Large-scale changes in community composition: determining land use and climate change signals
Human land use and climate change are regarded as the main driving forces of present-day and future species extinction. They may potentially lead to a profound reorganisation of the composition and structure of natural communities throughout the world. However, studies that explicitly investigate both forms of impact—land use and climate change—are uncommon. Here, we quantify community change of Dutch breeding bird communities over the past 25 years using time lag analysis. We evaluate the chronological sequence of the community temperature index (CTI) which reflects community response to temperature increase (increasing CTI indicates an increase in relative abundance of more southerly species), and the temporal trend of the community specialisation index (CSI) which reflects community response to land use change (declining CSI indicates an increase of generalist species). We show that the breeding bird fauna underwent distinct directional change accompanied by significant changes both in CTI and CSI which suggests a causal connection between climate and land use change and bird community change. The assemblages of particular breeding habitats neither changed at the same speed and nor were they equally affected by climate versus land use changes. In the rapidly changing farmland community, CTI and CSI both declined slightly. In contrast, CTI increased in the more slowly changing forest and heath communities, while CSI remained stable. Coastal assemblages experienced both an increase in CTI and a decline in CSI. Wetland birds experienced the fastest community change of all breeding habitat assemblages but neither CTI nor CSI showed a significant trend. Overall, our results suggest that the interaction between climate and land use changes differs between habitats, and that comparing trends in CSI and CTI may be useful in tracking the impact of each determinant.
PLoS ONE 7: e35272
Kampichler C., Van Turnhout C.A.M., Devictor V. & Van der Jeugd H.P.