The protection, conservation and restoration of coastal ecosystems and their natural resources is an essential element to achieve a sustainable development. The  deterioration of coastal ecosystems, in terms of loss of biodiversity and the goods and services they offer, has meant that within the IH Cantabria has consolidated a line of research aimed at:
  • Assessing the conservation status of habitats and coastal species;
  • Analyzing their interactions with human activities, and
  • Developing restoration strategies to ensure maintenance of basic ecological functions and processes (food webs, hydrological variability, flood control, nutrient retention, coastal protection, etc).

The team that make up this line of work is highly multidisciplinary including biologists, chemists, marine scienctists and environmental scientists and civil engineers.

Published in Coastal ecosystems
IH Cantabria is very active in increasing knowledge in this complez field while also developing tools and methodologies applied to the environmental management of port systems. Many of the efforts of recent years have been based upon the principles established by the European legislation on water quality.

In line with these principles, IH Cantabria addresses three major challenges:

The adaptation of the generic goals of protection and improvement of aquatic systems to the uniqueness of ports, by posting the ROM 5.1;

The implementation of management models in different geographical areas contrasting them in nationwide studies (Santander, Huelva, Cadiz, Tarragona, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, etc.) as wella s at the european level (UK, Ireland, Portugal, France);

The involvement of the business sector for technology transfer and innovation, by creating a discussion group framedwithin the PROTECMA technology platform.

Published in Coastal ecosystems
Metabolism (ie oxygen consumption or production) is one of the best ways to quantify the functioning of an ecosystem, although the quantification of other indicators such as nutrient dynamics (i.e. nitrates or phosphates) can also be of great interest to characterize the dynamics of an ecosystem.

In this sense, IH Cantabria is exploring the role played by different factors at different spatial scales in a river ecosystem's functioning. To carry out this task, researchers at IH Cantabria are using different methods to quantify fluvial metabolism (breakdown and primary production) habitat scale (incubations) or river section (probes). In the same fline of work we will find studies on the trophic structure of the ecosystem and how it may affect or vary the rates of ecosystem functioning, and what the mechanisms are that determine the resilience of the ecosystem to changes caused by natural or human disturbances.
Published in Freshwater ecosystems

IH Cantabria puts special emphasis on the determination of natural biodiversity patterns and in explaining which biotic and abiotic factors are key in the determination of these patterns. This work is carried out mainly in two large groups.

The first one studys the distribution ranges of key species for conservation, to determine which factors affect ins population dynamics, focusing on the effects of anthropic activities.

 Within the seciond block, there is currently a tendency to use a macroecological point of view, analyzing the relation between local and regional diversity in different natural and anthropic environments, as well as the relation between the taxonomical and feature-based differences and the effects of historical or current natural perturbation dynamics in species diversity.

Published in Freshwater ecosystems
Remote sensing is a tool used to monitor dynamic natural phenomena, given its ability to provide a wealth of continuous and homogeneous information on the Earth's surface.

The research carried out in this field  focuses mainly on the following:

  • The analysis of time series of surface water temperature in both the coastal and fresh waters, in order to study their variability and anomalies, the correlation with known climate indices, and integration of data into numerical  hydrodynamic models.
  • The study and monitoring of wetlands, investigating the variability of the flooded areas and their relation to flood pulses.
  • The determination of water quality and its variability.
  • The study of the evolution of the coastline and beaches morpho-dynamics (seasonal, annual) and anthropogenic impacts.
Published in Freshwater ecosystems
Changes in land use, especially deforestation of rivers produces a significant change in the hydrology, sediment dynamics and transport of substances through river systems.

IH Cantabria is interested in understanding the mechanisms that produce these changes. To do this, studies are being carried out on how sub-superficial flows are modified as well as the transpiration and evaporation pattern produced in the infiltration, runoff, flows and evapotranspiration patterns contained within a watershed. Regarding sediment transportation,  we are analyzing how the composition and arrangement of the different patches of vegetation that shape the landscape alter the erosion-sedimentation patterns within a water basin and how they affect the dynamics of sediment transport along a river network. Similarly, IH Cantabria is interested in analyzing the effects of the presence and/or absence of the riparian forest on river morphodynamics of a river.

