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Determinants of avian species richness at different spatial scales


  • Katrin Būhning-Gaese

    1. Abteilung für Verhaltensphysiologie, Beim Kupferhammer 8, D 72070 Tübingen, and Max-Planck-Institut für Verhaltensphysiologie, Vogelwarte Radolfzell, D 78315 Radolfzell, Germany
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      Lehrstuhl für Zoologie/Tierphysiologie, Institut für Biologic II der RWTH Aachen, Kopernikusstr. 16, D 52074 Aachen, Germany.


ABSTRACT. Studies of factors influencing avian biodiversity yield very different results depending on the spatial scale at which species richness is calculated. Ecological studies at small spatial scales (plot size 0.0025–0.4 km2) emphasize the importance of habitat diversity, whereas biogeographical studies at large spatial scales (quadrat size 400–50,000 km2) emphasize variables related to available energy such as temperature. In order to bridge the gap between those two approaches the bird atlas data set of Lake Constance was used to study factors determining avian species diversity at the intermediate spatial scales of landscapes (quadrat size 4–36 km2). At these spatial scales bird species richness was influenced by habitat diversity and not by variables related to available energy probably because, at the landscape scale, variation in available energy is small. Changing quadrat size between 4 and 36 km2, but keeping the geographical extension of the study constant resulted in profound changes in the degree to which the amount of different habitat types was correlated with species richness. This suggests that high species diversity is achieved by different management regimes depending on the spatial scale at which species richness is calculated. However, generally, avian species diversity seems to be determined by spatial heterogeneity at the corresponding spatial scale. Thus, protecting the diversity of landscapes and ecosystems appears to ensure also high levels of species diversity.

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