Positive association between forest management, environmental change, and forest bird abundance
Schulze, Ernst D ; Craven, Dylan ; Durso, Andrew M ; Reif, Jiri ; Guderle, Marcus ; Kroiher, Franz ; Hennig, Petra ; Weiserbs, Anne et al.
Citable Link (URL):http://resolver.sub.uni-goettingen.de/purl?gs-1/15805
Abstract Background The global decrease in wildlife populations, especially birds, is mainly due to land use change and increasing intensity of land use (Parmesan and Yohe 2003). However, impacts of management tools to mitigate biodiversity loss at regional and global scales are less apparent in forest regions that have a constant forest area, and which did not suffer from habitat degradation, and where forests are sustainably managed, such as in Central Europe or the northeastern USA. A biodiversity assessment for Germany suggested, for example, that bird populations were constant (Bundesamt für Naturschutz 2015). Results This study shows that changes in the environment and in forest management over the past 45 years have had a significant, positive effect on the abundance of non-migratory forest bird species in Central Europe. Economy (timber prices and GDP), forest management (timber harvest and mixed forest area), and environmental factors (atmospheric CO2 concentration and nitrogen deposition) were investigated together with changes in abundances of migratory and non-migratory forest birds using partial least squares path modeling. Climate change, resulting in longer seasons and milder winters, and forest management, promoting tree diversity, were significantly positively related to the abundance of non-migratory forest birds and explained 92% of the variation in their abundance in Europe. Regionally-migrating forest birds had stable populations with large variation, while birds migrating across continents declined in recent decades, suggesting significant, contrasting changes in bird populations in Europe. In northeastern North America we also found evidence that non-migratory forests have experienced long-term increases in abundance, and this increase was related to management. The increase of populations of non-migratory forest birds in Europe and North America is associated with an increase in structural diversity and disturbances at the landscape level. Conclusions Our results suggest that reports about bird decline in forests should separate between migratory and non-migratory bird species. Efforts to mitigate the general decline in bird abundance should focus on land-use systems other than forests and support sustainable forest management independent of economic conditions.