Spatial ecology in a changing world

New article: Functional homogenization along habitat gradients

In this new study published in the Global Ecology & Biogeography, we developed a multidimensional measure of niche specialization and apply it to test whether functional homogenization of bird communities in a Mediterranean region is promoted by anthropogenic habitat transformation.

We used data on bird species occurrences and landscape features to derive three orthogonal landscape gradients, which were taken as niche dimensions. Specialization and habitat preference indices were created for 103 terrestrial bird species on the basis of their frequency of occurrence variation along the landscape gradients. These indices, together with species rarity, were then averaged for bird communities and sued to analyse the patterns of variation of communities’ mean specialization, mean rarity and mean habitat preference values along a gradient of agricultural–forest habitat mosaics.
Wherever we found a significant variation in the degree of specialization along the agricultural–forest gradient, agricultural habitats held more specialized bird communities than did forest ones and bore, on average, rarer species. Thus, results contradicted our initial hypothesis that humanized areas would bear more functionally homogenized bird communities. Higher a-diversity values tended to be associated with generalist communities and with those having rarer species. Estimations of bird community specialization for different niche dimensions can behave differently along certain landscape gradients, and some of these differences can be explained by the variation of mean habitat pref- erences. Thus, we argue that a multidimensional approach to assess average niche breadth of communities can be more informative than a unidimensional measure. Our results suggest that widespread land abandonment and current secondary forest expansion throughout the Mediterranean area are promoting functional homogenization of bird communities. It would be desirable to construct larger- scale indicators of functional homogenization in order to monitor communities’ responses to widespread landscape changes.

Nou article: Homogenització funcional al llarg de gradients de paisatge

En aquest article publicat a la revista Global Ecology & Biogeography, hem desenvolupat mesures multidimensional de quantificació del nínxol ecològic i les hem aplicat al test de la hipòtesi de si les transformacions causades per l’acció humana, com l’agricultura o l’abandonament rural, promouen un augment en la homogenització funcional de les comunitats d’ocells a la Mediterrània.

Clavero, L. & Brotons, L. 2010. Functional homogenization of bird communities along habitat gradients: accounting for niche multidimensionality. Global Ecology & Biogeography, DOI: 10.1111/j.1466-8238.2010.00544.x.

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