Get access

Population trends of European common birds are predicted by characteristics of their climatic niche

Authors

  • FRÉDÉRIC JIGUET,

    1. Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle & European Bird Census Council, UMR 5173 MNHN-CNRS-UPMC, Centre de Recherches sur la Biologie des Populations d'Oiseaux, 55 Rue Buffon, 75005 Paris, France
    Search for more papers by this author
  • RICHARD D. GREGORY,

    1. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds & European Bird Census Council, The Lodge, Sandy, Bedfordshire SG19 2DL, UK
    Search for more papers by this author
  • VINCENT DEVICTOR,

    1. Department of Zoology, Edward Grey Institute, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3PS, UK
    2. Tour du Valat. Le Sambuc, 13200 Arles, France
    Search for more papers by this author
  • RHYS E. GREEN,

    1. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds & Conservation Biology Group, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EJ, UK
    Search for more papers by this author
  • PETR VOŘÍŠEK,

    1. Czech Society for Ornithology, Na Belidle 34, CZ-150 00 Prague 5, Czech Republic
    Search for more papers by this author
  • ARCO VAN STRIEN,

    1. Statistics Netherlands, PO Box 4000, 2270 JM Voorburg, The Netherlands
    Search for more papers by this author
  • DENIS COUVET

    1. Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle & European Bird Census Council, UMR 5173 MNHN-CNRS-UPMC, Centre de Recherches sur la Biologie des Populations d'Oiseaux, 55 Rue Buffon, 75005 Paris, France
    Search for more papers by this author

F. Jiguet, tel. +33 140793080, fax +33 140793835, e-mail: fjiguet@mnhn.fr

Abstract

Temperate species are projected to experience the greatest temperature increases across a range of modelled climate change scenarios, and climate warming has been linked to geographical range and population changes of individual species at such latitudes. However, beyond the multiple modelling approaches, we lack empirical evidence of contemporary climate change impacts on populations in broad taxonomic groups and at continental scales. Identifying reliable predictors of species resilience or susceptibility to climate warming is of critical importance in assessing potential risks to species, ecosystems and ecosystem services. Here we analysed long-term trends of 110 common breeding birds across Europe (20 countries), to identify climate niche characteristics, adjusted to other environmental and life history traits, that predict large-scale population changes accounting for phylogenetic relatedness among species. Beyond the now well-documented decline of farmland specialists, we found that species with the lowest thermal maxima (as the mean spring and summer temperature of the hottest part of the breeding distribution in Europe) showed the sharpest declines between 1980 and 2005. Thermal maximum predicted the recent trends independently of other potential predictors. This study emphasizes the need to account for both land-use and climate changes to assess the fate of species. Moreover, we highlight that thermal maximum appears as a reliable and simple predictor of the long-term trends of such endothermic species facing climate change.

Get access to the full text of this article

Ancillary