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Ecological management of a Mediterranean mountainous reserve (Pindos National Park, Greece) using the bird community as an indicator


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We used the community of passerines and woodpeckers as a target group for the conservation management of Pindos National Park (NW Greece). We conducted bird point counts twice during springtime in 72 plots that represented the main vegetation types (16 sites). We recorded 56 species (14 of conservation concern-SPEC). The montane grasslands were the most important habitats in terms of species of conservation concern, whereas the agricultural mosaics were the most species-rich habitats. The mixed pine-beech woods were significantly richer than the pinewoods, whereas pinewoods and broad-leaved woods did not differ significantly between them. The bird diversity was significantly correlated with the number of tree layers, the vertical structural complexity and the maximum height of trees. The presence of grassland, forest and agricultural habitat type, as well as the altitude and the vegetation structural complexity were the main environmental parameters determining species composition (Canonical Correspondence Analysis). We identified a set of 17 typical species (IndVal analysis) to be used in the monitoring scheme of the Park, which were characteristic of the main bird habitat types distinguished by Ward's hierarchical clustering. Conservation measures should involve maintenance of the traditional agricultural practices, montane grasslands, old growth woods, as well as the vertical vegetation complexity and high trees in forest stands.
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Journal for Nature Conservation 17 (2009) 47—59
Ecological management of a Mediterranean
mountainous reserve (Pindos National Park,
Greece) using the bird community as an indicator
Vassiliki Kati
, Panayotis Dimopoulos
, Haritakis Papaioannou
Kostas Poirazidis
Department of Environmental and Natural Resources Management, University of Ioannina,
Seferi 2, 30100 Agrinio, Greece
Center of Biological and Cultural Diversity, 44004 Papingo, Greece
Department of Forestry, Environment and Natural Resources,
Democritus University of Thrace, 68200 Orestiada, Greece
Received 23 April 2008; accepted 5 December 2008
Ecological structure;
Forest management;
NATURA 2000;
Protected area
We used the community of passerines and woodpeckers as a target group for the
conservation management of Pindos National Park (NW Greece). We conducted
bird point counts twice during springtime in 72 plots that represented the
main vegetation types (16 sites). We recorded 56 species (14 of conservation
concern-SPEC). The montane grasslands were the most important habitats in
terms of species of conservation concern, whereas the agricultural mosaics were the
most species-rich habitats. The mixed pine-beech woods were significantly
richer than the pinewoods, whereas pinewoods and broad-leaved woods did not
differ significantly between them. The bird diversity was significantly correlated
with the number of tree layers, the vertical structural complexity and the maximum
height of trees. The presence of grassland, forest and agricultural habitat type, as
well as the altitude and the vegetation structural complexity were the main
environmental parameters determining species composition (Canonical Correspon-
dence Analysis). We identified a set of 17 typical species (IndVal analysis) to be used
in the monitoring scheme of the Park, which were characteristic of the main bird
habitat types distinguished by Ward’s hierarchical clustering. Conservation measures
should involve maintenance of the traditional agricultural practices, montane
1617-1381/$ - see front matter &2008 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.
Corresponding author. Tel.: +30 26510 70993; fax: +30 2641033716.
E-mail addresses:, (V. Kati).
grasslands, old growth woods, as well as the vertical vegetation complexity and high
trees in forest stands.
&2008 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.
Birds exhibit a diverse range of ecological
functions, and benefit humans by providing a wide
range of ecosystem services (Sekercioglu, 2006).
However, birds also constitute one of the most
vulnerable groups of organisms, with many species
currently undergoing significant global population
declines, leading to detrimental consequences
for total biodiversity and ecosystem function
(Sekercioglu et al., 2004).
Because birds are, especially in Europe, among
the best-studied organisms, they are often used to
evaluate the impact of human activities (BirdLife
International, 2004;Heath et al., 2000). On
account of their ubiquitousness, terrestrial passer-
ine communities in particular have been used as
indicators of environmental change (Bani et al.,
2005;Gregory et al., 2004), or as ecological
substitutes for other, more difficult to quantify
groups of organisms (Howard et al., 1998;Kati
et al., 2004a;Lombard, 1995;Prendergast et al.,
1993). Although their use as indicator taxa has been
sometimes criticised for its potentially low extra-
polative value to other groups of organisms
(Lindenmayer et al., 2006;Simberloff, 1998), small
terrestrial birds are considered as an important
component of biodiversity and have been inte-
grated into studies evaluating its conservation
(Dobson et al., 1997;Kati et al., 2004b;Lawton
et al., 1998;Thiollay, 2002;Vessby et al., 2002).
Thus, small terrestrial birds have often been used
to assess and guide ongoing forest management
practices (e.g. Donald et al., 1998;Gil-Tena et al.,
2007;Johnson & Freedman, 2002;King & DeGraaf,
2000;Laiolo et al., 2003;Lance & Phinney, 2001;
Muller et al., 2007;Sekercioglu, 2002) or current
agricultural practices (e.g. Chamberlain et al.,
2000;Donald et al., 2001;Pain & Pienkowski,
1997). In this applied context, the European Union
has recently adopted, for the first time, an
ecological index that considers the conservation
status of common farmland birds (Farmland Bird
Index) as a formal indicator of sustainable devel-
opment in Europe (structural-sustainable develop-
ment indicator). A prerequisite step before using
small terrestrial birds as an indicator group is to
obtain a deeper understanding of the underlying
patterns in diversity and the ecological structure of
this community.
In the present study we conducted an ecological
study, considering the land bird community (passerine
and woodpecker species) as a target group, in order
to provide a guideline for the ecological management
of a remote area, surrounding the mountainous
Pindos (or Valia Calda) National Park in NW Greece.
The Park was created in 1966 and is considered to be
one of the most important protected areas for the
maintenance of mountainous biodiversity and eco-
system integrity at national scale. However, existing
knowledge on the biological diversity of the area
remains fragmentary (Mertzanis, 1999;Tsounisetal.,
1985). The Park is under the administrative authority
of a recently created (2003) Management Body, which
is responsible for the ecological management of a
much larger region that includes eight protected
areas of the NATURA 2000 network. This authority
together with the local Forest Service is responsible
for regulating human activities and maintaining the
ecological value of Pindos National Park (NP).
However, this target remains elusive, due to a lack
of expertise and of a science-based management plan
for the NP. Thus a great need exists to conduct
conservation-oriented research that can be trans-
lated directly into practical management proposals.
The present research attempts to fill this gap in
relation to the bird community. Specifically, our
objectives are: (a) to assess the relative importance
of different habitat types for avian conservation; (b)
to test whether tree composition, vertical structural
complexity and tree height affect bird community in
forest stands; (c) to analyse the ecological structure
of bird communities and to detect the main environ-
mental factors regulating species diversity and
distribution; and, (d) to identify species that are
characteristic for the main bird habitat types
distinguished. On the applied level, we attempt to
translate these findings into practical monitoring and
management schemes for the NP. Our findings could
provide a management guideline for other national
parks throughout the Greek mountains and in the
Mediterranean area.
