Projected reductions in climatic suitability for vulnerable British birds
- 1.3k Downloads
Projections of species’ distributions in future climates can aid adaptive conservation strategies. Although presence-absence or presence-only data have been extensively used for this purpose, modelling changes in spatial patterns of abundance provides a more sensitive tool for estimating species’ vulnerabilities to climate impacts. We used abundance data from citizen science bird surveys in the UK and France to predict spatial patterns of future climatic suitability throughout Great Britain for 124 breeding bird species. We project that climatic suitability of Great Britain will increase for 44% of species and decline for 9% of species by 2080. Of the latter group, most are already red-listed for their severe long-term population declines. If our suitability projections translate into population changes, by 2080, conservation listing status will worsen for 10 species and improve for 28 species. Projected changes in climatic suitability translate into net gains of species abundance in northern and western areas and high turnover in community composition throughout Britain, particularly under medium- and high-emission scenarios. In conclusion, community-wide projections of changes in climatic suitability based on abundance indicate that bird assemblages throughout Great Britain will be impacted by climate change and that species already of concern are likely to be impacted hardest. Of the species projected to benefit, the ability of currently red-listed species to respond positively to climate without other interventions is unclear.
We warmly thank the members and volunteers of the British Trust for Ornithology and the Centre de Recherches sur la Biologie des Populations d’Oiseaux who have contributed to the Breeding Bird Survey and the Suivi Temporel des Oiseaux Communs of French birds. The Breeding Bird Survey and this research are funded jointly by the British Trust for Ornithology, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (on behalf of the Council for Nature Conservation and Countryside, Natural England, Natural Resources Wales and Scottish Natural Heritage) and the Royal Society for Protection of Birds. We also thank two anonymous reviewers for insightful and constructive comments on the manuscript.
This research was funded jointly by the British Trust for Ornithology, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (on behalf of the Council for Nature Conservation and Countryside, Natural England, Natural Resources Wales and Scottish Natural Heritage) and the Royal Society for Protection of Birds.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
- Balmer DE, Gillings S, Caffrey BJ, Swann RL, Downie IS, Fuller RJ (2013) Bird atlas 2007–11: the breeding and wintering birds of Britain and Ireland. BTO, ThetfordGoogle Scholar
- Bivand RG, Pebesma EJ, Gómez-Rubio V (2008) Applied spatial data analysis with R. Springer, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Burnham KP, Anderson DR (2002) Model selection and multimodel inference: a practical information-theoretic approach. Springer-Verlag, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Eaton MA, Aebischer NJ, Brown AF, Hearn RD, Lock L, Musgrove AJ, Noble DG, Stroud DA, Gregory RD (2015) Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the population status of birds in the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man. Brit Birds 108:708–746Google Scholar
- European Bird Census Council (2015) Common bird monitoring schemes in Europe http://www.ebcc.info/index.php?a=cat.13. Accessed 6 July 2017
- European Environment Agency (2012) Corine Land Cover 2006 raster data http://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/data/corine-land-cover-2006-raster-2. Accessed 6 July 2017
- Fuller RJ, Noble DG, Smith KW, Vanhinsbergh D (2005) Recent declines in populations of woodland birds in Britain: a review of possible causes. Brit Birds 98:116–143Google Scholar
- Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research (2008) UKCP09, Met Office Hadley Centre Regional Climate Model (HadRM3-PPE) Data. NCAS British Atmospheric Data CentreGoogle Scholar
- Hagemeijer EJM, Blair MJ (eds) (1997) The EBCC Atlas of European Breeding Birds: their distribution and abundance. T & A D Poyser, LondonGoogle Scholar
- Harris S, Massimino D, Newson SE, Eaton MA, Marchant JH, Balmer DE, Noble DG, Gillings S, Procter D, Pearce-Higgins JW (2016) The Breeding Bird Survey 2015, BTO Research Report 687. British Trust for Ornithology, ThetfordGoogle Scholar
- Huntley B, Green RE, Collingham YC, Willis SG (2007) A Climatic Atlas of European Breeding Birds. Lynx Edicions, BarcelonaGoogle Scholar
- IPCC (2000) Emissions scenarios. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
- IPCC (2014) Climate change 2014: impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. Part A: global and sectoral aspects. Contribution of working group II to the fifth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge University PressGoogle Scholar
- Jones PD, Harris I (2013) CRU TS3.21: climatic research unit (CRU) time-series (TS) version 3.21 of high resolution gridded data of month-by-month variation in climate (Jan. 1901–Dec. 2012), NCAS British Atmospheric Data Centre, 24 September 2013. https://doi.org/10.5285/D0E1585D-3417-485F-87AE-4FCECF10A992 Google Scholar
- Oedekoven CS, Elston DA, Harrison PJ, Brewer MJ, Buckland ST, Johnston A, Foster S, Pearce-Higgins JW (2017) Attributing changes in the distribution of species abundance to weather variables using the example of British breeding birds. Methods Ecol Evol (in press)Google Scholar
- Sexton DMH, Harris G, Murphy J (2010) UKCP09: spatially coherent projections. Met Office Hadley Centre, ExeterGoogle Scholar
- United States Geological Survey (1996) Global 30 Arc-Second Elevation (GTOPO30) https://lta.cr.usgs.gov/GTOPO30. Accessed 6 July 2017