Estación Biológica de Doñana is celebrating its 50th birthday




The first written references to Doñana date from the fourteenth century in a book dedicated to game hunting by King Alfonso XI. In the nineteenth century, kings and nobles used this area for hunting and leisure. They were joined by naturalists like Abel Chapman and Walter J. Buck who were attracted to the great diversity of fauna and in the possibility of obtaining specimens for scientific collections. In the middle of the twentieth century, Doñana was featured in photographic books on wildlife and caught the interest of Spanish ornithologists including Francisco Bernis and José Antonio Valverde. The latter organized, together with the newly created WWF, a collection for the purchase of Doñana in order to ensure its persistence as a biological reserve. Late in 1963 the sale agreement on the real estate that now constitutes the Doñana Biological Reserve was signed the deed was signed. In 1964, the WWF entrusted the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) with their rights over Doñana, with the mission to conduct scientific research of its ecosystems. To fulfil this mandate, CSIC created a new research center, the Doñana Biological Station (EBD-CSIC), with José Antonio Valverde as the first director. The headquarters of the EBD is in Seville, and the Palacio de Doñana is its main field station.



Today, the Doñana Biological Station is one of the major research centers in the Natural Resources Area of the Spanish National Research Council. During its 50 years of existence EBD-CSIC has grown into an internationally renowned research center and has expanded its activities across the globe. It has recently been awarded the “Severo Ochoa” prize for research centre of excellence by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness. Research at EBD-CSIC is multidisciplinary including natural history, evolution, ecology, systematics, biogeography, genetics and conservation biology. We work in 7 major research lines: Wetland Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, Molecular Ecology, Ecological Synthesis, Conservation Biology, Biological Invasions, and Plant-Animal interactions. To achieve this, we apply many techniques, from molecular genetics to remote sensing, and from modelling to physiological analyses, using theoretical, experimental and observational approaches.We are committed to the transfer of scientific knowledge to management for the conservation of biodiversity in all its forms.



Currently our research staff consists of 43 civil servant researchers, over 30 hired and postdoctoral scientists and over 20 PhD students, supported by about 130 technicians and administrators. The excellence of our research is demonstrated by the scientific impact of our work: about 25% of the researchers are amongst the 1% most cited researchers of the last 10 years in the areas Ecology/Environment and Plant & Animal Sciences. Several researchers are members of editorial boards of outstanding journals like Science, Ecology Letters, Ecology, Ecological Monographs, Conservation Biology and Conservation Genetics.



Since its creation, research at EBD-CSIC has been strongly related to Doñana, the coastal estuary of the Guadalquivir River. The wealth of its aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems makes it a unique Mediterranean coastal area. Our centre is in charge of the administration and management of the Doñana Biological Reserve (RBD), part of this protected area. Additionally, we coordinate all research projects undertaken in the Doñana Natural Area and maintain a long-term monitoring program on biodiversity and natural processes. Since 2006, RBD has been considered a national Singular Scientific and Technological Infrastructure (ICTS) by the Spanish Ministry. This provides a continuous source of interaction between national and foreign researchers through programs for short scientific missions financed by the Ministry. We also manage a field station located in the protected mountain area “Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas” (Jaén).


Facilities at the EBD-CSIC include laboratories for Molecular Ecology, GIS and Remote Sensing, Aquatic Ecology, Chemical Ecology, Ecophysiology, Stable Isotopes and an Animal Experimentation Unit (ES410910008014). EBD-CSIC is a leader in conducting controlled experiments on wildlife. Additionally, a library provides scientific journals on Zoology, Ethology, and Ecology and specialized books. The EBD-CSIC holds the second-largest scientific collection in Spain, which contains a large variety of vertebrate specimens from Spain and around the world.



The Seventh Framework Programme of the European Community (7FP), National Research Plan (Spain) and Regional Research Plan (Andalucía) provide the bulk of competitively obtained funding. Over 50% of our articles are published in top quartile SCI-indexed journals, including high-impact multidisciplinary journals like Nature, Science and PNAS. In addition to research and monitoring activities, we also participate in dissemination and outreach activities such as expositions, fairs, popular forums and conferences. We organize weekly seminars featuring both our staff and invited researchers. Additionally, our institute and staff participate in training at the undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate levels. One of these initiatives is the organization of the Masters Program “Biodiversity and Conservation Biology” at the Pablo de Olavide University in Seville.