Monitoring spatial and temporal dynamics of bird communities in Mediterranean landscapes affected by large wildfires

Authors: Elena L. ZOZAYA, Lluís BROTONS, Sergi HERRANDO, Pere PONS, Josep ROST and Miguel CLAVERO

E-mail: elzozaya@gmail.com

Published: Volume 57(Especia, December 2010. Pages 33-50.

Language: English

Keywords: dispersion, landscape context, open-habitat species, pre-fire vegetation, recently burnt areas and species colonisation

Summary:

We presented a bird-monitoring database in Mediterranean landscapes (Catalonia, NE Spain) affected by wildfires and we evaluated: 1) the spatial and temporal variability in the bird community composition and 2) the influence of pre-fire habitat configuration in the composition of bird communities. The DINDIS database results fromthemonitoring of bird communities occupying all areas affected by large wildfires in Catalonia since 2000. We used bird surveys conducted from 2006 to 2009 and performed a principal components analysis to describe two main gradients of variation in the composition of bird communities, which were used as descriptors of bird communities in subsequent analyses. We then analysed the relationships of these community descriptors with bioclimatic regions within Catalonia, time since fire and pre-fire vegetation (forest or shrubland). We have conducted 1,918 bird surveys in 567 transects distributed in 56 burnt areas. Eight out of the twenty most common detected species have an unfavourable conservation status, most of them being associated to open-habitats. Both bird communities’ descriptors had a strong regional component and were related to pre-fire vegetation, and to a lesser extent to the time since fire.We came to the conclusion that the responses of bird communities to wildfires are heterogeneous, complex and context dependent. Large-scale monitoring datasets, such as DINDIS, might allow identifying factors acting at different spatial and temporal scales that affect the dynamics of species and communities, giving additional information on the causes under general trends observed using other monitoring systems.

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