Study area and site selection
The study area is located in north-western
Greece (391540N, 211070E) and covers a surface of
V. Kati et al.48
16,000 ha. The National Park covers 6868 ha and
consists of two sites of the European NATURA
2000 network. The strictly protected core area
(GR1310002) covers 3294 ha, and has been declared
a ‘‘biogenetic reserve’’ by the European Council;
human activities such as woodcutting, grazing,
hunting, and access by car are not allowed. The
buffer zone (GR1310003) covers 3574 ha and human
activities are controlled (Figure 1). The region is
extremely mountainous with elevations ranging
from 900 to 2177 m asl. The climate is montane
and varies depending on elevation and aspect;
annual rainfall ranges between 1000 and 1800 mm
whereas mean monthly temperatures vary between
0.9 and 21.4 1C(Trakolis et al., 1996). The
dominant vegetation type is black pine forest
(Pinus nigra) reaching up to 1700 m, whereas
common beech forest (Fagus sylvatica) covers the
northern slopes up to 1800 m. Sub-alpine grasslands
extend above 1800 m to peaks often dotted with
Balkan pines (Pinus leucodermis). The region is
sparsely populated and human activities mainly
include logging and livestock breeding, both regu-
lated by the local Forest Service, as well as
agriculture of very limited scope.
We selected 16 sites representative of the main
habitat types of the study area on the basis of the
standard European habitat typology (European
Commission, 2003)(Table 1). Sampling covered
ten forest sites containing pinewoods (P), beech
Figure. 1. Habitat types and sampling sites in the broader area of Pindos National Park, Greece.
Bird communities and reserve management 49
Table 1. Description of the sites sampled and bird diversity. Habitat codes refer to the Appendix I of the Directive 92/43/EEC (European Commission 2003).
Site code Habitat type Site description Bird diversity of sites
Habitat code Area
Zone SHMean
P1 Sub-Mediterranean pine forests with endemic
black pines (Pinus nigra)
9530 20 1519 2.00 0.39 1220 w 1, 2 11 3.17 4.83 6.33 5
P2 9530 20 1442 2.67 0.40 2035 1 20 3.18 9.50 12.00 5
P3 9530 20 1130 4.00 0.39 2025 3 20 3.15 9.60 11.80 5
P4 9530 20 1452 2.20 0.39 1624 1 16 3.19 8.80 11.20 5
P5 Mediterranean pine forests with endemic
Mesogean pines (Pinus leucodermis)
9540 15 1572 3.00 0.38 1822 1 7 3.16 7.00 7.00 3
B1 Asperulo-Fagetum beech forest (Fagus sylvatica) 9130 20 1419 2.86 0.26 1625 1 17 2.93 6.14 6.71 5
B2 9130 20 1558 2.29 0.31 1217 w 2 15 2.85 6.14 9.00 5
PB1 Mixed pine-beech woods 9530 9130 20 1356 3.50 0.39 2035 w 20 3.2 9.00 13.50 5
PB2 20 1479 3.20 0.38 2035 w 19 3.21 8.60 10.80 5
R Constantly flowing Mediterranean rivers with Salix
and Populus alba
3280 20 964 2.80 0.39 1522 w 20 3.2 7.20 8.40 5
G1 Semi-natural dry grasslands and scrubland facies
on calcareous substrates
6210 20 1714 2.17 0.35 g 2 18 3.1 8.33 13.17 5
G2 Endemic oro-Mediterranean heaths with gorse 4090 20 1733 2.17 0.36 w, g 18 3.18 5.33 9.33 5
G3 4090 10 1412 2.00 0.38 g 2 7 3.18 5.00 11.00 2
G4 4090 10 1461 2.00 0.39 g 1 15 3.18 9.00 17.50 2
A1 Rural mosaics 1020 20 986 2.20 0.28 g 19 2.57 7.80 9.20 5
A2 1020 20 1221 2.80 0.29 g, a 23 2.89 10.00 14.40 5
ALT: altitude, NL: mean number of vegetation layers, 1/D: mean Simpson reciprocal index of vertical structure, MH: maximum height of upper tree layer, S: species richness, H: Shannon
diversity index, MeanWS: mean weighted species richness, 1: NP core area, 2: NP buffer zone, 3: sacred grove a: agricultural use, g: grazing, w: woodcutting.
V. Kati et al.50
woods (B), mixed woods (PB) and riverine vegeta-
tion (R), as well as four grassland sites (G) and two
agricultural ones (A) (Table 1). Most of the sites
sampled were located inside areas protected by the
NATURA 2000 network, and one site (P3) was
strictly protected as a sacred grove.
Bird sampling
We surveyed the bird communities at 72 point
locations, recording all passerine and woodpecker
species seen or heard within a circle of a 100 m
radius of each point. Points were located at a
distance of 200 m between them and at least 100 m
from site edge, in order to avoid double counting
and edge effects. All sites (20 ha) were represented
by five points with the exception of three smaller
sites (1015 ha) that were covered with 23 points.
To cover both sedentary species and late-arriving
migrants, we sampled every site twice, once in late
spring (30 April30 May 2003) and once in early
summer (5 June5 July 2003). In our bird count
methodology (see Bibby et al., 1992;Blondel et al.,
1970), a singing, territorial male represented a
breeding pair and was therefore counted as two
individuals. Every call different from the male
breeding song was counted as one individual. Each
count lasted for 10 min and took place between
30 min before and four hours after sunrise.
Measurement of environmental variables
We located a smaller quadrate (50 m 50 m) at
the centre of the each one of the 72 bird survey
points where we sampled the four main vegetation
layers: (1) upper tree layer (47 m); (2) lower tree
layer (4.17 m); (3) upper shrub layer (2.14 m); (4)
lower shrub layer (0.52m) (Kent & Coker, 1994).
We visually determined the percentage cover
(relative area occupied by the vertical projection
of all aerial parts of woody plants as a percentage
of the surface area of the sample plot) for the
separate layers (van der Maarel, 2005), using the
following vegetation cover classes (Ku¨chler, 1988)
1¼15%, 2 ¼625%, 3 ¼2650%, 4 ¼5175%,
5¼76100%. For each quadrate we recorded the
altitude (ALT),the overall vegetation cover (COV),
the maximum height of the upper tree layer (MH)in
forest habitats, the number of vegetation layers
(NL) and the reciprocal of Simpson’s diversity index
(1/D) as a measure of vertical vegetation complex-
ity (Magurran, 2004). We also noted the general
habitat category the station referred to (agricul-
ture, forest, and grassland).
Data analysis
We estimated the overall number of species of
the study area using the software EstimateS
(Colwell 2006) with the option of 1000 randomisa-
tions. We opted for non-parametric species esti-
mators, which consider mainly the presence of rare
species, recorded by one or two individuals
(Chao 1), or present in one or two point counts
(Chao 2) (Magurran, 2004). Species diversity was
estimated in terms of species richness (S),
weighted species richness (WS), and ShannonWei-
ner index (H)(Magurran, 2004), using the maximum
abundance recorded over the two seasons. We also
calculated their mean values per sampling point
(MeanS, Mean WS) and we compared them for
the pine, broad-leaved and mixed woods using the
KruskalWallis non-parametric test and then the
MannWhitney tests with Bonferroni correction,
with the help of SPSS software (Field, 2005).
