Newswise – Bioscientists from Durham University, UK, and the Biodiversity and Climate Research Center in Senckenberg, Germany, have predicted in their latest research that bird communities around the world will change in 2080 due to climate change, largely due to the shifting of their ranges.
For projections of bird communities out to 2080, the team of scientists linked past distributions of birds to climate data, then applied those relationships to two future climate scenarios – based on greenhouse gas emissions. low and medium – to predict changes in species distribution.
The team looked at not only changes in the number of species in the areas, but also the types of species that would occur. To summarize the changes in species types, they calculated what is called phylogenetic diversity which summarizes the number of different types of birds.
For example, a community that had many closely related species, such as insectivorous songbirds, would have a much lower phylogenetic diversity score than a community that included a mix of more distantly related species, for example more distant songbirds. other species. such as birds of prey, partridges or gulls.
They studied how bird communities around the world might change in the future and found that this climate change will not only affect the number of species, but will also have profound effects on phylogenetic diversity and community composition.
Examples of bird species that are currently increasing phylogenetic diversity in the UK, probably largely due to climate change, include the European bee-eater, a type of insectivorous bird, the black-winged stilt and the Spoonbills, which normally breed further south in Europe, but occasionally breed in the UK. Bee-eaters are only distantly related to other bird species currently breeding in the UK. Similarly, newly breeding species such as spoonbills and black-winged stilts have added to the phylogenetic diversity of birds in the UK in recent years.
The researchers assessed data from a total of 8,768 bird species worldwide to predict how many different lineages might be regionally lost, or added, as species respond to climate change by altering their distribution.
Although researchers predict that species losses are most common in the tropics and subtropics, phylogenetic restructuring of species communities is expected to occur worldwide.
Their study highlights that the preservation of local phylogenetic diversity can be a key to the resilience of biological diversity to environmental changes.
Their full study was published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
“In our study, we examined the effects of global warming on the regional distribution of landbirds around the world. The focus was on effects on species richness as well as various aspects of phylogenetic diversity, primarily how closely species are related to each other,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Alke Voskamp of the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre.
Study co-author Professor Stephen Willis of Durham University said: “Lineage diversity is very often linked to the diversity of traits that species possess and therefore their roles and functions in ecosystems. For example, species from more distant lineages often have different beak types and therefore eat different types of food. The change means that the ecosystem functions that birds perform in an area may also change in the future, with potential consequences for food webs, seed dispersal and plant pollination.
The research highlights the importance of considering various measures in climate impact assessments. It was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the Bavarian Ministry of Science and the Arts, the German Research Foundation and the Leibniz Association and stems from initial work funded by Durham University .
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