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Taking the pulse of pollution in Mediterranean ecosystems

European and North African researchers meet at the University of Navarra at the III committee CAPERmed for research on the effects of air pollution in Mediterranean ecosystems.

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18/06/18 10:11 Laura Juampérez

CAPERmed is the committee for research on the effects of atmospheric pollution in Mediterranean ecosystems and its third biannual meeting will be held for the first time at the University of Navarra from 20 to 21 June.                                                                                  

For two days, European and North African experts will meet in Pamplona to discuss the effects of atmospheric pollution on Mediterranean ecosystems, which constitute some of the most biodiverse enclaves on the planet. "Our goal is to coordinate knowledge about current impacts, determine future challenges and share innovative ideas and methodologies of research for a more sustainable future for Mediterranean ecosystems and the human societies that depend on them", underline two of its researchers, the professor of department of Chemistry of the University of Navarra David Elustondo and Raúl Ochoa Hueso, researcher of department of Ecology of the Autonomous University of Madrid.

Also, as a novelty in this third edition, on the 19th there will be a mountain bike route prior to the celebration of congress, sponsored by the Navarre bicycle manufacturer Conor. "With this initiative we want to make visible the importance of promoting the use of bicycles as a sustainable means of transport," adds Ochoa Hueso. In addition to supporting this activity - in which the former professional cyclist Prudencio Indurain will participate - Conor will give a bicycle as a gift to the winner of the award for the best scientific communication of the congress and all the participants in the route will receive a backpack as a gift.

500,000 deaths per year in Europe caused by pollution

On the other hand, the experts recall that more than half a million people die prematurely each year in Europe as a result of atmospheric pollution and related extreme events: "The effects of environmental pollution on Mediterranean ecosystems also include a loss of biodiversity at all levels. In this status, such ecosystems become dominated by a few opportunistic plant species, which are often not so beneficial to local insect communities and lead to the potential loss of pollinators," they add.

"The increase in atmospheric pollution, especially nitrogen, may also be associated with an increase in the frequency and virulence of fires. For all these reasons, many experts agree with agreement that we have reached a crucial moment in which we must act decisively to avoid a possible even greater environmental and humanitarian catastrophe. An action that, at the level of the Mediterranean Basin, is coordinated by the Union for the Mediterranean, an intergovernmental institution that seeks to promote dialogue and cooperation in the region", detailed both experts and speakers at congress CAPERmed 2018.