Weighted species richness is the species richness
of the site, with each species having a different
weight based on its conservation status (SPEC
category) (BirdLife International, 2004). We as-
signed a standard weight (w¼1) to the species of
favourable conservation status (SPEC 4 category or
non-SPEC category). We assigned double weight
(w¼2) to the species of SPEC 3 category, which are
not concentrated in Europe but have an unfavour-
able conservation status. Finally we assigned a
quadruple weight (w¼4) to the species in the SPEC
2 category, which are concentrated in Europe and
have an unfavourable conservation status and to
the species listed in Annex I of the European
Directive 79/409 EU, which includes all bird species
subject to special conservation measures in
Europe. We also calculated the bird diversity
indices (S, WS, H) for each point count and
tested their correlation with the five quantitative
environmental variables sampled using Spearman
correlation coefficients (SPSS, vers 15.).
To assess which environmental factors shape bird
community composition, we used the Canonical
Correspondence Analysis (CCA) option from the
ordination program CANOCO (ter Braak & Smilauer,
2002), because the length of the gradients of
Detrended Correspondence Analysis (DCA) indi-
cated a heterogeneous dataset (Leps & Smilauer,
2005). This method extracts the major gradients in
the data that are accounted for by the measured
variables. The position of a species in the resulting
plot indicates the characteristics of the ecological
optimum for this taxon; its abundance will de-
crease with increasing distance from this point.
Species encountered only once were not included
in the analysis and species abundances were log
Bird communities and reserve management 51
transformed. A forward selection procedure using a
Monte-Carlo permutation test with 1000 iterations
was used to select and present in the CCA diagram
only the significant (po0.05) environmental vari-
ables that explained variation in community struc-
ture. The multi-collinearity of environmental
variables was tested using the inflation factor.
We used Ward’s clustering method to group
hierarchically the point counts into clusters,
expressing the different habitat types of bird
community. We also used the indicator value
procedure (IndVal) (Dufreˆne & Legendre, 1997)to
identify the typical species characterising each of
the clusters. IndVal is a percentage that ranges
between 0 and 100 and takes its maximum value
when the species is present exclusively in all sites
of a single cluster. All calculations were carried out
using IndVal software (Dufreˆne, 1999). A species
is considered to be a ‘‘symmetrical indicator’’
(IndVal450%) for one cluster, when it is present
in 470% of the sites of the cluster and when 470%
of its individuals occur in the cluster. A random
reallocation procedure (1000 iterations) of sites
among site groups was used to test IndVal sig-
nificance (alpha ¼0.05).
Point count sampling resulted in 56 species (14 of
conservation concern), whereas the overall bird
species number recorded inside and outside point
counts was 62 species, including six wood-
peckers (Piciformes) and 56 passerine species
(Passeriformes) (Appendix I). The ornithological
importance of the study area is high, given that
we recorded six and ten species of unfavourable
conservation status concentrated in Europe (SPEC 2)
or not (SPEC 3), respectively (Appendix I). The
overall estimated species richness using non-para-
metric estimators was between 56 (Chao 1 estima-
tor) and 66 species (Chao 2 estimator). We have
therefore sampled exhaustively the bird commu-
nity of the area.
Bird diversity
The most important site for bird conservation, on
the basis of the criterion of mean weighted species
richness (MeanWS) was the montane grassland G4
(Table 1). Although not very species-rich (15
species), it held seven out of the 16 species of
conservation concern (SPEC 2: Carduelis cannabi-
na, Emberiza hortulana, Lullula arborea; SPEC 3:
Anthus campestris, Lanius collurio, Monticola
saxatilis, Oenanthe oenanthe). The second most
important site, which was also the richest in
species number was a traditionally cultivated site
(A2), including six out of the 16 species of
conservation concern (C. cannabina, E. hortulana,
L. collurio, Milaria calandra, Muscicapa striata,
Passer domesticus). The next sites in rank was a
mixed pine-beech forest (PB1), a montane grass-
land (G1), a black pine forest located in the core
area of the NP that has not been harvested for at
least two centuries and is accessible exclusively on
foot (P2), and a sacred grove of black pines that has
also not been harvested for at least two centuries
(P3) (Table 1). The species richness and the
weighted species richness were significantly higher
in the mixed pine-beech woods than in the pine-
woods (Kruskall Wallis test p¼o0.05, MannWhitney
post-hoc tests po0.0160), whereas pinewoods
and broad-leaved woods did not differ significantly
between them.
Community structure and typical species
Bird species richness in each point count (S)
decreased significantly (po0.01) with increasing
altitude (Table 2). Bird species richness together
with the weighted species richness in each point
count (WS) increased significantly (po0.01) with
the number of vegetation layers (NL) and with the
maximum height of upper tree layer (MH) in the
forested sites. Finally, the Shannon diversity index
for birds in each point count (H) was significantly
(po0.01) correlated with the vertical structural
complexity as expressed by the Simpson reciprocal
index 1/D(Table 2).
The CCA model was significant (po0.001) and
revealed clearly that the presence of grassland,
forest or agricultural habitat type, as well as
altitude and vegetation structural complexity
Table 2. Spearman correlation coefficients between
bird diversity indices of point counts and environmental
Diversity indices Environmental parameters
WS 0.219
ALT: altitude, NL: number of vegetation layers, 1/D: Simpson
reciprocal index of vertical structure, MH: maximum height of
upper tree layer, S: species richness, WS: weighted species
richness, H: Shannon diversity index.
V. Kati et al.52
(1/D) affected significantly bird species assem-
blages (Figure 2). The first CCA axis (11.4% of data
variability and 49% of species-environment rela-
tion) also explained the first hierarchical division in
Ward’s dendrogram; the latter reflected a gradient
from forested sites at lower altitudes towards
grasslands at higher altitudes (Figure 3). The first
ordination axis of species dataset predicts the bird
community in the right part of the CCA diagram
(montane grassland community) and is calculated
as: [0.89 Grassland +0.61 Altitude +0.14 1/D0.29
Agriculture], if we consider the statistically
significant environmental variables without
multicollinearity in the CCA model (Figure 2).
Three species (Emberiza citrinella, L. arborea,
O. oenanthe) were typical species of the above
community (Figure 3). The second CCA axis (5.6% of
species data variability and 24% of species-environ-
ment relation) explained the second division in
Ward’s dendrogram; the latter reflected a gradient
from tall forests towards sites of lower trees and
agricultural character (Figure 3). The respective
equation of the second axis of species dataset that
predicts the bird community in the upper part of
the CCA diagram (agriculture and low trees) is the
following: [0.68 Agriculture +0.18 Grassland 0.55
1/D0.4 Altitude]. A group of eight species was
Figure 3. Hierarchical clustering of sites produced by Ward’s method and typical species with significant indicator
values (in parenthesis) that are greater than 50% for each cluster.
-0.6 1.
Mcal Ecirl
Acaud Cchl
Cbra Rign
Par er
Sser Arriv
Figure 2. Triplot of bird species, significant environ-
mental variables and sampling sites after Canonical
Correspondence Analysis. Only species with a fit greater
than 30% are shown.
Bird communities and reserve management 53
identified as typical for the above community,
increasing in abundance along the second axis
(Aegithaulus caudatus, Troglodytes troglodytes,
Parus major, Parus caerulaeus, M. striata, Turdus
merula, Coccothraustes coccothraustes, Emberiza
cirlus)(Figure 3). On the other hand, the relative
abundance of two typical forest species (Parus ater,
Regulus ignicapilla),decreased along this axis.
