Background: Inland wetlands are crucial for biodiversity conservation, especially in highly-urbanized landscapes. In the European Union, many wetlands are included in the EU 'Natura 2000' network, the main tool for biodiversity conservation over the continent, which requires the development of site-specific management plans. Clear and feasible recommendations are necessary to provide site managers with effective tools for the maintenance of biodiversity in these unstable environments. Birds are excellent umbrella species, therefore a management targeted at increasing habitat suitability for focal bird species would likely benefit broader wetland biological communities. Methods: During spring-summer 2017, we collected presence/absence data for 10 bird species of conservation interest at a site scale for 21 Natura 2000 sites. We also carried out a point count survey to detect presence/absence of four reedbed-dwelling species at 75 points. At the site level, we estimated landscape characteristics from regional GIS-layers, whereas fine-scaled habitat composition was recorded on the field within a 100 m-buffer around the 75 points. We analysed the effect of the extent of different habitats on species' occurrence probability by means of multi-species binomial multivariate adaptive regression splines (MARS) at both scales. We also run species-specific MARS models to compare their performance with those of multi-species models. Results: At the site scale, the extent of the reedbeds/mires was positively associated with the occurrence of all species of conservation concern. At the point-count scale, reedbed extent positively predicted species' occurrence, but only in presence of patches of clear shallow water. Species-specific MARS models showed qualitatively similar results for some species, but generally were outperformed by multi-species ones. Conclusions: Multi-species MARS models confirmed to be an efficient tool in disclosing species-habitat relationships even for set of species including scarce taxa and when only short-term monitoring data are available. In terms of conservation measures, our findings stress the importance of Phragmites australis reedbed as a key habitat for avian biodiversity, but only when it is flooded and interspersed with scattered patches of open water. The preservation of wide (> 100/150 ha) and flooded reedbeds structured in spots of no less than 2 ha emerges as the main conservation measure for the long-term conservation of the threatened avifauna of inland pre-Alpine wetlands.

Multi-species habitat models highlight the key importance of flooded reedbeds for inland wetland birds: Implications for management and conservation / M. Morganti, M. Manica, G. Bogliani, M. Gustin, F. Luoni, P. Trotti, V. Perin, M. Brambilla. - In: AVIAN RESEARCH. - ISSN 2053-7166. - 10:1(2019), pp. 15.1-15.13. [10.1186/s40657-019-0154-9]

Multi-species habitat models highlight the key importance of flooded reedbeds for inland wetland birds: Implications for management and conservation

M. Morganti
Primo
;
M. Brambilla
Ultimo
2019

Abstract

Background: Inland wetlands are crucial for biodiversity conservation, especially in highly-urbanized landscapes. In the European Union, many wetlands are included in the EU 'Natura 2000' network, the main tool for biodiversity conservation over the continent, which requires the development of site-specific management plans. Clear and feasible recommendations are necessary to provide site managers with effective tools for the maintenance of biodiversity in these unstable environments. Birds are excellent umbrella species, therefore a management targeted at increasing habitat suitability for focal bird species would likely benefit broader wetland biological communities. Methods: During spring-summer 2017, we collected presence/absence data for 10 bird species of conservation interest at a site scale for 21 Natura 2000 sites. We also carried out a point count survey to detect presence/absence of four reedbed-dwelling species at 75 points. At the site level, we estimated landscape characteristics from regional GIS-layers, whereas fine-scaled habitat composition was recorded on the field within a 100 m-buffer around the 75 points. We analysed the effect of the extent of different habitats on species' occurrence probability by means of multi-species binomial multivariate adaptive regression splines (MARS) at both scales. We also run species-specific MARS models to compare their performance with those of multi-species models. Results: At the site scale, the extent of the reedbeds/mires was positively associated with the occurrence of all species of conservation concern. At the point-count scale, reedbed extent positively predicted species' occurrence, but only in presence of patches of clear shallow water. Species-specific MARS models showed qualitatively similar results for some species, but generally were outperformed by multi-species ones. Conclusions: Multi-species MARS models confirmed to be an efficient tool in disclosing species-habitat relationships even for set of species including scarce taxa and when only short-term monitoring data are available. In terms of conservation measures, our findings stress the importance of Phragmites australis reedbed as a key habitat for avian biodiversity, but only when it is flooded and interspersed with scattered patches of open water. The preservation of wide (> 100/150 ha) and flooded reedbeds structured in spots of no less than 2 ha emerges as the main conservation measure for the long-term conservation of the threatened avifauna of inland pre-Alpine wetlands.
Multivariate adaptive regression spline; Natura 2000; Pre-Alpine belt; Species-habitat relationship; Umbrella species; Urbanized landscape
Settore BIO/07 - Ecologia
Settore BIO/05 - Zoologia
Article (author)
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2434/869942
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