Does land-use change affect biodiversity dynamics at a macroecological scale? A case study of birds over the past 20 years in Japan


Yuichi Yamaura, Department of Forest Entomology, Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute, 1 Matsunosato, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8687, Japan.


Because the effects of land-use change on biodiversity have primarily been examined at or below the regional scale, it remains unclear whether such effects scale up to the macroecological scale (i.e. nationwide or continental scale). In Japan, forests have become more mature since the cessation of most forestry efforts in the 1970s. At a nationwide scale, this forest maturation may lead to reductions in the abundance of species that depend on early successional forests (early successional species) and increases in the abundance of species that depend on mature forests (mature forest species). Japan has met its high demand for wood through imports from South-east Asia, resulting in deforestation there. Therefore, the abundance of mature forest species that migrate long distances to overwinter in South-east Asia may decrease. We examined changes in the range sizes of birds in Japan over the past 20 years using the living planet index (LPI). The LPI indicated that the range sizes of early successional species decreased. For mature forest species, the range sizes of long-distance migrants decreased, whereas those of short-distance migrants and residents increased. Our predictions were generally supported. Our results indicate that the effects of land-use change extend to the macroecological scale and that such changes in one country can affect the biodiversity dynamics in other countries. Forest maturation in Japan and concomitant deforestation in South-east Asia have been caused by internationally coupled socioeconomic processes. Therefore, biodiversity conservation at the macroecological scale must consider the role of land use, and such efforts will require both international and socioeconomic perspectives.