Furthermore, two typical species for pinewoods
were identified (Dendrocopos major,Parus
cristatus)¸whereas no typical species existed
for beech woods. Finally, we found that some
species were generalists, being common through-
out the study area and presenting their highest
indicator value for all the sites sampled (i.e.
Fringilla coelebs, Phylloscopus collybita, Erithacus
rubecula),whereas two forest species were general
indicators for all sites of forest character (Sylvia
atricapilla, Certhia brachydactyla)(Figure 3).
Community structure
The presence of agricultural land, grasslands or
forests, as well as altitude and vegetation vertical
complexity were the main statistically significant
environmental gradients that influence the distri-
bution of bird community in the broader area of
Pindos National Park. The bird community was
distributed along a gradient from forested habitats
at lower altitudes towards montane grasslands at
higher altitudes and along a gradient from forest
stands with high trees and greater vertical struc-
tural complexity towards lower trees and culti-
vated land. These results are in agreement with
other studies in the Mediterranean area (e.g. ´az,
2006;Kati & Sekercioglu, 2006;Prodon & Lebreton,
1981). Birds distinguish three general bird habitat
types in the study area: grasslands; shrubby
habitats of agricultural land or riverine vegetation;
and forest habitats of pinewoods or beech woods,
thus perceiving the environment at a relatively
coarse scale.
Typical species
Our study offers a valuable conservation tool for
the management and monitoring plan of the study
area, as it reveals a set of 17 typical species of the
different habitat types, occurring almost exclu-
sively in the relevant habitats and with great
abundances. Some of the species recorded were
generalists having a broad ecological niche and
distribution range in the study area with no
indicator value. Several species were encountered
with increased abundances in the montane grass-
lands and three of them were revealed as grassland
indicators (Figures 2 and 3). In the same context,
eight bird species were typical of the agricul-
tural sites and the bushy habitats of riverine
vegetation, whereas another six bird species
were typical for the forest conditions (Figures. 2
and 3). If we compare our results with the typical
species found in a Mediterranean reserve at
low altitude (Dadia NP, less than 600 m), we find
some similarities, concerning the generalist species
(e.g. F. coelebs, E. rubecula) and the indicator
species of forest conditions (e.g. S. atricapilla,
C. brachydactyla, typical for broad-leaved woods).
However, we found that L. arborea is typical of
montane grasslands in Pindos NP but it is also
typical for lowland heaths in Dadia NP in eastern
Greece (Kati & Sekercioglu 2006). Special attention
should be paid to the typical species that have an
unfavourable conservation status in Europe at this
time (SPEC 2, 3). For our study area, these were:
L. arborea and O. oenanthe (typical for montane
grasslands); M. striata (typical farmland species);
and P. cristatus (typical pine forest species). All
indicator species as well as the species with
unfavourable conservation status should be inte-
grated into the future monitoring program of the
NP, in order to evaluate their own conservation
status as well as their habitat condition, on a long-
term basis.
Bird diversity
Bird species richness was inversely correlated
with altitude in our study area, but the weighted
species richness, which also considers the conser-
vation status of the species, was not. This well
known pattern of decreased species richness with
increasing altitude is explained by the theory of
island biogeography and has been shown for bird
communities in a variety of climatic zones (Kattan
& Franco, 2004;Prodon et al., 2002). However, we
found that the bird community of montane grass-
lands, which is a quite widespread habitat type in
the Mediterranean mountains, comprises fewer but
important species with unfavourable conservation
status in Europe (SPEC 2, 3) and therefore should be
considered as a primary habitat for conservation in
the NP.
Another important site for bird diversity con-
servation in the study area was the agricultural
site A2. It was a rural mosaic, situated in the
forested zone, alternating small cultivated plots
V. Kati et al.54
with pastures and orchards, separated by natural
vegetation of hedges and tree lines. Site A1 was
less species-rich, where former agricultural plots
were not cultivated any more but were periodically
grazed by livestock (Table 1). These rural mosaics
were the rarest habitat in our study area, because
small-scale farming using traditional agricultural
practices has become financially unprofitable over
the last decades and has therefore led to land
abandonment in the broader area of Pindos NP,
as in other mountainous areas in Europe (Gellrich &
Zimmermann, 2007;MacDonald et al., 2000).
Farmland bird diversity is subject to two major
threats in Europe: agricultural intensification
mostly in the northern lowlands (Chamberlain
et al., 2000;Donald et al., 2001;Kati & Sekercioglu,
2006;Pain & Pienkowski, 1997); and agro-pastoral
land abandonment mostly in the Mediterranean
mountains. The latter results in forest encroachment,
landscape heterogeneity decline, and agricultural
habitat loss negatively affecting farmland bird
diversity (Farina, 1997;Laiolo et al., 2004;Preiss
et al., 1997;Suarez-Seoane et al., 2002). Our results
provide additional evidence supporting the need to
enhance the agri-environmental measures of the
European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) against
land abandonment in less favoured mountainous
areas, so as to maintain the traditional agricultural
practices and the associated, biologically rich
agricultural mosaics.
We found that the mixed pine-beech woods were
richer and more important for bird conservation
rather than the pinewoods. However, the mixed
woods did not form a separate cluster in hierarch-
ical clustering analysis and did not hold a specia-
lised avifauna (no indicator species for mixed
woods). Mixed stands can be either more species-
rich or not of unmixed stands, but they are known
to hold an intermediate bird species community
between those of broadleaved and coniferous
stands (Archaux & Bakkaus, 2007;´az, 2006;
Donald et al., 1998;Willson & Comet, 1996).
Besides, we found no statistically significant differ-
ence when comparing the species richness (and the
weighted species richness) of the unmixed
natural pine and broad-leaved woods. We question
therefore the general admission that broad-leaved
stands hold richer bird communities than pure
coniferous stands, when natural native stands
are compared. This relationship could be attributed
to the reduced ecological value of introduced
conifer plantations compared to the natural native
character of broad-leaved woods (Archaux &
Bakkaus, 2007). These results may have a good
extrapolative value to other Mediterranean natural
forest ecosystems, since the forest habitat types
sampled in Pindos NP, such as the pinewoods
(P. nigra) and the beech woods (F. sylvatica)
are encountered in other mountains in the
Mediterranean (Italy, Corsica, Spain, Portugal,
France) with the exception of the Balkan
pinewoods, encountered only in Greece and
southern Italy.
Bird diversity was strongly correlated with
vertical structural vegetation complexity (NL,
1/D). Vertical stratification in forest vegetation
has a positive influence over forest avifauna, as the
presence of shrub layers offers more ecological
niches, foraging opportunities and breeding re-
sources especially for undergrowth-dependent bird
species (e.g. Camprodon & Brotons, 2006;´az,
2006;James & Wamer, 1982;Prodon & Lebreton,
1981;Wesolowski, 2007). This relationship was
detected for the first time in Greek island
ecosystems (Watson, 1964), but no other study
has been conducted to quantify it in different
Greek forest ecosystems since then.
