A double threat to tropical birds

Investigating the combined effects of climate change and habitat conversion on the survival of Neotropical birds.

GBIF-mediated data resources used : 6,286,920 species occurrences

Volcano Hummingbird (Selasphorus flammula) by Greg Lasley via iNaturalist. Photo licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.

Climate change is not the only threat to species, but when amplified by anthropogenic land-use changes, a global biodiversity crisis looms. Some species are able to thrive in human-dominated landscapes, but the diversity in such areas is very different from natural areas. In this study, researchers used census data and GBIF-mediated occurrences of more than 300 species of Neotropical birds combined with climate data to assess relationships between species’ niches, origins and tolerance of human-dominated habitats. They find precipitation to be the strongest predictor, in that that species originating in drier regions are more likely to occupy agriculture than forest.  Interestingly, these species appear to be more resilient to changes in climate and land-use than forest-occupying species. Apparently favouring similar species, climate change and habitat conversion may homogenize global biodiversity even faster and more severely than previously anticipated. 

Frishkoff LO, Karp DS, Flanders JR, Zook J, Hadly EA, Daily GC and M’Gonigle LK (2016) Climate change and habitat conversion favour the same species. Ecology Letters. Wiley-Blackwell 19(9): 1081–1090. Available at doi:10.1111/ele.12645.