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Long-term effects of combined land-use and climate changes on local bird communities in mosaic agricultural landscapes

Abstract : Rural landscapes of western Europe have considerably changed in the last decades under the combined pressure of climate and land use changes, leading to a dramatic decline of farmland biodiversity, including common farmland birds. The respective roles of climate and land use and cover changes in driving bird population trends are primarily assessed at national or continental levels. Yet, it is often challenging to integrate their intertwined effects at such large scales due to the lack of data on fine-scale land cover changes. Here, we used a long-term bird monitoring scheme, combined with a land cover survey, conducted during 30 years (1981-2011) across 780 sites in a 20,000 ha study area in south-western France, dominated by low-intensity farming systems. We tested the direct effect of temporal changes in climate and land use on the dynamics of two community-level metrics: the bird Community Thermal Index (CTI) and bird Community Generalization Index (CGI). We used a novel method to assess the contribution of species-specific dynamics to CTI and CGI trends. We observed a significant increase in CTI and a significant decrease in CGI between 1981 and 2011, i.e., bird communities now have higher thermal preferences and are more specialized than 30 years ago. Bird CTI and CGI changes were both related to local climate- and land use-related drivers, especially mean temperature increase and hedgerow loss. Trends in CTI and CGI were primarily driven by the loss of cold-dwelling and generalist species, and secondly by a gain in hot-dwelling specialists. Our long-term study brings new empirical evidence that the effects of climate and land cover changes on bird communities are intrinsically intertwined, and need to be considered together to monitor and predict the future of farmland biodiversity. It also suggests that low-input, diversified agriculture combined with the maintenance of semi-natural habitat cover can contribute to the conservation of both specialist and generalist bird communities in agricultural landscapes experiencing rapid climate change.
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Submitted on : Monday, May 25, 2020 - 11:10:27 PM
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Pierre Gaüzère, Luc Barbaro, François Calatayud, Karine Princé, Vincent Devictor, et al.. Long-term effects of combined land-use and climate changes on local bird communities in mosaic agricultural landscapes. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, Elsevier Masson, 2020, 289, pp.Online. ⟨10.1016/j.agee.2019.106722⟩. ⟨hal-02620490⟩



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