Although tree height was not a statistically
significant environmental parameter to predict bird
species in our CCA model, we found that the
presence of high trees was positively correlated
with the number of species (S) and also with the
number of important bird species (WS) in forest
habitats. We also found that two tall old growth
pinewoods that have not been harvested for
centuries (P2, P3) were richer than those lower
pinewoods (P1, P4, P5). Forest bird species richness
increases with tree height (Donald et al., 1998;
Helle & Monkkonen, 1990). If we assume that high
tree stands are also more mature, we could
attribute this positive relationship to the fact that
older forest stands provide more tree holes, as well
as a higher amount of dead wood as breeding and
feeding habitat for a variety of specialist taxa (e.g.
´az, 2006;Gil-Tena et al., 2007;Hobson & Bayne,
2000;Keller et al., 2003;Laiolo et al., 2003;
Sekercioglu, 2002;Wesolowski, 2007).
Conservation management
In the applied context, our study proves the
importance and the need for maintenance of the
montane grasslands in their present status. Sec-
ondly, it suggests that the enhancement of tradi-
tional agricultural practices in the broader area
surrounding the Pindos NP could have beneficial
effects on local bird communities. Thirdly, we
emphasise the need for protection of the natural
remaining old growth forests in the core area.
Although timber extraction is not allowed in the
core area since the creation of the NP (1966),
Bird communities and reserve management 55
logging of old growth pine trees for commercial
reasons seems to have occurred in 80s, facilitated
by the existing road network. Fourthly, our results
indicate that sustainable forestry practices need to
maintain the mixed character of forest stands
where they occur, the vertical structural complex-
ity as well as a number of high and mature trees in
managed forest stands. Finally, we argue that the
14 species of unfavourable conservation status
(SPEC 2 and 3) together with the typical species
found per bird habitat type should be integrated
into the future monitoring scheme of Pindos
National Park, as a tool for forest management
(Kati & Sekercioglu 2006;Mu¨ller 2005). The above
proposals can have an extrapolative value in other
mountainous reserves across the country and in the
Mediterranean mountains.
This research was partially funded by the
Hellenic Ministry of Environment and Public Works
in the frame of the Sustainable Development
Project (ETERPS funds) and from Pindos Perivallon-
tiki NGO. We are grateful to I. Leonardos from the
University of Ioannina for support, to J. Foufopou-
los and to S. Sfenthourakis for helpful comments on
the manuscript.
Appendix I
Inventory of all 62 bird species recorded in the
study area and weighted index (w) according to
their conservation status (SPEC category 2004).
Table A1
Code Species wSPEC 2004 Code Species wSPEC 2004
Piciformes Phcol Phylloscopus collybita 1
Pvir Picus viridis 42 Rreg Regulus regulus 14
Dmart Dryocopus martius 4
Rign Regulus ignicapilla 14
Dmaj Dendrocopos major 1Mstr Muscicapa striata 23
Dsyr Dendrocopos syriacus 4
4Ppal Parus palustris 23
Dmed Dendrocopos medius 4
4Plug Parus lugubris 14
Dmin Dendrocopos minor 1Pmont Parus montanus 1
Passeriformes Pcrist Parus cristatus 42
Galerida cristata 23 Pater Parus ater 1
Larb Lullula arborea 4
2Pcaer Parus caeruleus 14
Alauda arvensis 23 Pmaj Parus major 1
Hirundo daurica 1Acaud Aegithalos caudatus 1
Durb Delichon urbica 23 Seur Sitta europaea 1
Acamp Anthus campestris 4
3Cfam Certhia familiaris 1
Atriv Anthus trivialis 1Cbra Certhia brachydactyla 14
Mflav Motacilla flava 1Lcol Lanius collurio 4
Motacilla cinerea 1Ggland Garrulus glandarius 1
Malb Motacilla alba 1Ccor Corvus corone 1
Ccincl Cinclus cinclus 1Ccorax Corvus corax 1
Ttrogl Troglodytes troglodytes 1Pdom Passer domesticus 23
Pmod Prunella modularis 14 Fcoel Fringilla coelebs 14
Erub Erithacus rubecula 14 Sser Serinus serinus 14
Lmeg Luscinia megarhynchos 14 Cchl Chloris chloris 14
Phocrh Phoenicurus ochrurus 1Ccard Carduelis carduelis 1
Ooen Oenanthe oenanthe 23 Ccan Carduelis cannabina 42
Montsax Monticola saxatilis 23 Lcurv Loxia curvirostra 1
Tmer Turdus merula 14 Pyrpyr Pyrrhula pyrrhyla 1
Tphil Turdus philomelos 14 Ccoc Coccothraustes coccothraustes 1
Tvisc Turdus viscivorus 14 Ecitr Emberiza citrinella 14
Sylvia melanocephala 14 Ecirl Emberiza cirlus 14
Sylvia curruca 1Ehort Emberiza hortulana 42
Satr Sylvia atricapilla 14 Mcal Milaria calandra 42
Species of Annex I of 79/409EU. SPEC 2: concentrated in Europe and with unfavourable conservation status, SPEC 3: not concentrated
in Europe but with unfavourable conservation status, SPEC 4: concentrated in Europe and with favourable conservation status.
V. Kati et al.56
Species codes are given only for the species
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Bird communities and reserve management 59
... Complex forest vertical structure positively influences Mediterranean forest bird communities (López & Moro 1997;Camprodon & Brotons 2006;Kati et al. 2009). In many Mediterranean regions where dense oak forests prevail, understorey clearing is a widespread technique to reduce vegetation, and hence reduce fuel availability to prevent fires (Moreira et al. 2011). ...
... Forest tree composition also affects Mediterranean forest bird communities through its influence on forest vegetation structure (Brotons & 334 · European Forests and Their Bird Communities Herrando 2001). For example, the vertical structure of pine plantations is simpler than that of natural mixed pine-broadleaved woods or oakwoods, leading to lower forest bird species richness (Díaz 2006;Kati et al. 2006Kati et al. , 2009Bergner et al. 2015). In the western Mediterranean, pine plantations on formerly arable land are also generally less suitable for Mediterranean shrubland birds, unless pine trees are small or young, but can benefit some specialist forest species of northern origin, like shorttoed treecreeper Certhia brachydactyla and coal tit Periparus ater (Santos et al. 2006; Chapter 10). ...
... Forest maturation was a major driver of these dynamics, which is consistent with the fact that most forest bird species in the Mediterranean, as elsewhere in Europe, are strongly associated with advanced forest development stages rather than with initial successional stages typical of young (recently colonised) forests (Blondel & Farré 1988;Suárez-Seoane et al. 2002). Mature forest stands are characterised by a more complex forest structure and therefore provide a diversity of microhabitats for species with very different resource needs Kati et al. 2009). Forest maturation is important in the Mediterranean, because old-growth forests are scarce due to long-lasting human interference. ...
... Complex forest vertical structure positively influences Mediterranean forest bird communities (López & Moro 1997;Camprodon & Brotons 2006;Kati et al. 2009). In many Mediterranean regions where dense oak forests prevail, understorey clearing is a widespread technique to reduce vegetation, and hence reduce fuel availability to prevent fires (Moreira et al. 2011). ...
