Latitudinal trends in breeding waterbird species richness in Europe and their environmental correlates
- Cite this article as:
- Bárcena, S., Real, R., Olivero, J. et al. Biodiversity and Conservation (2004) 13: 1997. doi:10.1023/B:BIOC.0000040000.23854.b9
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We analysed the latitudinal trend in the number of breeding waterbird species in Europe using the main river basins as geographic units. The number of breeding waterbird species decreases southward, but this latitudinal trend is composed of two opposed patterns: a southward increase in the number of resident species (RS) and a southward decline in the number of aestival species (SS). Following both a bivariate and a multivariate approach, we tested nine hypotheses about the environmental causes of these trends. Using Partial Regression Analysis and Path Analysis, we found that SS richness depends on the bloom in food availability in areas with high seasonality more than on the other environmental factors; environmental stress due to an excess of energy is the second most important factor involved, whereas the third factor involved in the distribution of SS richness is competition with RS. For RS the factors involved are the climatic stability of the basins and their productivity. We also discuss the suitability of river basins as observational units in this kind of analyses and the marginal influence of their surface area in the latitudinal gradients detected here.