Habitat loss and degradation are main global threats to biodiversity, and land-use changes in agriculture-dominated landscapes are crucial for an important portion of biodiversity, especially in Europe. We evaluated the effects of land-use changes (1954–2012) on a threatened species, the ortolan bunting, in an agricultural area crucial for its conservation in Italy. We built a distribution model for ortolan bunting in current landscapes and then re-projected it to past scenarios (1954 and 1999–2000). We evaluated the most important land-use changes occurred and estimated their effects on habitat suitability. Bunting occurrence was mostly affected by the extent of grassland (positively; used as foraging/breeding ground), shrubland (quadratic effect; perches/shelter), forest and urbanized land (negatively), and by solar radiation (positively) and slope (quadratic), consistent with other studies carried out especially in southern Europe. The potential distribution of the species was much larger in the past: the estimated decline in suitable habitat is 44–72 % (since 1999–2000/1954), coherent with historical data suggesting strong decline and contraction. Changes in suitability (1954–2012) were mostly associated with changes in the cover of forest, vineyards and abandoned areas (negatively), and shrubland (positively). Land-use/land-cover changes are the main drivers of species occurrence and of habitat decline. The heterogeneous landscape of hilly/low-mountain sites in this area, characterized by a mix of habitats offering complementary resources to ortolan buntings and other species of conservation concern, is currently threatened by abandonment and intensification, but its maintenance may be promoted by a correct definition of Rural Development Programme measures.

Sixty years of habitat decline: impact of land-cover changes in northern Italy on the decreasing ortolan bunting Emberiza hortulana / M. Brambilla, M. Gustin, S. Vitulano, R. Falco, V. Bergero, I. Negri, G. Bogliani, C. Celada. - In: REGIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE. - ISSN 1436-3798. - 17:2(2017 Feb), pp. 323-333. [10.1007/s10113-016-1019-y]

Sixty years of habitat decline : impact of land-cover changes in northern Italy on the decreasing ortolan bunting Emberiza hortulana

M. Brambilla
;
2017-02

Abstract

Habitat loss and degradation are main global threats to biodiversity, and land-use changes in agriculture-dominated landscapes are crucial for an important portion of biodiversity, especially in Europe. We evaluated the effects of land-use changes (1954–2012) on a threatened species, the ortolan bunting, in an agricultural area crucial for its conservation in Italy. We built a distribution model for ortolan bunting in current landscapes and then re-projected it to past scenarios (1954 and 1999–2000). We evaluated the most important land-use changes occurred and estimated their effects on habitat suitability. Bunting occurrence was mostly affected by the extent of grassland (positively; used as foraging/breeding ground), shrubland (quadratic effect; perches/shelter), forest and urbanized land (negatively), and by solar radiation (positively) and slope (quadratic), consistent with other studies carried out especially in southern Europe. The potential distribution of the species was much larger in the past: the estimated decline in suitable habitat is 44–72 % (since 1999–2000/1954), coherent with historical data suggesting strong decline and contraction. Changes in suitability (1954–2012) were mostly associated with changes in the cover of forest, vineyards and abandoned areas (negatively), and shrubland (positively). Land-use/land-cover changes are the main drivers of species occurrence and of habitat decline. The heterogeneous landscape of hilly/low-mountain sites in this area, characterized by a mix of habitats offering complementary resources to ortolan buntings and other species of conservation concern, is currently threatened by abandonment and intensification, but its maintenance may be promoted by a correct definition of Rural Development Programme measures.
bare ground; conservation; grassland; land abandonment; MaxEnt; Rural Development Programme
Settore BIO/07 - Ecologia
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2434/932809
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