The diversity of Donana’s ecosystems

The diversity of Donana’s ecosystems


Between sand and the smell of salt there’s a very particular place; This place is called Donana. A unique place from different aspects, today we are going to talk about:

The diversity of Donana’s ecosystems.

The diversity of Donana’s ecosystems has always been changing; Donana has been different a long the time and the Donana that we know today has only been with us for approximately 6000 years. In geological time it does not even reach the blink of an eye, but in those 6000 years the ecosystems have been formed as we know them today.

The first ecosystem of Donana is the best known and currently used by people, if you think of the beach

Correlimos tridáctilo "Calidris alba"

Sanderling Calidris alba on Donana’s beach.


It is an ecosystem in continuous change due to the action of wind and waves; sometimes with progradation (advance) and other times with retrogradation (retreat) of the coastline.

But… How is this possible?

The wind and waves move the grains of sand (littoral drift movement) molding the coastline with each storm.

Later, at the upper limit of the high tide, remains of bivalves (shells) and remains of fish can be found. The latter can be eaten by gulls (yellowlegs, black-backed gulls, etc.), also, sandpipers are usually found at this limit eating the small invertebrates. The next thing we can find are the embryonic dunes, those are in the upper limit of our ecosystem and in them we find the bravest vegetation, as it fights against the wind that hits the coast and the saline spray that is in the environment. It’s not a super power but you have to be able to. And how she does it? Using adaptations like deep roots, in the case of the marram grass Ammophila arenaria, and other types of adaptations such as coastal bugloss Equium gaditanum, sea holly Eryngium maritimum, sea daffodil Pancratium maritimum and others.

Row of dunes N.P. Doñana


The next ecosystem that shows us the diversity of Doñana’s ecosystems, due to proximity, are the dunes; with a close alliance between wind and sand, this ecosystem is formed over thousands of years. It is a dune system (row of dunes) that is carried by the action of the wind towards the interior of the park. The first, mobile dunes, are only retained and formed by the plant like spiny thrift Armeria pungens, helichrysum Helichrysum picardii and other species, some already mentioned above, that mold the landscape. Once we have passed this line, we reach the next dune range where species such as cade juniper Juniperus oxycedrus subsp. macrocarpa or Stone pine Pinus pinea are present. The latter forms part of the interior landscape and the dune corrals, leaving behind the passage of the dune the so-called Doñana crosses or field of crosses.

Corral dunar

Corral dune N.P. Donana


This ecosystem gives way to the next: the marshes. But first, as a result of the union of marshes and dunes, the vera is born. La vera is not considered an ecosystem of Doñana, it is even more ephemeral. It is an ecotone, the ecotone is born by the emergence of groundwater, given the limit between clays and sands of the soil layer. This area has incredible biodiversity and is of vital importance for the local wildlife, as it sometimes acts as a watering hole when water is scarce for herbivores and as a camping area for carnivores.


Tsunami incidence direction

Tsunami incidence direction

And now, the marsh. The image of the diversity of Doñana’s ecosystems, young, born from tsunamis and made from large floods that were silted up, depositing sediments and closing the ancient lacus ligustinus, an ancient Roman lake. Little by little, the Doñana that we know today will appear, one of the reasons for the greatness and diversity of Doñana’s ecosystems: The birds. Herons, egrets, eagles, bitterns, flamingos, stilts and almost 100 species only in the Doñana marshes; makes this site ideal for birdwatching.

Finally, The “coto” or the forest. Historical area of use, religious worship and tradition. It is also the area where the king of Doñana is found, the Iberian lynx, this being that has been brought to the brink of extinction and rescued after a long process that continues to this day. One of his “noble titles” is being an “umbrella species”; This means saving countless species since a large amount of land is necessary for their conservation and, therefore, all the diversity of the Doñana’s ecosystems found there will also be protected. Trees, lizards, insects and birds could be said to be protected thanks to the Iberian lynx. ​

Iberian lynx Lynx pardinus


Those are some of the values and knowledge that we transmit at DoñanaTour.


Thank you and until our next tour with DoñanaTour!


Information sources:





ROCÍO CHICO 2019 TRANSFER OF THE VIRGIN OF THE ROCÍO: The transfer of the Virgen del Rocío to her village of Almonte, known as Rocío Chico, takes place on 19 August 2019. It is a tradition that celebrates only every 7 years. The village of Rocío is three leagues from the town of Almonte. After the transfer the Virgin will remain in Almonte for nine months, just two weeks before the Rocío pilgrimage in 2020.

On Monday 19 August 2019 in the afternoon the Virgin leaves in procession through the streets of the village of Rocio, is the expected jump of the fence. Around 20:00 hours in the afternoon the virgin walks the path of the plains covered with the veil, to protect it from dust. She travels all the way during the whole dawn. Around 06:00 the Virgin arrives at the Chaparral, where she is left on a large altar. When the first ray of the sun comes out (although it is still dark), the Virgin’s maidens removed her veil. Then, at around 7 or 8 in the morning, the procession begins again to the Parish of Almonte. The image of the White Dove arrives in Almonte amidst the cheers and jubilation. The arrival to Almomte is usually around 10 or 11 in the morning. The hours are approximate, due to the stops that are made during the night.

The adornments of the step is tradition that they are taken by the old almonteñas, known popularly like “the almonteñas grandmothers”. The way out is nocturnal, it is dotted with bonfires and it is made field through previously determined places, that every seven years constitute the same itinerary.

The exorns of the streets are authentic ephemeral cathedrals, executed by local artists to receive the Virgen del Rocío, giving greater solemnity to the transfers. The exorns are an ephemeral architecture based on wood and paper that represent triumphal arches and temples on columns of the most varied architectural styles.
– The transfers of the Virgen del Rocío to her village of Almonte have been carried out for centuries, but the tradition of the 7 years is relatively recent, dating from 1949.
– Whenever events such as epidemics, wars, droughts, bad harvests or famine occurred in Almonte, the Virgen del Rocío (Virgin of the Rocío) was brought here, where she stayed for the necessary time in the parish of the village, where cults and mass were celebrated, to be returned later to the hermitage of El Rocío.
– Tradition tells us to remove the veil, when the first ray of sunlight illuminates the Virgin’s face. At that moment hundreds of trabucos and shotguns fired salvoes in honour of the Virgin.
– The last time a transfer was held the Virgin of the Rocío remained in Almonte from August 19, 2012 to May 12, 2013.
The first written document about a transfer is in 1607, where the transfer of the Virgin to the village of Almonte is told due to drought, on April 21, 1607. The Virgen del Rocío was moved long before 1607, but today there are no written documents on these transfers.

Subsequently the Virgen del Rocío has returned on numerous occasions to Almonte. It is worth mentioning one year, in which it was moved on three occasions. This occurred in 1738, when it was recorded in a document.