IberiaNature A guide to the natural history of Spain
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Peñalara (2,430m) is the highest mountain in the Sierra de Guadarrama (a section of the Sistema Central) and lies between the provinces of Madrid and Segovia. Moving upwards common oak woods are found from 1000m, being replaced by pine forests at 1300m which give way to alpine meadows with broom scrub above1900-2000m, where strong winds and the cold prevent tree growth.

The peak's summit is a designated nature reserve known as the Parque Natural de Peñalara, which features more than twenty small glacial lakes and a cirque. Most of Madrid's mountaineers have cut their alpine teeth on Peñalara's crags and walls. Peñalara Reserve has four glacier cirques: Hoya de la Laguna Grande de Peñalara, Hoya de Pepe Hernando, Hoya de la Pedriza and Hoya del Brezal. There are also some lagoons such as the Laguna Grande, the Pájaros lagoon and the Claveles
lagoon that have existed since the times of the glacier. The lagoons remain frozen for most of the year.

The mountain takes its name from Latin Penna and Lara, meaning head and plain, respectively, flat head if you were, in reference to its rounded silhouette.

Wildlife Dunnock, bluethroat, rock thrush, red-billed chough, Spanish imperial eagle, black vulture. Ten species of amphibian's inhabit the park's 250 tarns and wetlands

Threats Fire, global warming over next century may well seriously damage Peñalara's alpine habitats, urban pressure in lower slopes, tourism (135,000 visitors a year)

External links on the death of Peñalara's amphibians

"During summers 1997, 1998 and 1999 mass mortality episodes of post-metamorphic common midwife toads Alytes obstetricans were detected in the Peñalara Natural Park, an alpine area in central Spain very close to Madrid. The population had suffered a sharp decline, disappearing from 91% of the ponds where they were known to reproduce some years ago. In the skin of ill frogs and toads revealed the presence of chytridiomycosis infection. This evidence supports chytridiomycosis as the most plausible cause of the decline of the species in the area. This is the first report in Europe of an amphibian decline caused by the amphibian chytrid, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. " Chytridiomycosis in Spain

"Scientists uncovered an association between the emergence of the disease and global warming while studying changes in the number of midwife toads in Spain's Penalara Natural Park between 1976 and 2002". ( BBC