Land-use legacies rather than climate change are driving the recent upward shift of the mountain tree line in the Pyrenees

Ameztegui A., Coll L., Brotons L., Ninot J.M. (2016) Land-use legacies rather than climate change are driving the recent upward shift of the mountain tree line in the Pyrenees. Global Ecology and Biogeography. 25: 263-273.
Link
Doi: 10.1111/geb.12407

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Aim: To assess the effects of climate change, past land uses and physiography on the current position of the tree line in the Catalan Pyrenees and its dynamics between 1956 and 2006. Location: More than 1000 linear kilometres of sub-alpine tree line in the Catalan Pyrenees (north-east Spain) Methods: Using aerial photographs and supervised classification, we reclassified the images into a binary raster with 'tree' and 'non-tree' values, and determined canopy cover in 1956 and 2006. We then determined the change in position of the tree line between 1956 and 2006 based on changes in forest cover. We used the distance from the position of the tree line in 1956 to the theoretical potential tree line - determined from interpretation of aerial photographs, identifying the highest old remnants of forest for homogeneous areas of the landscape in terms of bioclimatic conditions, bedrock, landform and exposure - as a surrogate of intensity of past land uses. Results: Our analyses showed that the Pyrenean tree line has moved upwards on average almost 40m (mean advance±SE: 35.3±0.5m, P

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Niche constraints to the northwards expansion of the common genet (Genetta genetta, Linnaeus 1758) in Europe

Camps D., Villero D., Ruiz-Olmo J., Brotons L. (2016) Niche constraints to the northwards expansion of the common genet (Genetta genetta, Linnaeus 1758) in Europe. Mammalian Biology. 81: 399-409.
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Doi: 10.1016/j.mambio.2016.03.003

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The objective of our study was to evaluate the hypothesis that the constraints on the expansion of the range of the common genet (Genetta genetta) in Europe are limitations derived from the species' patterns of habitat selection. From a sample of 2073 genet occurrence data and using species distribution models (SDM) built with Maxent, our results show that temperature-related variables were the main factor explaining the current distribution of the species. The maximum winter temperature was by far the most important environmental constraint of the presence of the species, with genets showing a preference for higher temperatures in the two coldest seasons of the year. Genets appeared also associated to Mediterranean zones, preferred mid-elevations and were more often present in habitats dominated by sclerophyllous vegetation. Our results stongly support the view that the influence of temperature is a major limiting factor that impedes the spread of the genet northwards and eastwards into continental Europe and limits its distribution. Nevertheless, the current spread of its colonization fronts could lead to future changes in its distribution, so it would seem that its expansion has not yet finished. © 2016 Deutsche Gesellschaft für Säugetierkunde.

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Integrating fire spread patterns in fire modelling at landscape scale

Duane, A., Aquilué, N., Gil-Tena, A., Brotons, L. (2016) Integrating fire spread patterns in fire modelling at landscape scale. Environmental Modelling and Software. 86: 219-231.
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Doi: 10.1016/j.envsoft.2016.10.001

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Bridging the gap between biodiversity data and policy reporting needs: An Essential Biodiversity Variables perspective

Geijzendorffer, I.R., Regan, E.C., Pereira, H.M., Brotons, L., Brummitt, N., Gavish, Y., Haase, P., Martin, C.S., Mihoub, J.-B., Secades, C., Schmeller, D.S., Stoll, S., Wetzel, F.T., Walters, M., Cadotte, M. (2016) Bridging the gap between biodiversity data and policy reporting needs: An Essential Biodiversity Variables perspective. Journal of Applied Ecology. 53: 1341-1350.
Link
Doi: 10.1111/1365-2664.12417

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Mediterranean fire regime effects on pine-oak forest landscape mosaics under global change in NE Spain

Gil-Tena A., Aquilué N., Duane A., De Cáceres M., Brotons L. (2016) Mediterranean fire regime effects on pine-oak forest landscape mosaics under global change in NE Spain. European Journal of Forest Research. 135: 403-416.
Link
Doi: 10.1007/s10342-016-0943-1

