Past and future impact of climate change on foraging habitat suitability in a high-alpine bird species: Management options to buffer against global warming effects

Brambilla, M.; Resano Mayor, Jaime; Scridel, D.; Anderle, M.; Bogliani, G.; Braunisch, Veronika; Capelli, F.; Cortesi, M.; Horrenberger, Nathan; Pedrini, P.; Sangalli, B.; Chamberlain, D.; Arlettaz, Raphaël; Rubolini, D. (2018). Past and future impact of climate change on foraging habitat suitability in a high-alpine bird species: Management options to buffer against global warming effects. Biological conservation, 221, pp. 209-218. Elsevier 10.1016/j.biocon.2018.03.008

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The majority of predictions about the impacts of climate change on wildlife have relied either on the study ofspecies' physiological tolerance or on broad-scale distribution models. In comparison, little attention has beenpaid to species' mechanistic responses tofine-grained, climate-induced modifications of habitat suitability.However, such studies would be pivotal to the understanding of species' ecological requirements (and hencetheir adaptive potential to environmental change) and the design of management strategies. We investigatedforaging microhabitat selection in a potentially climate-change sensitive species, the white-winged snowfinchMontifringilla nivalis, during the breeding season in the Alps. Our microhabitat selection model considered to-pography, ground-cover variables and sward height within a 5-m radius at foraging and control locations.Habitat selection was positively affected by grassland cover, negatively by sward height and quadratically bysnow cover (optimum around 40%); birds avoided anthropized (urban areas, roads) sites. We estimated past(1976) and future (2066) climate-driven changes in foraging microhabitat suitability, assuming a progressivelyearlier date of snowmelt due to increasing temperatures over this entire time span. We then modelled thepotential impact of snowmelt (and related sward height) on habitat suitability under two scenarios: maintainingthe current situation (i.e. irregular seasonal grazing) and implementing targeted management in an attempt tomitigate impacts of earlier snowmelt. Predicted foraging habitat suitability (estimated as the fraction of suitableplots) significantly declined over time (−23% between 1976 and 2016, further 32% loss by 2066). However,model outputs demonstrated that maintaining sward height below 6 cm on breeding grounds (e.g. by regulargrazing) would significantly decrease the predicted loss of suitable foraging habitat. Detailed information aboutpatterns of resource exploitation allows the identification of mechanistic, functional responses of species toenvironmental change, and enables an evaluation of habitat management options that can buffer against thedetrimental effects of global warming.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE)
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE) > Conservation Biology

UniBE Contributor:

Resano Mayor, Jaime; Braunisch, Veronika; Horrenberger, Nathan and Arlettaz, Raphaël

Subjects:

500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
500 Science > 590 Animals (Zoology)

ISSN:

0006-3207

Publisher:

Elsevier

Language:

English

Submitter:

Olivier Roth

Date Deposited:

29 May 2019 14:15

Last Modified:

29 May 2019 14:15

Publisher DOI:

10.1016/j.biocon.2018.03.008

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.126691

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/126691

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