Published in Freshwater ecosystems

The field of ecohydraulics is rapidly growing as society requires a better undestanding of the interrelations amongst the dynamics of the physical processes pertaining to aquatic ecosystems and the modifications observed in their habitat as well as the biological responses of the organisms.

IH Cantabria's knowledge of hydrodynamic and morphodynamic processes in aquatic system is the starting point of this area of research which aims to study the interactions between these processes and the ecological processes and the biodiversity patterns present in rivers.

Ecohydraulics are also a fundamental tool to estimate the consequences of anthropic interventions (hydraulic works, spillls. water resource exploitation, etc. ) on the ecological state of the rivers as well as the definition of restoration projects on aquatic systems.

Published in Hydraulic Engineering
The number of accidental oil spills affecting the Atlantic coast of Europe in the last decades has led to a growing concern regarding oil spill preparedness and response, and has motivated the development and implementation of different tools to be used in these emergency situations. Close to shore, most damage occurs in sheltered bays and inlets, where oil is concentrated.

In the last years different national and internationals administrations have promoted environmental directives aimed to protect these aquatic ecosystems (e.g. Water Framework Directive (2000/60/CE); Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD)).

To fulfil the legislation and to prevent, prepare for, and respond to oil spills, two different approaches exist: planning tools to promote an integrated and sustainable oil spill response capability in the regions are needed, and operational oceanography systems that provide real-time forecast of oceanographic variables and oil spill trajectories are becoming a key element in oil spill response.


The main objective of the project is to generate both operational forecasting systems and planning tools, at local scale (estuaries and ports) by developing a set of high resolution operational oceanographic systems in several estuaries or ports located in the Atlantic Area, and establishing local oil spill response plans for these local areas based on risk assessment.

SPRES also aims to embed the project results firmly in regional development activities through the involvement of stakeholders in a large range of activities. The stakeholders will therefore be involved in the planning and delivery of the project aims, as well as promoting the project results to the wider industrial and public sector communities. By involving stakeholders closely and making sure that the stakeholder community as a whole is benefiting from the output of SPRES, this project will carry on benefiting the project partners as a base for other projects, governments, by providing decision making tools, and other stakeholders by promoting sustainable development of marine resources.

The partners of the project are research institutions and non-profit organisations from Spain, France, Portugal and United Kingdom. A combined effort between the partner countries will allow achieving a much greater progress than separate country actions, thus establishing common standard that will contribute to the improvement of interconnections between territories.

The project has as associated partners, the Ministry of Environment of the Government of Cantabria, the Directorate of Civil Protection of Cantabria, the Aveiro Port Authority, the Centre Hidrographic Region of Portugal, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and the African Maritime Safety and Security Agency.

Published in R&D projects


Captura de pantalla 2016-02-16 a las 13.50.38En el marco del proyecto CENTINELA, se hace pública la aplicación web de última generación desarrollada por IHCantabria. Esta aplicación integra, en tiempo real, la información recibida desde un novedoso sistema de seguimiento instalado en los ecosistemas fluviales del Parque Nacional de los Picos de Europa y su entorno más próximo. Este sistema de seguimiento está compuesto por una red de 7 aforos no intrusivos, 2 estaciones terrestres capaces de tomar imágenes en continúo y medir diversas variables atmosféricas, así como la caracterización de la estructura y composición de las comunidades de invertebrados y peces en 13 puntos de esta red fluvial, los cuales se han monitorizado durante el periodo 2012-2015. Además, en esta aplicación se aporta información sobre el hábitat físico fluvial (RHS) en 100 puntos y sobre los 9 aforos que la Confederación Hidrográfica del Cantábrico tiene en la zona de estudio.

El desarrollo de esta aplicación permite generar una completa base de datos mediante la que poder determinar cómo la variabilidad en las condiciones ambientales se ve reflejada en las comunidades biológicas propias del medio fluvial.

El desarrollo de esta aplicación sirve como una herramienta que facilita la toma de decisiones a los gestores del Parque frente a los efectos que genera el cambio global y el establecimiento de un sistema de alerta temprana. Igualmente, se trata de una herramienta útil para los habitantes y visitantes del Parque, pudiendo acceder a información relevante para planificar sus actividades y visitas.

Puedes visitar la web de la herramienta pinchando AQUÍy la web del proyecto pinchando AQUÍ

Published in News
Page 2 of 2
logo IH logo UC logo FIHC laj