... Forest tree composition also affects Mediterranean forest bird communities through its influence on forest vegetation structure (Brotons & 334 · European Forests and Their Bird Communities Herrando 2001). For example, the vertical structure of pine plantations is simpler than that of natural mixed pine-broadleaved woods or oakwoods, leading to lower forest bird species richness (Díaz 2006;Kati et al. 2006Kati et al. , 2009Bergner et al. 2015). In the western Mediterranean, pine plantations on formerly arable land are also generally less suitable for Mediterranean shrubland birds, unless pine trees are small or young, but can benefit some specialist forest species of northern origin, like shorttoed treecreeper Certhia brachydactyla and coal tit Periparus ater (Santos et al. 2006; Chapter 10). ...
... Forest maturation was a major driver of these dynamics, which is consistent with the fact that most forest bird species in the Mediterranean, as elsewhere in Europe, are strongly associated with advanced forest development stages rather than with initial successional stages typical of young (recently colonised) forests (Blondel & Farré 1988;Suárez-Seoane et al. 2002). Mature forest stands are characterised by a more complex forest structure and therefore provide a diversity of microhabitats for species with very different resource needs Kati et al. 2009). Forest maturation is important in the Mediterranean, because old-growth forests are scarce due to long-lasting human interference. ...
Cambridge Core - Natural Resource Management, Agriculture, Horticulture and forestry - Ecology and Conservation of Forest Birds - edited by Grzegorz Mikusiński
... Cultivated areas are generally known to play a fundamental role in maintaining breeding bird diversity in the Mediterranean region (e.g. Farina 1997, Suarez-Seoane et al. 2002, Kati et al. 2009). However, agricultural intensification has led to a dramatic decline in farmland bird diversity in many European countries (Pain and Pienkowski 1997, Chamberlain et al. 2000, Donald et al. 2001. ...
... Hence, two major environmental gradients seem to affect bird distribution in the DNP: vegetation cover and vegetation height. These results are consistent with other studies in the Mediterranean region (Blondel et al.1973, Prodon and Lebreton 1981, Catsadorakis 1997, Kati et al. 2009). The height gradient corresponds mainly to successional stage of the vegetation while vegetation cover corresponds to the degree of clearings, formed either by humans (agriculture, logging, livestock grazing) or by natural processes (fire, grazing by native herbivores). ...
Full-text available
We present an ecological analysis of landbird (Passeriformes, Piciformes, Coraciiformes) distribution in Dadia–Lefkimi– Soufli Forest National Park and suggest measures for their conservation. We conducted two point-count studies, one inside the park (155 points) and the other in an adjoining agricultural zone (75 points) and recorded 120 species of landbirds, including 39 species with an unfavourable conservation status in Europe (SPEC 2 and 3). Vegetation cover and height were the two main environmental gradients affecting bird distribution (Principal Coordinate Analysis). We also identified eight distinct bird habitats (k-means clustering) and found 13 species characterizing them (IndVal procedure). Hence, we proposed a set of selected species to be monitored on a permanent basis (SPEC/typical species). We demonstrated the importance of the buffer zone for landbird conservation rather than the pine-dominated core zone, and more particularly the mosaic sites and forest clearings. Both studies confirmed the unique importance of rural mosaics, thus providing strong arguments against further land re-allotment and agricultural intensification in the broader area around the park.
... En forêts, il existe également des relations positives entre l'hétérogénéité de la structure locale des peuplements forestiers et l'abondance ou la richesse des espèces forestières. Des relations quantitatives ont été démontrées notamment pour les espèces saproxyliques 9 Bütler et al. 2004;Penttilä et al. 2004;Paillet et al. 2009), les oiseaux (MacArthur & MacArthur 1961;Willson 1974;Kati et al. 2009), les espèces cavernicoles (Ranius 2002;Branquart & Liégeois 2005) et la végétation de sous-bois (Brosofske et al. 2001;Bagnaresi et al. 2002;Macdonald & Fenniak 2007;Ares et al. 2009). 9 Liées pendant tout ou une partie de leur cycle de vie à du bois mort ou mourant (Good & Speight 1996). ...
... A mosaic of coniferous, broadleaved and mixed stands is generally assumed to create spatial heterogeneity of environmental conditions with positive effects on forest-dwelling biodiversity in the forest landscape mosaic, in particular for understory vegetation and forest-dwelling birds (Saetre et al. 1997;Hobson et al. 2000;Macdonald & Fenniak 2007;Kati et al. 2009;Chávez & Macdonald 2010). DFT was evaluated with the Shannon diversity index (Table 1); it varied between 0 and 1.1 in our study area. ...
Le déclin de la biodiversité lié à l’augmentation des pressions sur les ressources naturelles, fait l’objet d’un large consensus. Cette situation souligne un besoin urgent de développer des outils de diagnostic et de suivi de l’état de la biodiversité qui soient spatialisés, rapides à mettre en ½uvre, peu coûteux et qui permettent de réaliser des expertises à l’échelle des territoires. Une des hypothèses centrales en écologie est qu’il existe des relations positives entre l’hétérogénéité spatiale mesurée dans la mosaïque paysagère et la richesse en espèces qui peut y cohabiter à différentes échelles. Dans ce travail, nous nous appuyons sur cette hypothèse pour développer un Indice de Biodiversité Spécifique Potentielle afin de réaliser un diagnostic de l’état de la biodiversité dans la mosaïque paysagère intra-forestière à différentes échelles, en prenant l’exemple du massif du Vercors. Cet indice s’appuie sur des indicateurs et des critères capables de refléter le niveau de biodiversité potentiellement présente dans une zone géographique donnée, et permet d’approfondir les connaissances sur les relations entre la structure des peuplements, les caractéristiques de la mosaïque forestière et la richesse ou la répartition géographique des espèces. Les étapes clés de la méthodologie et de son évaluation sont valorisées sous forme d’articles. La représentation spatiale de la biodiversité potentielle à différentes échelles permet d’envisager de nombreuses applications dans les domaines de la conservation et de la gestion forestière multifonctionnelle.
... However, some of these areas are currently covered by vigorous vegetation with a predominance of dense maquis, and the lack of open areas has probably led to the disappearance of this species' territories here. The recovery of traditional grazing or the after-effects of disturbances such as wildfires, with a consequent decrease in wooded areas and an increase in open spaces, could potentially favour this species in the higher parts of the park (Pons & Prodon 1996, Kati et al. 2009, Nikolov 2010, Bazzi et al. 2015. ...
Full-text available
Knowledge of the population status, requirements and spatial distribution of wild species is essential when taking management decisions and undertaking appropriate conservation efforts. A census of much of El Garraf Park, combined with the use of Maxent and GIS technologies, allowed us to generate distribution models for some of this protected area’s most iconic breeding birds (genera Monticola, Oenanthe and Lanius). Here, we explore breeding habitat selection by these species and discuss possible conservation measures and the breeding status of these species in this protected area.
... This can not only prove useful in identifying potential old-growth stands, but over time could be used to track the development of old-growth characteristics in mature forests. More widely, these methods could be used for evaluating a woodland's importance for biodiversity: the species diversity of birds, for example, is greater in taller, more complex forests with a higher number of layers [86]. Similarly, mammal diversity has been shown to be positively related to LiDAR-derived structural complexity, and negatively related to cover [87]. ...
