Aiguestortes / Lleida (ES-SNE) - Spain

Basic Information

Site Name: 

Aiguestortes / Lleida (ES-SNE)

Short name : 

Aiguestortes / Lleida (ES-SNE)

Country (Site Location): 


LTER Member Network: 

Contact: Site Manager: 

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General Site Description: 

The National Park (14,119 ha) and its Peripheral Protected Area (26,733 ha) is located in the center of the Pyrenean range, in the southern axial chain, in northwest Catalunya (42º 34’ N, 00º 56’ E). It is a high mountain area considered one of the best representations of the Quaternary glacial erosion with typical glacial cirques and "U" shaped valleys. The range of altitudes varies between 1,383 and 3,023 m asl, with a mean altitude of 2,236 m asl. The Aigüestortes National Park has as a particular identity a wide variety of aquatic ecosystems (peatlands, lakes and streams) and few artificial (dammed lakes, small reservoirs and open channels). There are more than 200 lakes (with the local denomination of "estanys") within its boundaries, which make the Park the most important alpine lacustrine area of Europe and, of course, of the Pyrenees. Some of these lakes have been naturally replenished causing the development of peatlands and wet meadows where the stream meanders, locally called "aigüestortes" (literally, "twisted waters"). Climate is of mountain Atlantic type with precipitation abundant all year round (range 1,200 to 1,300 mm) and monthly average usually higher than 100 mm. Temperatures are low with yearly average of 5.2ºC and thermal amplitude 16ºC. The vegetation is a typically alpine landscape of great phytogeographic interest with extensive meadows, scree and snow bed endemic communities. In the montane and subalpine belts there are beech, mixed deciduous, fir, and pine forests, diverse scrubs, and a number of wetlands and peatlands which are the main feature of this space. There are at least eight vulnerable or threatened iconic species of animals living in the Park: Rosalia alpina (rosalia beetle), Salmo trutta (trout), Galemys pyrenaicus (Pyrenean desman), Gypaetus barbatus (bearded vulture), Aquila chrysaetos (golden eagle), Lagopus mutus (ptarmigan), Tetrao urogallus (capercaillie), and Ursus arctos (brown bear).

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General Characteristics, Purpose, History

Site Status: 


Year Site Established: 


Size : 

40 852.00ha

Purpose of Site : 

The aim of the Aigüestortes and Estany de Sant Maurici eLTER node is to promote and support research oriented towards a better understanding of the high mountain ecosystems functioning to design indicators and define methodology for monitoring Climate and Global Change effects in high mountain ecosystems with particular emphasis on freshwaters (i.e. lakes and streams). The eLTER site aims to provide fine resolution and extensive meteorologic, limnological, biodiversity and atmospheric gas exchange data, and to introduce new parameters, that are necessary to develop basic and applied research on global change and to help provide answers and solutions to the society in this changing world. The remoteness of the area including the high altitude (from sub-alpine to alpine district) makes it an ideal early warning site for global change (atmospheric deposition of pollutants, shift in temperatures and radiation) and meets the conditions to hold experimental catchments such as Sant Nicolau valley. The LTER site also provides support to the Management of the National Parc and the Conservation of threatened species and ecosystems through specific programs, including oriented research calls. The knowledge acquired is transferred from scientists to decision makers through regular meetings, specific workshops and further reports. Particular training is offered to park rangers and guides, and to the forestry to assess park visitors with nature and conservation environmental issues relevant to the Park. Exhibitions and outreach material are shown at the National Park Information Centers and neighbor towns to help disseminate main results derived from LTER activities within the National Park.

History of Site: 

The Aigüestortes and Estany de Sant Maurici LTER Site has hosted over 70 years of research on Geology, Biodiversity, Limnology, Meteorology, Ecology, Global Change, and Anthropology among others.

Research Topics: 


  • @EBallesteros
    Estany Llebreta (Vall Sant Nicolau)
  • @EBallesteros
    Estant Llong (Vall Sant Nicolau)
  • @EChappuis
    Estany Dellui petit
  • @LCamarero
    Meteorological Station at Estany Llebreta
  • @LCamarero
    Air sampling for CO2 time series in winter


Latitude: 42.616000000000
Longitude: 0.933000000000

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