Ameztegui, A., Gil-Tena, A., Faus, J., Piqué, M., Brotons, L., Camprodon, J. (2018) Bird community response in mountain pine forests of the Pyrenees managed under a shelterwood system. Forest Ecology and Management. 407: 95-105.LinkDoi: 10.1016/j.foreco.2017.09.002
Duane, A., Brotons, L. (2018) Synoptic weather conditions and changing fire regimes in a Mediterranean environment. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology. 253-254: 190-202.LinkDoi: 10.1016/j.agrformet.2018.02.014
Hass A.L., Kormann U.G., Tscharntke T., Clough Y., Baillod A.B., Sirami C., Fahrig L., Martin J.-L., Baudry J., Bertrand C., Bosch J., Brotons L., Bure F., Georges R., Giralt D., Marcos-García M.Á., Ricarte A., Siriwardena G., Batáry P. (2018) Landscape configurational heterogeneity by small-scale agriculture, not crop diversity, maintains pollinators and plant reproduction in western Europe. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 285: 0-0.LinkDoi: 10.1098/rspb.2017.2242
Agricultural intensification is one of the main causes for the current biodiversity crisis. While reversing habitat loss on agricultural land is challenging, increasing the farmland configurational heterogeneity (higher field border density) and farmland compositional heterogeneity (higher crop diversity) has been proposed to counteract some habitat loss. Here, we tested whether increased farmland configurational and compositional heterogeneity promote wild pollinators and plant reproduction in 229 landscapes located in four major western European agricultural regions. High-field border density consistently increased wild bee abundance and seed set of radish (Raphanus sativus), probably through enhanced connectivity. In particular, we demonstrate the importance of crop-crop borders for pollinator movement as an additional experiment showed higher transfer of a pollen analogue along crop-crop borders than across fields or along semi-natural crop borders. By contrast, high crop diversity reduced bee abundance, probably due to an increase of crop types with particularly intensive management. This highlights the importance of crop identity when higher crop diversity is promoted. Our results show that small-scale agricultural systems can boost pollinators and plant reproduction. Agri-environmental policies should therefore aim to halt and reverse the current trend of increasing field sizes and to reduce the amount of crop types with particularly intensive management. © 2018 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.
Hermoso V., Morán-Ordóñez A., Brotons L. (2018) Assessing the role of Natura 2000 at maintaining dynamic landscapes in Europe over the last two decades: implications for conservation. Landscape Ecology. 33: 1447-1460.LinkDoi: 10.1007/s10980-018-0683-3
Context: The Natura 2000 aims to promote the persistence of biodiversity and traditional uses. European landscapes have, however, undergone large transformations in the past decades, mainly associated with the abandonment of less productive lands concentration of intensive agriculture. These changes could pose management challenges and new opportunities to the achievement of the network´s goals. Objective: Evaluate changes in land cover within Natura 2000 in the last two decades. Methods: We use different Corine Land Cover datasets to construct transition matrices of land uses for measuring changes for each Natura 2000 site. We also explore the role of different drivers in observed changes and assess the impacts of these changes in the structure of landscape. Results: Landscape has been highly dynamic within Natura 2000 in the last two decades with more than 20% undergoing land cover changes. The most systematic transitions involved both, succession processes towards naturalisation in older and more abrupt protected areas (PAs) and anthropization in less steep and more recently designated PAs. Changes across land cover categories had also significant effects on the landscape configuration towards a higher homogenisation. Conclusions: Two different strategies would be needed to enhance the role of Natura 2000, (i) tighter control to ensure anthropization, mainly intensive agriculture, does not compromise conservation goals within PAs and (ii) tackle more effectively the ecological and socio-economic effects of abandonment in less productive areas to halt loss of key habitats. On the other hand, changes in composition and structure of landscape open new conservation opportunities derived from enhanced connectivity. © 2018, Springer Nature B.V.