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A forest’s structure changes as it progresses through developmental stages from establishment to old-growth forest. Therefore, the vertical structure of old-growth forests will differ from that of younger, managed forests. Free, publicly available spaceborne Laser Range and Detection (LiDAR) data designed for the determination of forest structure has recently become available through NASA’s General Ecosystem and Development Investigation (GEDI). We use this data to investigate the structure of some of the largest remaining old-growth forests in Europe in the Ukrainian Carpathian Mountains. We downloaded 18489 cloud-free shots in the old-growth forest (OGF) and 20398 shots in adjacent non-OGF areas during leaf-on, snow-free conditions. We found significant differences between OGF and non-OGF over a wide range of structural metrics. OGF was significantly more open, with a more complex vertical structure and thicker ground-layer vegetation. We used Random Forest classification on a range of GEDI-derived metrics to classify OGF shapefiles with an accuracy of 73%. Our work demonstrates the use of spaceborne LiDAR for the identification of old-growth forests.
... Zolfaghari et al., 2019) and bird ecology (e.g. Kati et al., 2009). On the basis of their similarity of pest assemblages, clusters of geographical areas are presumed to exhibit similar biotic and abiotic conditions suitable for species establishment. ...
Invertebrate forest pests and pathogens can cause considerable economic losses and modern patterns of trade have facilitated the international movement of pest species on an unprecedented level. This upsurge in trade has increased the pathways available to high risk species, facilitating entry and potential establishment in nations where they were previously absent. To support policy and pest prioritization, pest risk analyses are conducted to decide ‘if’ and ‘how’ pests should be regulated in order to prevent entry or establishment; however, they cannot be carried out for every potential pest. This paper utilizes a hierarchical clustering (HC) approach to analyse distribution data for pests of Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis (Bong.) Carr.) in order to identify species of high risk to Ireland, as well as potential source regions of these pests. The presence and absence of almost a 1000 pests across 386 regions globally are clustered based on their similarity of pest assemblages, to provide an objective examination of the highest risk pests to Irish forestry. Regional clusters were produced for each taxon analysed including the Coleoptera, Diptera, Hemiptera, Hymenoptera, Nematoda, Lepidoptera and the Fungi. The results produced by the HC analysis were interpreted with regard to biological realism and climate. Biologically meaningful clusters were produced for each of the groups, except for the Diptera and Nematoda, and each of the species analysed were ranked within their group by a quantitative risk index specific to the island of Ireland. The impact of uncertainty in the distribution data is also examined, in order to assess its influence over the final groupings produced. The outputs from this analysis suggest that the highest risk pests for Ireland’s Sitka spruce plantations will originate from within Europe. Ultimately, Ireland could benefit from seeking regulation for some of the higher ranking pests identified in this analysis. This analysis provides the first of its type for Sitka spruce, as well as its application in Ireland. It also serves to highlight the potential utility of HC as a ‘first approach’ to assessing the risk posed by alien species to hitherto novel regions.
... Furthermore, vertical vegetation heterogeneity, integrating a number of different vegetation strata and their relative cover, is known to positively affect biodiversity (Kati et al., 2010). This relationship is particularly well known for Mediterranean forest bird communities (Brotons, Herrando, Sirami, Kati, & Díaz, 2018;Kati, Dimopoulos, Papaioannou, & Poirazidis, 2009). ...
Question What are the woody vegetation encroachment patterns after agricultural land abandonment? Focusing on two parameters, woody plant species richness and vertical vegetation heterogeneity (number of different vegetation strata and their relative cover), we investigated: i) the effect of forest encroachment following land abandonment, ii) the comparative importance of forest encroachment vis‐a‐vis topographic and climatic parameters, and finally, iii) the ecological importance of eight land‐cover types encountered in abandoned agricultural landscapes. Location The Balkan Peninsula (Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece). Methods We set up a standard methodology for 1 x 1 km site selection (70 sites) and data collection within 497 plots, along a well‐defined forest‐encroachment gradient that reflects land abandonment in terms of woody vegetation cover. Results The pattern that emerged was neither clear nor common for the Balkan region, regarding the effect of forest encroachment on the woody plant species richness in young forests, formed from 20 to 50 years after land abandonment. However, at national level, species diversity was significantly affected by elevation (Bulgaria and Croatia) and temperature (Croatia), with lower and cooler areas being richer. Elevation was of great importance in determining vertical vegetation heterogeneity. Woodlots, broadleaved forests, hedges and shrublands held the highest woody species richness in comparison to the more open land‐cover types, and vertical vegetation heterogeneity was higher in open forests and woodlots. Conclusions We expect the expansion of broadleaved forests following land abandonment to enhance woody species richness. However, other land cover types that were found to be important for woody plants should be maintained. As woody plants play a keyrole in supporting overall biodiversity, by providing suitable habitat for many species, we consider the preservation of a mosaic of patches of different land‐cover types essential for the conservation of both plant and animal species diversity. Young forests should be preserved at intermediate stages of succession, through intermediate disturbance activities, including medium intensity grazing, and the enhancement of wild ungulates. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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Common farmland birds are declining throughout Europe; however marginal farmlands that escaped intensification or land abandonment remain a heaven for farmland species in some Mediterranean mountain such as the plateaus of central Zagori, in Epirus region NW Greece. Here the microhabitat preferences of Red-backed Shrike L. collurio was studied comparing land use, structural and vegetation physiognomic characteristics using logistic regression and classification trees models. It was found that agricultural mosaics dominated by rangelands with scattered shrub or short trees mixed with arable land, ditches and dirty roads are preferred by Red-backed Shrike, while the presence of fences and the periodically burned bushes and hedgerows are particularly important, all maintained by the extensive livestock-rearing. Detailed data on breeding Red-backed Shrikes and their habitat preferences has been gathered (years 2005 and 2006) and was analyzed in five landscape scales (from 2X2 kilometres to 125X125 metres), using 23 landscape parameters within each cell with successful pairs, abandoned nests or areas of Red-backed Shrike occurrence. From the 68 pairs that built a nest, 2/3 failed to raise nestlings and the productivity of these successful pairs was 2.35 nestlings per pair. Most nests were placed in bushes with needles such as prickly oaks, depressed by grazing. The nests were found in open pasturelands that exceeded the 50% of area of each cell and were accompanied by scattered bushes in all landscape scales. The birds tend to avoid cells with roads, where they often fall victims of road accidents, while they prefer to be near sheep folds. Cells with successful nests have fewer trees, which are probably related with higher nest predation. It appears that Red-backed Shrikes are strongly associated with grazing, that maintains the vegetation "open" and the landscape heterogeneity high, while indirectly grazing is shaping the vegetation that the species use for placing its nest. Thus, Red-backed Shrike could be used as ‘bio indicator’ of agro ecosystems quality concerning their intensity of use. In addition, within a hypothetical circular plot of 75 meters around each nest (defined as “mean territory area”) several landscape variables were measured using aerial photographs of the years 1945, 1969 and 2006. We compared plots with successful and abandoned nests, as also as randomly selected plots in areas of bird’s occurrence and plots outside the bird’s distribution area. It was found that juveniles were raised successfully in areas with less change since 1945. Thus, we suppose that the current population of Red-backed Shrikes constitutes a remnant of an older population, which continues to breed successfully only in "islands" where traditional rural activities remain the same. All surrounding areas have changed considerably, either due to land abandoned or due land rearrangement works and intensification. Interestingly, other areas, were Red-backed Shrikes attempt to breed seem to constitute rather an "ecological trap", since high predation leads more that 60% of pairs in reproductive failure. Thus it is evident that the maintenance of extensive livestock-rearing, is important to preserve precious "cultural landscape". Such ancient landscapes are accompanied by activities formerly characterized as "devastating" for the Mediterranean environment, such as goats grazing, the use of fire and the periodical cutting of trees and shrubs. Grazing as a tool for nature conservation is an emerging discipline and more research is needed to examine the historical co-evolution between livestock and biodiversity. To conclude with, Red- backed Shrike can be proposed as a suitable "bio indicator" of pasturelands and seems to be a useful "tool" for the evaluation of locally adapted agri-environmental measures in ‘‘High Nature Value’’ areas and mountainous National Parks. The usefulness of Red-backed Shrike can also be precious for the follow-up of vegetation succession, the change of land uses and even the effect of climatic changes in local scale, for a variety of ecosystems from evergreen shrub lands in lowlands to the anthropogenic subalpine meadows where the species breed in our country.
