Highlights from the latest issue
July 2018 | Vol. 160, issue 3
The current issue of IBIS contains 2 Review papers, 10 full papers, five short communications and two Viewpoint articles.
Here are just four of the many highlights in this issue.
Climate change and bird populations
In this issue we have two major studies examining the effect of climate change on bird populations. The first of these highlights the vulnerability of high altitude species in ‘A review and meta-analysis of effects of climate change on Holarctic mountain and upland bird populations’ while the second article reports on some unexpected future predictions on the ‘Effects of environmental conditions on reproductive effort and nest success of Arctic‐breeding shorebirds’.
- A review and meta‐analysis of the effects of climate change on Holarctic mountain and upland bird populations
Davide Scridel, Mattia Brambilla, Kathy Martin, Aleksi Lehikoinen, Aaron Lemma Anderle Matteo, Susanne Jähnig, Enrico Caprio, Giuseppe Bogliani, Paolo Pedrini, Antonio Rolando, Raphaël Arlettaz and Dan Chamberlain
Mountain regions are globally important for biodiversity but are faced with multiple human-induced threats, including climate change. Davide Scridel from the Museo delle Scienze di Trento, Italy and colleagues from Italy, Finland and Switzerland extensively reviewed evidence for impacts of climate change on Holarctic mountain bird populations. They found that mountain birds respond to both climate (extreme weather events, temperature, rainfall and snow) and land use change but report that underlying mechanisms or the synergistic effects of climate and land-use are not well understood. Their meta-analysis of future distribution shifts suggests that birds whose breeding distributions are largely restricted to mountains are likely to be impacted to a greater extent than other species elsewhere. From this Scridel et al. encourage ornithologists to develop tools to assess the status of mountain birds, and recommend that policy-makers influence agri-environment and forestry practices, and leisure activities affecting mountain birds.
- Effects of environmental conditions on reproductive effort and nest success of Arctic‐breeding shorebirds
Emily L. Weiser, Stephen C. Brown, Richard B. Lanctot, H. River Gates, Kenneth F. Abraham, Rebecca L. Bentzen, Joël Bêty, Megan L. Boldenow, Rodney W. Brook, Tyrone F. Donnelly, Willow B. English, Scott A. Flemming, Samantha E. Franks, H. Grant Gilchrist, Marie‐Andrée Giroux, Andrew Johnson, Steve Kendall, Lisa V. Kennedy, Laura Koloski, Eunbi Kwon, Jean‐François Lamarre, David B. Lank, Christopher J. Latty, Nicolas Lecomte, Joseph R. Liebezeit, Laura McKinnon, Erica Nol, Johanna Perz, Jennie Rausch, Martin Robards, Sarah T. Saalfeld, Nathan R. Senner, Paul A. Smith, Mikhail Soloviev, Diana Solovyeva, David H. Ward, Paul F. Woodard and Brett K. Sandercock
The Arctic is experiencing rapidly warming conditions, increasing predator abundance, and diminishing population cycles of keystone species such as lemmings. However, it is still not known how many Arctic animals will respond to a changing climate with these altered trophic interactions. Emily Weiser from Kansas State University, USA and 37 other researchers from across USA, Canada, Russia and UK impressively documented clutch size, incubation duration and nest survival of 17 taxa of Arctic‐breeding shorebirds at 16 field sites over 7 years. They predicted that physiological benefits of higher temperatures and earlier snowmelt would increase reproductive effort and nest survival, and expected increasing predator abundance and decreasing abundance of alternative prey to have a negative effect on reproduction. Although Weiser et al. observed a wide range of conditions during their study, they found no effects of these covariates on reproductive traits in 12 of 17 taxa. Surprisingly, their findings suggest that in the short‐term at least, climate warming may have neutral or positive effects on the nesting cycle of a high proportion of Arctic‐breeding shorebirds.
- Raising the bar for the next generation of biological atlases: using existing data to inform the design and implementation of atlas monitoring
Jennifer D. Mccabe, Nicholas M. Anich, Ryan S. Brady and Benjamin Zuckerberg
Since the 1950s biological atlases have successfully mapped the regional occurrence of many plant and animal species. Jennifer Mccabe from the Department of Forestry and Wildlife, University of Wisconsin‐Madison, USA and co-authors have developed a framework for incorporating monitoring data, hierarchical modelling and sampling simulations to enhance occurrence and breeding status atlas-maps with secondary sampling of species abundances. Here, Mccabe et al. used information on three bird species with varying abundance and detectability to evaluate sampling scenarios for the 2nd Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas. Their approach provided a state-wide sampling design that provided precise and unbiased abundance estimates for species, ensuring suitable spatial coverage across different habitats and reduced spending on total survey costs. It is clear that this approach could greatly benefit next-generation atlases that wish to add systematic, multi‐species sampling for estimating density and abundance across broad geographical regions.
- Top‐down limitation of mesopredators by avian top predators: a call for research on cascading effects at the community and ecosystem scale
Julien Terraube and Vincent Bretagnolle
Trophic cascade theory predicts that top predators structure terrestrial ecosystems by regulating both carnivores and herbivores and the loss of these top predators can induce the expansion of mesopredators. In this Viewpoint article Julien Terraube and Vincent Bretagnolle from the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) France examine the role of avian top predators on community and ecosystem function. Drawing on examples from Europe on the recolonisation of raptors such as White-tailed Eagle and Eurasian Eagle-Owl, the authors review how ecological networks respond to changes in predator community composition, particularly in anthropogenic systems undergoing rapid environmental changes. Terraube and Bretagnolle strongly advocate new experimental studies and the collection of long‐term data to further determine the complex role of avian top predators in food webs.