Hermoso V., Villero D., Clavero M., Brotons L. (2018) Spatial prioritisation of EU's LIFE-Nature programme to strengthen the conservation impact of Natura 2000. Journal of Applied Ecology. 55: 1575-1582.LinkDoi: 10.1111/1365-2664.13116
Despite advances in conservation efforts within Europe during recent decades, assessments highlight a need for adequate financing mechanisms to support the Natura 2000 network, the centrepiece of the EU's Biodiversity Strategy. Besides the need for greater investment (currently only covering a fifth of the estimated cost of the network), better planning for this investment could help better achieve conservation goals. We demonstrate a method that could be used to identify priority Natura 2000 sites, and species therein, that could guide investment in the future. We first used the lists of key species associated with each Natura 2000 site to map the distribution of all priority species covered by the Birds and Habitats Directives. We then used Marxan software to prioritise allocation of conservation funds among all Natura 2000 sites, while trying to mimic the observed conservation effort implemented under the LIFE programme, the main financial tool of the EU's Biodiversity Strategy, in the period 1992–2013. Some Natura 2000 sites show exceptional value, holding species that either do not, or only very rarely, occur elsewhere in the network. These priority sites were concentrated mainly on islands and in the south western, eastern and northern extremes of Europe's mainland, thus reflecting patterns in species richness and endemism. We found a poor relationship between the priorities identified here and the way funds had been distributed in previous LIFE-Nature programmes. Policy implications. We propose that prioritisation exercises like the one shown here could be used to inform a top-down EU regulation mechanism by providing lists of site and species priorities that better reflect European conservation needs. These recommendations, performed at continental scale, could then help guide LIFE project proposals from the Member States and fill the current gap in the coverage of priority species. This top-down control mechanism could be integrated in the current system of budget distribution, rather than replacing it completely, to enhance the efficiency of conservation investment in the EU and achievement of continental goals. © 2018 The Authors. Journal of Applied Ecology © 2018 British Ecological Society
Morán-Ordóñez A., Canessa S., Bota G., Brotons L., Herrando S., Hermoso V. (2018) Efficiency of species survey networks can be improved by integrating different monitoring approaches in a spatial prioritization design. Conservation Letters. 11: 0-0.LinkDoi: 10.1111/conl.12591
Public participation to monitoring programs is increasingly advocated to overcome scarcity of resources and deliver important information for policy-making. Here, we illustrate the design of optimal monitoring networks for bird species of conservation concern in Catalonia (NE Spain), under different scenarios of combined governmental and citizen-science monitoring approaches. In our case study, current government efforts, limited to protected areas, were insufficient to cover the whole spectrum of target species and species-threat levels, reinforcing the assumption that citizen-science data can greatly assist in achieving monitoring targets. However, simply carrying out both government and citizen-science monitoring ad hoc led to inefficiency and duplication of efforts: some species were represented in excess of targets while several features were undersampled. Policy-making should concentrate on providing an adequate platform for coordination of government and public-participatory monitoring to minimize duplicated efforts, overcome the biases of each monitoring program and obtain the best from both. © 2018 The Authors. Conservation Letters published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Otsu K., Pla M., Vayreda J., Brotons L. (2018) Calibrating the severity of forest defoliation by pine processionary moth with landsat and UAV imagery. Sensors (Switzerland). 18: 0-0.LinkDoi: 10.3390/s18103278
The pine processionary moth (Thaumetopoea pityocampa Dennis and Schiff.), one of the major defoliating insects in Mediterranean forests, has become an increasing threat to the forest health of the region over the past two decades. After a recent outbreak of T. pityocampa in Catalonia, Spain, we attempted to estimate the damage severity by capturing the maximum defoliation period over winter between pre-outbreak and post-outbreak images. The difference in vegetation index (dVI) derived from Landsat 8 was used as the change detection indicator and was further calibrated with Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) imagery. Regression models between predicted dVIs and observed defoliation degrees by UAV were compared among five selected dVIs for the coefficient of determination. Our results found the highest R-squared value (0.815) using Moisture Stress Index (MSI), with an overall accuracy of 72%, as a promising approach for estimating the severity of defoliation in affected areas where ground-truth data is limited. We concluded with the high potential of using UAVs as an alternative method to obtain ground-truth data for cost-effectively monitoring forest health. In future studies, combining UAV images with satellite data may be considered to validate model predictions of the forest condition for developing ecosystem service tools. © 2018 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
Regos A., Hermoso V., D'Amen M., Guisan A., Brotons L. (2018) Trade-offs and synergies between bird conservation and wildfire suppression in the face of global change. Journal of Applied Ecology. 55: 2181-2192.LinkDoi: 10.1111/1365-2664.13182
