Assessing impacts of land abandonment on Mediterranean biodiversity using indicators based on bird and butterfly monitoring data

HERRANDO S., BROTONS L., ANTON M., PARAMO F., VILLERO D., TITEUX N., QUESADA J., STEFANESCU C. (2015) Assessing impacts of land abandonment on Mediterranean biodiversity using indicators based on bird and butterfly monitoring data. Environmental Conservation. : 0-0.
Link
Doi: 10.1017/S0376892915000260

Abstract:

In Europe, and particularly in the Mediterranean Basin, the abandonment of traditional land-use practices has been reported as one of the main causes of decline for open-habitat species. Data from large-scale bird and butterfly monitoring schemes in the north-east Iberian Peninsula were used to evaluate the impact that land abandonment has had on local biodiversity. Species’ habitat preferences, along a gradient from open to forest habitats, were significantly related to population trends: for both birds and butterflies, open-habitat species showed the most marked declines while forest species increased moderately. Multi-species indicators for tracking the impact of land abandonment on bird and butterfly populations were developed using habitat preference estimates and population trend indices. The patterns shown by these indicators were in line with the changes occurring in forest cover in the monitoring sites. This study reveals that multi-species indicators based on monitoring data from different taxonomic groups (here, birds and butterflies) may usefully be employed to track impacts of environmental change on biodiversity. Copyright © Foundation for Environmental Conservation 2015

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Exploring the links between forest transition and landscape changes in the Mediterranean. Does forest recovery really lead to better landscape quality?

Marull J., Otero I., Stefanescu C., Tello E., Miralles M., Coll F., Pons M., Diana G.L. (2015) Exploring the links between forest transition and landscape changes in the Mediterranean. Does forest recovery really lead to better landscape quality?. Agroforestry Systems. : 0-0.
Link
Doi: 10.1007/s10457-015-9808-8

Abstract:

A growing number of studies argue that forest transition should be enhanced by policymakers given its potential benefits, for instance in slowing climate change through carbon sequestration. Yet the effects of forest transition in landscape heterogeneity and biodiversity remain poorly understood. In this paper we explore the relationships between the forest transition and the landscape changes occurred in a Mediterranean mountain area. Historical land-use maps were built from cadastral cartography (1854; 1956; 2012). Metrics on land-cover change, landscape structure, and landscape functioning were calculated. Multiyear data on butterfly assemblages from two transects (1994–2012) was used as indicator of land-use change effects on biodiversity. Results show a forest expansion process in former cereal fields, vineyards and pasturelands along with rural out-migration and land abandonment. Such forest transition involved large changes in landscape structure and functioning. As peasant management of integrated agrosilvopastoral systems disappeared, landscape became less diverse. Even if forest area is now larger than in mid-nineteenth century, ecological connectivity among woodland did not substantially improve. Instead, ecological connectivity across open habitats has greatly decreased as cereal fields, vineyards, meadows and pasturelands have almost disappeared. Butterfly assemblages under changing land-uses highlights the importance of agro-forest mosaics not only for these species but for biodiversity at large in the last decades. Our work emphasizes that conservation of landscapes with a long history of human use needs to take into account the role of humans in shaping ecological features and biodiversity. Hence the suitability of forest transitions should be critically examined in relation to context and policy objectives. © 2015 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht

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