Biodiversity & Conservation

, Volume 13, Issue 11, pp 1997–2014 | Cite as

Latitudinal trends in breeding waterbird species richness in Europe and their environmental correlates

  • Silvia Bárcena
  • Raimundo Real
  • Jesús Olivero
  • J. Mario Vargas


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.

Europe Explanatory hypotheses Latitudinal gradients Path analysis River basins Species diversity Waterbirds 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abrams P.A. 1995. Monotonic or unimodal diversity-productivity gradients: what does competition theory predict? Ecology 76: 2019–2027.Google Scholar
  2. Álvarez J., Bea A., Faus J.M. and Castién E. 1985. Atlas de los Vertebrados Continentales de Álava, Vizcaya y Guipúzcoa. Viceconsejería del Medio Ambiente, Bilbao, Spain.Google Scholar
  3. Arrhenius O. 1921. Species and area. Journal of Ecology 9: 95–99.Google Scholar
  4. Austin M.P. and Margules C.R. 1986. Assessing representativeness. In: Usher M.B. (ed) Wildlife Conservation Evaluation. Chapman & Hall, London, pp. 45–68.Google Scholar
  5. Beintema A.J. and Visser G.H. 1989. The effect of weather on time budgets and development of chicks of meadow birds. Ardea 77: 181–192.Google Scholar
  6. Böhning-Gaese K. and Bauer H.-G. 1996. Changes in species abundance, distribution and diversity in a central European bird community. Conservation Biology 10: 175–187.Google Scholar
  7. Boone R.B. and Krohn W.B. 2000. Partitioning sources of variation in vertebrate species richness. Journal of Biogeography 27: 457–470.Google Scholar
  8. Boström U. and Nilsson S.G. 1983. Latitudinal gradients and local variations in species richness and structure of bird communities on raised peat-bogs in Sweden. Ornis Scandinavica 14: 213–226.Google Scholar
  9. Brichetti P., de Franceschi P. and Baccetti N. 1992. Fauna d'Italia. Calderini, Bologna, Italy.Google Scholar
  10. Brown J.H. and Lomolino M.V. 1998. Biogeography. Sinauer, Sunderland, Massachusetts.Google Scholar
  11. Cartron J.-L. E., Kelly J.F. and Brown J.H. 2000. Constraints on patterns of covariation: a case study in strigid owls. Oikos 90: 381–389.Google Scholar
  12. Ceballos J.J. and GuimerÁ V.M. 1992. Guía de las aves de Jeréz y de la provincia de CÁdiz-Atlas ornitológico de las especies nidificantes. Biblioteca de Urbanismo y Cultura, Jeréz de la Frontera, Spain.Google Scholar
  13. Chase J.M. and Leibold M.A. 2002. Spatial scale dictates the productivity-biodiversity relationship. Nature 416: 427–430.Google Scholar
  14. Chown S.L., Gaston K.J. and Williams P.H. 1998. Global patterns in species richness of pelagic seabirds: the Procellariiformes. Ecography 21: 342–350.Google Scholar
  15. ClimaticAtlas of Europe 1970. UNESCO, Paris, France.Google Scholar
  16. Connell J.H. and Orias E. 1964. The ecological regulation of species diversity. American Naturalist 98: 399–414.Google Scholar
  17. Connor E.F. and McCoy E.D. 1979. The statistics and biology of the species-area relationship. American Naturalist 113: 791–833.Google Scholar
  18. Cook R.E. 1969. Variation in species density of North American birds. Systematic Zoology 18: 63–84.Google Scholar
  19. Cox G.W. 1985. The evolution of avian migration system between temperate and tropical regions of the New World. American Naturalist 126: 451–474.Google Scholar
  20. Cramp S. 1985. The Birds of the Western Paleartic. Vol. 4. Terns to Woodpeckers. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.Google Scholar
  21. Cramp S. and Simmons K.E.L. 1977. The Birds of the Western Paleartic. Vol. 1. Ostrich to Ducks. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.Google Scholar
  22. Cramp S. and Simmons K.E.L. 1980. The Birds of the Western Paleartic. Vol. 2. Hawks to Bustards. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.Google Scholar
  23. Cramp S. and Simmons K.E.L. 1983. The Birds of the Western Paleartic. Vol. 3. Waders to Gulls. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.Google Scholar
  24. Devillers P., Roggeman W., Tricot J., del MÁrmol P., Kerwijn C., Jacob J.P. and Anselin A. 1988. Atlas des oiseaux nicheurs de Belgique. Institut Royal des Sciences Naturelles de Belgique, Brussels, Belgium.Google Scholar
  25. de Juana E. 1980. Atlas ornitológico de la Rioja. Biblioteca de Temas Riojanos, Logroñ o, Spain.Google Scholar