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Afforestation after land abandonment and the occurrence of large fires have significantly altered the composition of pine-oak ecosystems in the Mediterranean since 1950s, the latter favouring the prevalence of oak forests and shrublands to that of pine forests. Nevertheless, our ability to integrate the processes driving these changes in modelling tools and to project them under future global change scenarios is scarce. This study aims at investigating how Mediterranean forest landscape composition and seral stages may be affected by mid-term changes in fire regime and climate. Taking Catalonia (NE Spain) as study area, we predicted yearly changes in forest landscape composition using the MEDFIRE model which allows assessing the effects of different fire regimes on landscape dynamics such as post-fire regeneration and afforestation. We considered three climatic treatments based on observed and projected climate, two fire regimes largely differing in the amount of area burnt and the number of large fires, and two fire suppression strategies. While projected afforestation continued to increase forest cover in the 2050 horizon, a climate-related harsher fire regime (higher amounts of area burnt) accelerated a shift towards landscapes progressively dominated by oaks and shrublands, thus precluding general forest maturation. Fire-sensitive pine species contributed to net forest cover loss in the worst scenarios. An active fire suppression strategy partially compensated the effects of a climate-related harsher fire regime on pine forest loss and rejuvenation, whereas variability in climate projections weakly affected spatial fire allocation and afforestation. Our results highlight the need to explicitly incorporate fire suppression strategies in forest landscape composition forecasts in the Mediterranean. At mid-term, large-scale afforestation, post-fire forest rejuvenation and landscape composition changes may alter forest ecosystem functioning and potentially interact with fire suppression planning. © 2016, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.

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EU's Conservation Efforts Need More Strategic Investment to Meet Continental Commitments

Hermoso V., Clavero M., Villero D., Brotons L. (2016) EU's Conservation Efforts Need More Strategic Investment to Meet Continental Commitments. Conservation Letters. : 0-0.
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Doi: 10.1111/conl.12248

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The European Union (EU) has made significant conservation efforts in the last two decades, guided by the Birds and Habitats Directives, currently under evaluation. Despite these efforts a large proportion of priority species are still in unfavorable condition and continue declining. For this reason, a thoughtful review of the implementation of conservation efforts in Europe is needed to identify potential causes behind this poor effectiveness. We compiled information on the distribution of all conservation funds under the LIFE-Nature, the main financial tool for conservation in Europe. We found that LIFE-Nature has not adequately covered continental conservation needs. The majority of funds have been directed toward nonthreatened species or regions of low conservation priority. Given the limited resources available, two key aspects are in urgent need for revision and improvement. First, the distribution of funds should be guided by continental and global conservation needs and planned at the EU scale. Second, new mechanisms are required to set conservation priorities in a dynamic fashion, rather than relying on fixed lists (i.e., the Directives' Annexes) that may rapidly become outdated. These improvements would require new mechanisms to set priorities and redistribution of conservation efforts, supported by adequate policy and a more effective top-down control on investment. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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Biodiversity loss for rural abandonment in LTER Montseny measured by bird surveys [La pérdida de biodiversidad por abandono rural en el LTER Montseny cuantificada a partir del monitoreo de aves]

Herrando, S., Anton, M., Brotons, Ll., Guinart, D. (2016) Biodiversity loss for rural abandonment in LTER Montseny measured by bird surveys [La pérdida de biodiversidad por abandono rural en el LTER Montseny cuantificada a partir del monitoreo de aves]. Ecosistemas. 25: 58-64.
Link
Doi: 10.7818/ECOS.2016.25-1.07

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Matches and mismatches between national and EU-wide priorities: Examining the Natura 2000 network in vertebrate species conservation

