwork, and do not hesitate to benefit from the logistic support and expertise provided by ICTS-RBD already by then.

The Doñana Protected Areas (PAs) include large beaches, active dunes, shrubland and forest on consolidated dunes, lakes and ponds, and extensive areas of marshland. With the exception of a handful of areas accessible through paved roads, fieldwork will require the use of 4×4 vehicles. While ICTS-RBD may support your activities on the short-term (1-2 days, previous request), you should plan for your own 4×4 vehicle for any prolonged field campaign.

Orientation is also challenging. If you are planning a field campaign requiring ample movements within the PAs and/or access to remote areas within it, please ensure that you obtain adequate logistic support until you are adequately trained for moving through the area.

While Doñana is relatively dry, flooding represents one of the main challenges for fieldwork taking place between autumn and late spring. All roads at Doñana PAs are unpaved, and the apparently short stretches of flooded potholes might be surprisingly deep – and ruin your fieldwork day, once you get stuck into it. Please take into account that your fieldwork might require readjustment if it coincide with a severe rainfall period.

This is even more important if you plan to work at the Doñana marshes. Once flooded, they are inaccessible by car (even 4×4) and, since they are typically shallow (<1m) but very extensive, difficult to access using boats or canoes. Sampling during the high-flood season is generally done on horseback, with the support of specialized personnel. Smaller lakes are the fringes of the marsh may however be accessed by car and sampled using waders and/or a small boat.

Climatic conditions may also be harsh, particularly during the summer months, when temperatures usually exceed 40 °C during most of the day. Unless strictly necessary, sampling during summer should be avoided or restricted to early morning and late afternoon. Temperatures are still high during most of the year, so please ensure adequate clothing (including a cap) and generous water supply during all your field visits. Mosquito repellents and routine measures against tics should also be key part of your field procedures.

Field conditions are not only harsh for people – if you are planning to deploy equipment, do plan for adequate protection against the sun, wind+sand, salt and rainfall. The ICTS-RBD personnel has extensive experience in the deployment and maintenance of environmental sensors, animal tracking  and remote  sensing equipment, and you can benefit most from their  advice and support at an early planning phase.

Once you have a research project approved by ICTS-RBD, you can request logistic or technical support using this online form (in Spanish). For any query of information of support not included in this form, contact us at coordinacion@ebd.csic.es.