Land-use changes have strong impacts on biological communities. Among them, land abandonment is threatening a large number of conservation-concern species associated with semi-natural habitats shaped by ‘traditional’ farming. We focused on the red-backed shrike as a model for investigating the effect of land abandonment on a threatened bird species, and used historical data to model dynamic scenarios. We explored variations in habitat suitability from the 1950s to the present and predicted possible future variations. After investigating local habitat preferences of the species, we formulated a spatially explicit model of habitat suitability for shrikes according to current land-use types; then, we evaluated past habitat suitability, by applying the model to three known past scenarios, and simulated the habitat changes after land abandonment. By combining a habitat-association approach with past and future land use scenarios, we assessed and predicted the effects of habitat changes caused by abandonment. Shrike occurrence was favoured by the cover of four types of grassland and of shrubland with trees, and negatively affected by broadleaved woodlands. The current average habitat suitability is less than half of what it was in the 1950s. Future predictions in a complete abandonment scenario suggest that important decrease could be expected 10 or 20 years after abandonment, and that after 30 years the red-backed shrike would be completely extinct. Alternative scenarios involving partial abandonment suggested that subsidy policies may mitigate the effects of abandonment. Knowing land-use dynamics allowed the exploration of effects of land-use changes and corroborated the importance of low-intensity farming for conservation.
|Titolo:||Glorious past, uncertain present, bad future? : assessing effects of land-use changes on habitat suitability for a threatened farmland bird species|
|Settore Scientifico Disciplinare:||Settore BIO/07 - Ecologia|
Settore BIO/05 - Zoologia
Settore AGR/18 - Nutrizione e Alimentazione Animale
|Data di pubblicazione:||2010|
|Digital Object Identifier (DOI):||10.1016/j.biocon.2010.07.025|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||01 - Articolo su periodico|