The combined effects of climate change and other factors, such as land-use change or fire disturbance, pose daunting challenges for biodiversity conservation world-wide. We predicted the future effectiveness of the Natura 2000 (N2000), the current network of protected areas (PA) in Europe, at maintaining and representing suitable environmental conditions for a set of 79 bird species between 2000 and 2050 in a fire-prone area, strongly affected by land abandonment processes in North East Spain. We then compared PA performance with a set of alternative priority areas for conservation, which consider fire-vegetation dynamics, selected by using a conservation planning tool (Marxan). Fire-vegetation dynamics were modelled using a process-based model (Medfire Model) under alternative fire management and climate change scenarios. Bird communities were predicted using the spatially explicit species assemblage modelling framework (SESAM) and species distribution models that hierarchically integrate climate change and wildfire-vegetation dynamics. The amount of suitable environmental conditions within the N2000 network was predicted to fall by around 15%, on average, over the next decades in relation to the initial conditions but could be partially modulated by fire management policies in future. The efficiency of the current PA system was predicted to decrease from 17.4% to 15% between 2000 and 2050. However, a more efficient PA system could be achieved with a conservation planning approach that explicitly considers fire-vegetation dynamics and their management. Synthesis and applications. Our findings show: (a) how the current Natura 2000 could still hold an important bird conservation value by 2050; (b) how the relocation of some protected areas should be considered in order to substantially increase bird conservation effectiveness; and (c) how the integration of fire-vegetation dynamics, fire management policies and their objectives within conservation planning provide “win–win” solutions for bird conservation and fire prevention in fire-prone abandoned landscapes. © 2018 The Authors. Journal of Applied Ecology © 2018 British Ecological Society
Regos A., Imbeau L., Desrochers M., Leduc A., Robert M., Jobin B., Brotons L., Drapeau P. (2018) Hindcasting the impacts of land-use changes on bird communities with species distribution models of Bird Atlas data. Ecological Applications. 28: 1867-1883.LinkDoi: 10.1002/eap.1784
Habitat loss and degradation induced by human development are among the major threats to biodiversity worldwide. In this study, we tested our ability to predict the response of bird communities (128 species) to land-use changes in southern Quebec (~483,100 km2) over the last 30 yr (between 1984–1989 and 2010–2014) by using species distribution models (299,302 occurrences in 30,408 locations) from a hindcasting perspective. Results were grouped by functional guilds to infer potential impacts on ecosystem services, and to relate model transferability (i.e., ability of our models to be generalized to other times and scales) to specific functional and life-history traits. Overall, our models were able to accurately predict, both in space and time, habitat suitability for 69% of species, especially for granivorous, nonmigrant, tree-nesting species, and species that are tied to agricultural areas under intensive use. These findings indicate that model transferability depends upon specific functional and life-history traits, providing further evidence that species’ ecologies affect the ability of models to accurately predict bird distributions. Declining bird species were mostly short-distance migrants that were associated with open habitats (agricultural and nonproductive forest) with aerial insectivorous or granivorous diets, which may be related to agricultural intensification and land abandonment. Land-use changes were positive for some forest bird species that were mainly associated with mixed and deciduous forests, generalist diets and tree-nesting strategies. Yet cavity-nesting birds have suffered substantial reductions in their distributions, suggesting that cumulative effects of intensive logging and wildfires on mature forests pose a threat for forest-specialist species. Habitat suitability changes predicted by our coarse-scale species distribution models partially agreed with the long-term trends reported by the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Our findings confirm land-use change as a key driving force for shaping bird communities in southern Quebec, together with the need to explicitly incorporate it into global change scenarios that better inform decision-makers on conservation and management. © 2018 by the Ecological Society of America
Roces-Díaz J.V., Vayreda J., Banqué-Casanovas M., Cusó M., Anton M., Bonet J.A., Brotons L., De Cáceres M., Herrando S., Martínez de Aragón J., de-Miguel S., Martínez-Vilalta J. (2018) Assessing the distribution of forest ecosystem services in a highly populated Mediterranean region. Ecological Indicators. 93: 986-997.LinkDoi: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2018.05.076
Forest ecosystems provide a wide range of goods and services to society and host high levels of biodiversity. Nevertheless, forest ecosystem services (ES) are often quantified and assessed using simplified methodologies (e.g., proxy methods based exclusively on Land Use Land Cover maps) that introduce substantial uncertainty in the analysis by ignoring, for instance, the species composition and spatial configuration of the ecosystems studied. In this work we defined and calculated a set of 12 indicators of several ES for the forests of the highly populated region of Catalonia (North-eastern Iberian Peninsula). The indicators combined different sources of information such as forest surveys, ecological model predictions and official statistics, but also included additional land cover information. All ES indicators were aggregated at the municipality level to compare their values and distribution patterns. We assessed spatial trade-offs and synergies among ES, as well as their relationships with a set of socioeconomic, climatic and biodiversity variables using correlation analyses and mixed-effects models. The results suggest a clustering of provisioning and regulating ES in mountainous zones towards the North of the study area. These two types of services showed a high degree of spatial similarity and presented high positive correlations. In contrast, cultural ES showed a more scattered pattern, which included lower elevation areas in the South of the study region. Climatic conditions were the main determinants of the spatial variability in the supply of the different ES, with most indicators being positively associated with precipitation and negatively associated with temperature. In addition, biodiversity (particularly woody species richness) showed positive relations with most of these ES, while socioeconomic variables (such as population density and the percentage employment in agriculture) showed negative associations with most of them. The combination of information from different data sources (including primary data) allowed for a detailed analysis of forest ES, likely removing some of the problems derived from approaches based only on proxy methods. In addition, the use of municipalities as study unit makes results directly relevant to management and planning strategies operating at this scale (e.g., forest management and planning). © 2018 Elsevier Ltd
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