Thomas K. GOTTSCHALK, Tobias E. REINERS
University of Applied Forest Sciences, Schadenweilerhof, 72108, Rottenburg, Germany & Conservation Genetics Group, Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum Frankfurt, Clamecystrasse 12, 63571, Gelnhausen, Germany
We forecasted the effects of climate change and forest conversion options on common forest bird species by employing nation-wide high-resolution models. The results give details on how, where, and for which species forest conversion can mitigate climate change effects.
To mitigate effects of climate change on forests, alterations are required to convert forests into less vulnerable forest types. Coniferous forest that has been cultivated extensively outside its natural range has been identified as being more vulnerable to climate change effects than deciduous forest. The aim is to evaluate the effect of climate change mitigation measures on biodiversity due to forest conversion. We generated five forest scenarios for Germany in which we systematically replaced coniferous with deciduous forest types. We forecasted the effects of climate change and forest conversion options on 25 forest bird species by employing high-resolution models to predict their current and future ranges and population size. Our simulations and modeling approach clearly predicted that climate change has a stronger impact on populations compared to distribution areas of common forest bird species. Forest conversion was predicted to amplify (15 species) and to weaken (10 species) the predicted gains and losses of species’ population size due to climate change. Using the total bird population size to evaluate the mitigation effect of the different forest scenarios, forest conversion below an elevation of 500 m a.s.l. was predicted to mitigate climate change effects by 0.3 million breeding pairs (−10 %). The relatively weak mitigation effect was mainly due to few generalist species that inhabit coniferous forests in large abundances and did not profit from a conversion to deciduous forests. The results of the study give details on how, where, and for which species forest conversion can mitigate the anticipated effects of climate change.
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