Kukkala A.S., Arponen A., Maiorano L., Moilanen A., Thuiller W., Toivonen T., Zupan L., Brotons L., Cabeza M. (2016) Matches and mismatches between national and EU-wide priorities: Examining the Natura 2000 network in vertebrate species conservation. Biological Conservation. 198: 193-201.
Link
Doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2016.04.016

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The Natura 2000 (N2k) is a network of protected areas, established to implement the Birds and the Habitats Directives of the European Union (EU) with the goal of conservation irrespective of national boundaries. We provide the first assessment of the whole terrestrial N2k using spatial prioritizations, and high-resolution vertebrate species distribution data. First, we quantified species' representation in the network, and compared it against outcomes of hypothetical optimal planning scenarios at the EU, member state, and biogeographical levels. Second, we examined the spatial configuration of N2k sites and same-sized hypothetical top priority sites based on the three planning scenarios. We found that N2k covered all vertebrate directive species, and the coverage was significantly better than with a random allocation of sites. We observed substantial differences in representation between taxa, followed by the fact that N2k succeeded better in covering threatened and directive species than non-directive species. The current species representation in N2k was closer to optimal allocations done at member states' or biogeographical levels than the EU-wide allocation. Furthermore, the N2k sites overlapped more with the EU-wide allocation and they were more evenly distributed across the EU compared to sites in all hypothetical optimal allocations. Finally, we found that the biogeographical scenario covered well the ranges of habitats directive species, following the biogeographical approach taken by the EU in the Habitats Directive. Our results show that despite N2k being moderately successful, there is substantial effectiveness to be gained from member state collaboration via potential expansions or complementary conservation policies. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd.

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Synergies Between Forest Biomass Extraction for Bioenergy and Fire Suppression in Mediterranean Ecosystems: Insights from a Storyline-and-Simulation Approach

Regos A., Aquilué N., López I., Codina M., Retana J., Brotons L. (2016) Synergies Between Forest Biomass Extraction for Bioenergy and Fire Suppression in Mediterranean Ecosystems: Insights from a Storyline-and-Simulation Approach. Ecosystems. 19: 786-802.
Link
Doi: 10.1007/s10021-016-9968-z

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Increases in fire impacts over many regions of the world have led to large-scale investments in fire-suppression efforts. There is increasing recognition that biomass extraction for energy purposes may become an important forest-management practice in fire-prone ecosystems. However, at present, very few studies have explicitly assessed biomass extraction as a fuel treatment at landscape scale. Here, we use a landscape fire-succession model in Catalonia (NE Spain) to quantitatively evaluate the potential effects of a biomass extraction-based strategy on essential fire-regime attributes after considering different levels of fire suppression, biomass extraction intensity, and spatial allocation of such efforts. Our simulations indicated that the effectiveness (area suppressed in relation to expected area to burn) at suppressing wildfires was determined by extraction intensity, spatial allocation of the extraction effort, and the fire-suppression levels involved. Indeed, the highest suppressed-area values were found with lower harvesting intensities, especially under high fire-suppression capabilities and strategies focused on bioenergy goals (figures close to 0.7). However, the leverage (area suppressed in relation to managed area) was higher when the treatments were based on the fire-prevention strategy and focused on high-fire-risk areas (up to 0.45) than with treatment designed for energy reasons (lower than 0.15). We conclude that biomass extraction for energy purposes has the potential to induce changes in fire regimes and can therefore be considered a cost-effective landscape-level fuel-reduction treatment. However, our results suggest that large-scale biomass extraction may be needed if significant changes in fire regimes are to be expected. © 2016, Springer Science+Business Media New York.

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Impacts of global change on species distributions: Obstacles and solutions to integrate climate and land use

Sirami, C., Caplat, P., Popy, S., Clamens, A., Arlettaz, R., Jiguet, F., Brotons, L., Martin, J.-L. (2016) Impacts of global change on species distributions: Obstacles and solutions to integrate climate and land use. Global Ecology and Biogeography. : 0-0.
Link
Doi: 10.1111/geb.12555

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