  26. Elmberg J., Nummi P., Pöysä H. and Sjöberg K. 1993. Factors affecting species number and density of dabbling duck guilds in North Europe. Ecography 16: 251–260.Google Scholar
  27. Elosegui J. 1985. Atlas de las Aves Nidificantes de Navarra. Caja de Ahorros de Navarra, Pamplona, Spain.Google Scholar
  28. Fox A.D. and Bell M.C. 1994. Breeding bird communities and environmental variable correlates of Scottish peatland wetlands. Hydrobiologia 279/280: 297–307.Google Scholar
  29. Gaston K.J. 2000. Global patterns in biodiversity. Nature 405: 220–227.Google Scholar
  30. Gibbons D.W., Reid J.B. and Chapman R.A. 1993. The new atlas of breeding birds in Britain and Ireland 1988-1991. Poyser, London.Google Scholar
  31. Guillet A. and Crowe T.M. 1985. Patterns of distribution, species richness, endemism and guild composition of waterbirds in Africa. African Journal of Ecology 23: 89–120.Google Scholar
  32. Guillet A. and Crowe T.M. 1986. A preliminary investigation of patterns of distribution and species richness of southern Africa waterbirds. South African Journal of Wildlife Research 16: 65–81.Google Scholar
  33. Hagemeijer W.J.M. and Blair M. 1997.The EBCC Atlas of European Breeding Birds: Their Distribution and Abundance. T. and A.D. Poyser, London.Google Scholar
  34. Hay R.B. 1992. The oceanic habitats of seabirds: their zonal distribution off Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. Journal of Biogeography 19: 67–85.Google Scholar
  35. Hengeveld R. 1987. Scales of variation: their distribution and ecological importance. Annales Zoologici Fennici 24: 195–202.Google Scholar
  36. Herrera C.M. 1978. On the breeding distribution pattern of European migrant birds: MacArthur's theme reexamined. Auk 95: 496–509.Google Scholar
  37. James F.C. and McCulloch C.E. 1990. Multivariate analysis in ecology and systematics: panacea or Pandora's box. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 21: 129–166.Google Scholar
  38. Järvinen O. and Sammalisto L. 1976. Regional trends in the avifauna of Finnish peatland bogs.Annales Zoologici Fennici 13: 31-43Google Scholar
  39. Järvinen O. and Väisänen R.A. 1978 Ecological zoogeography of north European waders, or why do so many waders breed in the north? Oikos 30: 496–507.Google Scholar
  40. Järvinen O. and Väisänen R.A. 1980. Quantitative biogeography of Finnish land birds as compared with regionality in other taxa. Annales Zoologici Fennici 17: 67–85.Google Scholar
  41. Järvinen O., Kouki J. and Häyrinen U. 1987. Reversed latitudinal gradients in total density and species richness of birds breeding in Finnish mires. Ornis Fennica 64: 67–73.Google Scholar
  42. Klopfer P.H. 1959. Environmental determinants of faunal diversity. American Naturalist 93: 337–342.Google Scholar
  43. Koskimies J. and Lathi L. 1964. Cold-hardiness of the newly hatched young in relation to ecology and distribution in ten species of European ducks. Auk 81: 281–307.Google Scholar
  44. Lalli C.M. and Parsons T.R. 1993. Biological Oceanography: An Introduction. Pergamon Press, Oxford, UK.Google Scholar
  45. Laut P., Margules C. and Nix H.A. 1975. Australian Biophysical Regions. Australian Government Printing Service, Canberra, Australia.Google Scholar
  46. Legendre P. 1993. Spatial autocorrelation: trouble or new paradigm? Ecology 74: 1659–1673.Google Scholar
  47. Lomolino M.V. 2001. The species-area relationship: new challenges for an old pattern. Progress in Physical Geography 25: 1–21.Google Scholar
  48. MacArthur R.H. 1959. On the breeding distribution pattern of North American migrant birds. Auk 76: 318–325.Google Scholar
  49. Mann K.H. and Lazier J.R.N. 1991. Dynamics of Marine Ecosystems: Biological-Physical Interaction in the Oceans. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Boston, Massachusetts.Google Scholar
  50. Mittelbach G.G., Steiner C.F., Scheiner S.M., Gross K.L., Reynolds H.L., Waide R.B., Willig M.R., Dodson S.I. and Gouch L. 2001. What is the observed relationship between species richness and productivity? Ecology 82: 2381–2396.Google Scholar
  51. Mönkkönen M., Helle P. and Soppela K. 1990. Numerical and behavioural responses of migrant passerines to experimental manipulation of resident tits (Parus spp.): heterospecific attraction in northern breeding communities? Oecologia 85: 218–225.Google Scholar
