Several studies estimating the effects of global environmental change on biodiversity are focused on climate change. Yet, non-climatic factors such as changes in land cover can also be of paramount importance. This may be particularly important for habitat specialists associated with human-dominated landscapes, where land cover and climate changes may be largely decoupled. Here, we tested this idea by modelling the influence of climate, landscape composition and pattern, on the predicted future (2021–2050) distributions of 21 farmland bird species in the Iberian Peninsula, using boosted regression trees and 10-km resolution presence/absence data. We also evaluated whether habitat specialist species were more affected by landscape factors than generalist species. Overall, this study showed that the contribution of current landscape composition and pattern to the performance of species distribution models (SDMs) was relatively low. However, SDMs built using either climate or climate plus landscape variables yielded very different predictions of future species range shifts and, hence, of the geographical patterns of change in species richness. Our results indicate that open habitat specialist species tend to expand their range, whereas habitat generalist species tend to retract under climate change scenarios. The effect of incorporating landscape factors were particularly marked on open habitat specialists of conservation concern, for which the expected expansion under climate change seems to be severely constrained by land cover change. Overall, results suggest that particular attention should be given to landscape change in addition to climate when modelling the impacts of environmental changes for both farmland specialist and generalist bird distributions.
Science of the Total Environment – Elsevier
Published: Jun 1, 2018
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