Drivers of change in mountain and upland bird populations in Europe
Author(s): Alba, R., Kasoar, T., Chamberlain, D., Buchanhan, Thompson, D. & Pearce-Higgins, J.W.
Published: January 2022
Journal: Ibis Volume: 164 ( part 3 )
Digital Identifier No. (DOI): /10.1111/ibi.13043
This study systematically reviews the existing scientific literature for 34 European mountain and upland species to quantify which drivers of environmental change have been most consistently associated with positive or negative demographic responses. The results of the review revealed that raptors (such as Griffon Vulture and Golden Eagle) and gamebirds (such as Rock Partridge and Red Grouse) were the most-studied species, whereas mountain specialists and arctic–alpine species were little studied.
Using a standardized threat classification, the analyses reveal significant negative impacts of hunting, collision with energy-generation infrastructures, predation by competitive species, human disturbance and poisoning. There were significant positive effects for management of non-target species, but less support for effects of drivers operating over longer timescales, such as climate and land-use changes.
Analysis of trends in drivers found evidence of increasing temperatures and vegetation encroachment, whereas agricultural impacts decreased, which was largely related to abandonment of grazing. A lack of fine-grained studies investigating ecological mechanisms and population responses to widespread impacts were highlighted. Some drivers have been well studied but it is clear that more detailed and longer-term studies are needed, especially on the requirements of individual species and the impacts their populations face, if we are to identify the priorities for conservation action for mountain and upland birds.
This is the first review to objectively quantify the impacts of environmental change on mountain birds at the European scale and, as such, it provides an opportunity to direct and prioritise future work on these species and their habitats.
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