Impact of climate change on communities: revealing species' contribution

Authors


Correspondence author: E-mail: Catherine.Davey@cec.lu.se

Summary

  1. Although climate is known to play an important role in structuring biological communities, high-resolution analyses of recent climatic impacts on multiple components of diversity are still sparse. Additionally, there is a lack of knowledge about which species drive community response to environmental change.
  2. We used a long-term breeding bird data set that encompasses a large latitudinal and altitudinal range to model the effect of temperature on spatial and temporal patterns in alpha and beta diversity. We also established a novel framework for identifying species-specific contributions to these macroecological patterns, hence combining two different approaches for identifying climatic impacts.
  3. Alpha diversity increased over time, whilst beta diversity declined; both diversity metrics showed a significant relationship with recent temperature anomalies. By partitioning beta diversity, we showed that the decline was predominately driven by changes in species turnover rather than nestedness suggesting a process of replacement by more common species.
  4. Using jackknife analyses we identified how individual species influenced the modelled relationships of diversity with temperature and time. Influential species tended to be habitat generalists with moderate to large distributions.
  5. We demonstrate that different facets of avian diversity can respond rapidly to temperature anomalies and as a result have undergone significant changes in the last decade. In general, it appears that warming temperatures are driving compositional homogenization of temperate bird communities via range expansion of common generalist species.

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