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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle

Can Topographic Variation in Climate Buffer against Climate Change-Induced Population Declines in Northern Forest Birds?

1
Finnish Environment Institute, Biodiversity Centre, Latokartanonkaari 11, FI-00790 Helsinki, Finland
2
Finnish Meteorological Institute, FI-00101 Helsinki, Finland
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Department of Geosciences and Geography, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 64, FI-00014 Helsinki, Finland
4
Metsähallitus, National Parks Finland, P.O. Box 81, FI-90101 Oulu, Finland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Diversity 2020, 12(2), 56; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12020056
Received: 19 December 2019 / Revised: 28 January 2020 / Accepted: 31 January 2020 / Published: 1 February 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Boreal Bird Ecology, Management and Conservation)
Increased attention is being paid to the ecological drivers and conservation measures which could mitigate climate change-induced pressures for species survival, potentially helping populations to remain in their present-day locations longer. One important buffering mechanism against climate change may be provided by the heterogeneity in topography and consequent local climate conditions. However, the buffering capacity of this topoclimate has so far been insufficiently studied based on empirical survey data across multiple sites and species. Here, we studied whether the fine-grained air temperature variation of protected areas (PAs) affects the population changes of declining northern forest bird species. Importantly to our study, in PAs harmful land use, such as logging, is not allowed, enabling the detection of the effects of temperature buffering, even at relatively moderate levels of topographic variation. Our survey data from 129 PAs located in the boreal zone in Finland show that the density of northern forest species was higher in topographically heterogeneous PAs than in topographically more homogeneous PAs. Moreover, local temperature variation had a significant effect on the density change of northern forest birds from 1981–1999 to 2000–2017, indicating that change in bird density was generally smaller in PAs with higher topographic variation. Thus, we found a clear buffering effect stemming from the local temperature variation of PAs in the population trends of northern forest birds. View Full-Text
Keywords: boreal; buffering; climate change; forest bird; macroclimate; population decline; protected areas; topographic heterogeneity boreal; buffering; climate change; forest bird; macroclimate; population decline; protected areas; topographic heterogeneity
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Virkkala, R.; Aalto, J.; Heikkinen, R.K.; Rajasärkkä, A.; Kuusela, S.; Leikola, N.; Luoto, M. Can Topographic Variation in Climate Buffer against Climate Change-Induced Population Declines in Northern Forest Birds? Diversity 2020, 12, 56.

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