The majority of predictions about the impacts of climate change on wildlife have relied either on the study of species' physiological tolerance or on broad-scale distribution models. In comparison, little attention has been paid to species' mechanistic responses to fine-grained, climate-induced modifications of habitat suitability. However, such studies would be pivotal to the understanding of species' ecological requirements (and hence their adaptive potential to environmental change) and the design of management strategies. We investigated foraging microhabitat selection in a potentially climate-change sensitive species, the white-winged snowfinch Montifringilla nivalis, during the breeding season in the Alps. Our microhabitat selection model considered topography, ground-cover variables and sward height within a 5-m radius at foraging and control locations. Habitat selection was positively affected by grassland cover, negatively by sward height and quadratically by snow cover (optimum around 40%); birds avoided anthropized (urban areas, roads) sites. We estimated past (1976) and future (2066) climate-driven changes in foraging microhabitat suitability, assuming a progressively earlier date of snowmelt due to increasing temperatures over this entire time span. We then modelled the potential impact of snowmelt (and related sward height) on habitat suitability under two scenarios: maintaining the current situation (i.e. irregular seasonal grazing) and implementing targeted management in an attempt to mitigate impacts of earlier snowmelt. Predicted foraging habitat suitability (estimated as the fraction of suitable plots) significantly declined over time (−23% between 1976 and 2016, further 32% loss by 2066). However, model outputs demonstrated that maintaining sward height below 6 cm on breeding grounds (e.g. by regular grazing) would significantly decrease the predicted loss of suitable foraging habitat. Detailed information about patterns of resource exploitation allows the identification of mechanistic, functional responses of species to environmental change, and enables an evaluation of habitat management options that can buffer against the detrimental effects of global warming.

Past and future impact of climate change on foraging habitat suitability in a high-alpine bird species : management options to buffer against global warming effects / M. Brambilla, J. Resano-Mayor, D. Scridel, M. Anderle, G. Bogliani, V. Braunisch, F. Capelli, M. Cortesi, N. Horrenberger, P. Pedrini, B. Sangalli, D. Chamberlain, R. Arlettaz, D. Rubolini. - In: BIOLOGICAL CONSERVATION. - ISSN 0006-3207. - 221:(2018 May), pp. 209-218. [10.1016/j.biocon.2018.03.008]

Past and future impact of climate change on foraging habitat suitability in a high-alpine bird species : management options to buffer against global warming effects

M. Brambilla;D. Rubolini
2018

Abstract

The majority of predictions about the impacts of climate change on wildlife have relied either on the study of species' physiological tolerance or on broad-scale distribution models. In comparison, little attention has been paid to species' mechanistic responses to fine-grained, climate-induced modifications of habitat suitability. However, such studies would be pivotal to the understanding of species' ecological requirements (and hence their adaptive potential to environmental change) and the design of management strategies. We investigated foraging microhabitat selection in a potentially climate-change sensitive species, the white-winged snowfinch Montifringilla nivalis, during the breeding season in the Alps. Our microhabitat selection model considered topography, ground-cover variables and sward height within a 5-m radius at foraging and control locations. Habitat selection was positively affected by grassland cover, negatively by sward height and quadratically by snow cover (optimum around 40%); birds avoided anthropized (urban areas, roads) sites. We estimated past (1976) and future (2066) climate-driven changes in foraging microhabitat suitability, assuming a progressively earlier date of snowmelt due to increasing temperatures over this entire time span. We then modelled the potential impact of snowmelt (and related sward height) on habitat suitability under two scenarios: maintaining the current situation (i.e. irregular seasonal grazing) and implementing targeted management in an attempt to mitigate impacts of earlier snowmelt. Predicted foraging habitat suitability (estimated as the fraction of suitable plots) significantly declined over time (−23% between 1976 and 2016, further 32% loss by 2066). However, model outputs demonstrated that maintaining sward height below 6 cm on breeding grounds (e.g. by regular grazing) would significantly decrease the predicted loss of suitable foraging habitat. Detailed information about patterns of resource exploitation allows the identification of mechanistic, functional responses of species to environmental change, and enables an evaluation of habitat management options that can buffer against the detrimental effects of global warming.
Alps; Habitat selection; Microhabitat; Mitigation; Montifringilla nivalis; Snow cover; Snowmelt; Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics; Nature and Landscape Conservation
Settore BIO/07 - Ecologia
mag-2018
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2434/635925
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