  52. Muntaner J., Ferrer X. and Martínez-Vilalta A. 1983. Atlas dels Ocells nidificants de Catalunya i Andorra. Ketres Editora, Barcelona, Spain.Google Scholar
  53. Olivero J., Real R. and Vargas J.M. 1998. Distribution of breeding, wintering, and resident waterbirds in Europe: biotic regions and the macroclimate. Ornis Fennica 75: 153–175.Google Scholar
  54. Peris S.I. and Carnero J.I. 1988. Atlas Ornitológico de la provincia de Salamanca. Diputación de Salamanca, Salamanca, Spain.Google Scholar
  55. Pianka E.R. 1966. Latitudinal gradients in species diversity: a review of concepts. American Naturalist 100: 33–46.Google Scholar
  56. Purroy F.J. 1997. Atlas de las aves de Españ a (1975-1995). Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.Google Scholar
  57. Rahbek C. 1997. The relationship among area, elevation and regional species richness in neotropical birds. American Naturalist 149: 875–902.Google Scholar
  58. Real R., Vargas J.M. and Antúnez A. 1993. Environmental influences on local amphibian diversity: the role of floods on river basins. Biodiversity and Conservation 2: 376–399.Google Scholar
  59. Rheinwald G. 1977. Atlas de Brutverbreitung Westdeustscher Vogelarten. Kartierung 1975. Dachverband Deutscher Avifaunisten, Bonn, Germany.Google Scholar
  60. Rice W.R. 1989. Analyzing tables of statistical tests. Evolution 43: 223–225.Google Scholar
  61. Richerson P.J. and Lum K. 1980. Patterns of plant species diversity in California: relation to weather and topography. American Naturalist 116: 504–536.Google Scholar
  62. Rohde K. 1992. Latitudinal gradients in species diversity: the search for the primary cause. Oikos 65: 514–527.Google Scholar
  63. Rufino R. 1989. Atlas das Aves que nidificam em Portugal Continental. Serviço Nacional de Parques, Reservas e Conservação da Natureza, Lisboa, Portugal.Google Scholar
  64. Sharrock J.T.R. 1976. The Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland. T. and A.D. Poyser, Berkhamsted, UK.Google Scholar
  65. Shifferli A., Geroudet P. and Winkler R. 1980. Atlas des Oiseaux nicheurs de Suisse. Station ornithologique suisse de Sempach, Sempach, Switzerland.Google Scholar
  66. Stevens G.C. 1989. The latitudinal gradient in geographical range: how so many species coexist in the tropics. American Naturalist 133: 240–256.Google Scholar
  67. The Times Atlas of the World 1988. Times Books, London.Google Scholar
  68. Tilman D. 1982. Resource Competition and Community Structure. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.Google Scholar
  69. Tramer E.J. 1974. On latitudinal gradients in avian diversity. Condor 76: 123–130.Google Scholar
  70. Tucker G.M. and Evans M.I. 1997. Habitats for Birds in Europe: A Conservation Strategy for the Wider Environment. Birdlife International (Birdlife Conservation Series no. 6), Cambridge, UK.Google Scholar
  71. Turner J.R.G., Lennon J.J. and Lawrenson J.A. 1988. British birds species distributions and the energy theory. Nature 335: 539–541.Google Scholar
  72. Urios V., Escobar J.V., Pardo R. and Gómez J.A. 1991. Atlas de las Aves Nidificantes de la Comunidad Valenciana. Generalitat Valenciana, Consellería d'Agricultura i Pesca, Spain.Google Scholar
  73. USSR National Committee for the International Hydrological Decade 1977. Atlas of World Water Balance. UNESCO, Paris, France.Google Scholar
  74. Vaughn C.C. and Taylor C.M. 2000. Macroecology of a host-parasite relationship. Ecography 23: 11–20.Google Scholar
  75. Weller M.W. 1999. Wetland Birds: Habitat Resources and Conservation Implications. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.Google Scholar
  76. Willson M.F. 1976. The breeding distribution of North American birds: a critique of Mac Arthur (1959). Wilson Bulletin 88: 582–587.Google Scholar
  77. Whittaker R.J., Willis K.J. and Field R. 2001. Scale and species richness: towards a general hierarchical theory of species diversity. Journal of Biogeography 28: 453–470.Google Scholar
  78. Yeatman L. 1976. Atlas des Oiseaux nicheurs de France. Société Ornithologique de France, Paris, France.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Silvia Bárcena
    • 1
  • Raimundo Real
    • 1
  • Jesús Olivero
    • 1
  • J. Mario Vargas
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de Biología Animal, Facultad de CienciasUniversidad de MálagaMálagaSpain

Personalised recommendations