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This paper presents a new and simple method to find indicator species and species assemblages characterizing groups of sites. The novelty of our approach lies in the way we combine a species relative abundance with its relative frequency of occurrence in the various groups of sites. This index is maximum when all individuals of a species are found in a single group of sites and when the species occurs in all sites of that group; it is a symmetric indicator. The statistical significance of the species indicator values is evaluated using a randomization procedure. Contrary to TWINSPAN, our indicator index for a given species is independent of the other species relative abundances, and there is no need to use pseudospecies. The new method identifies indicator species for typologies of species releves obtained by any hierarchical or nonhierarchical classification procedure; its use is independent of the classification method. Because indicator species give ecological meaning to groups of sites, this method provides criteria to compare typologies, to identify where to stop dividing clusters into subsets, and to point out the main levels in a hierarchical classification of sites. Species can be grouped on the basis of their indicator values for each clustering level, the heterogeneous nature of species assemblages observed in any one site being well preserved. Such assemblages are usually a mixture of eurytopic (higher level) and stenotopic species (characteristic of lower level clusters). The species assemblage approach demonstrates the importance of the 'sampled patch size,' i.e., the diversity of sampled ecological combinations, when we compare the frequencies of core and Satellite species. A new way to present species-site tables, accounting for the hierarchical relationships among species, is proposed. A large data set of carabid beetle distributions in open habitats of Belgium is used as a case study to illustrate the new method.
Bird communities were tested as indicators of different woodland structures in oak woods of Franconian (Bavaria, southern Germany) coppice-with-standards, conversion and high forests, as well as in Strict Forest Reserves. On the basis of grid mapping and using the canonical correspondence analysis, which combines complex data on all bird species and data on the environment, it was possible to show that breeding bird communities are better suited to indicate differences in the structure of deciduous woods than wintering bird communities. Characteristic species of open stands during the breeding season (Fig. 7) are Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis, Garden Warbler Sylvia borin, Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus, Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur, Wryneck Jynx torquilla and Hedge Accentor Prunella modularis. Species of two layer stands are Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus, Grey-headed Woodpecker Picus canus, Fieldfare Turdus pilaris, Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella, Common Chiffichaff Phylloscopus collybita and Willow Warbler P. trochilus. Characteristic species of staggered oakwoods mixed with coniferous trees are Goldcrest Regulus regulus, Firecrest R. ignicapillus, Coal Tit Parus ater and Common Crossbill Loxia curvirostra, usually typical for conifer woods, and Wren Troglodytes troglodytes. Characteristic for dense woods are, in order of decreasing indicator function, Shorttoed Treecreeper Certhia brachydactyla, Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca, Middle Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos medius, Wood Warbler Phylloscopus sibilatrix, European Nuthatch Sitta europaea, Eurasian Treecreeper Certhia familiaris, Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos minor, Great Spotted Woodpecker D. major and Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes. Further proof for the indicator function of different bird species could be achieved by a species-indicator-analysis (Table 3). Beside the Middle Spotted Woodpecker, the Collared Flycatcher Ficedula albicollis is the second important target species of conservation management in oak woods. Multivariate analysis resulted in only a minor function of this species, but there was a strong correlation for this species to occur in woods with a high proportion of dead branches in crowns of live oaks (Fig.8).
This chapter presents a system of analyzing the physiognomy and structure of vegetation in detail as it is used by the Vegetation mapper.
We studied the populations of breeding birds in five reference stands of natural mixedwood forest and 11 conifer plantations up to 21-years old in southern New Brunswick, Canada. Variations of the distribution and abundance of birds were related to changes in the plant-species composition and structural attributes of their habitat. Bird species occurred in plantations in levels of abundance and diversity similar to that of reference forest, although community composition was highly dissimilar. Species of reference stands were typical of mature, mixedwood forest. Species of younger plantations were typical of open, early successional, upland habitats. Once the plantations became older than 13 years and the tree height exceeded about 5 m, birds typical of conifer forest began to invade the habitat, resulting in a mixed-species composition. Although cavity-containing snags were rare in the plantations, if they did occur in them or near their edge they were used by hole-nesting birds. Although we could not study a complete rotation, the field data and habitat trajectory suggest that the plantations will not support some elements of the avian biodiversity of the natural forest in the study area. The mature plantations will be highly depauperate in coarse-woody debris, snags, and cavities, and will not support species dependent on these critical habitat elements. In addition, birds requiring habitat containing trees of larger size and of various species, including hardwoods, will not find the mature plantations to be suitable. To accommodate the needs of species potentially at risk from the extensive development of plantations, the following changes in forestry management practices should be instituted: (1) retention of natural cavity-trees, snags, coarse-woody debris, and hardwood trees and shrubs in residual non-harvested "islands" within clear-cuts and plantations; (b) retention of a patchy angiosperm component by leaving some areas untreated during herbicide applications; and (c) setting aside large areas of natural forest as non-harvested protected areas. Although we believe that these mitigations would help sustain elements of indigenous biodiversity that are at risk in an extensive industrial forest, we stress that these predictions would have to be tested through additional research and monitoring.
The investigation of six vertebrate taxa (viz freshwater fish, frogs, tortoises and terrapins, snakes, birds, and various mammal orders) at a national scale reveals that hotspots of species richness, endemism and rarity are not coincident within taxa. In order to design a more representative reserve system to protect all vertebrate species, a complementarity algorithm was applied to all taxa, combined and separately. The combined analysis yielded more efficient results (66 reserves are required to represent all 1074 species at least once) than the separate analyses (97 reserves). Many of these representative reserves coincide with both hotspots and existing reserves, and over 85% of the hotspots of most taxa coincide with existing reserves; thus South Africa's vertebrate fauna could be more effectively protected with only moderate acquisition of new, well-sited reserves. -from Author
The populations of farmland birds in Europe declined markedly during the last quarter of the 20th century, representing a severe threat to biodiversity. Here, we assess whether declines in the populations and ranges of farmland birds across Europe reflect differences in agricultural intensity, which arise largely through differences in political history. Population and range changes were modelled in terms of a number of indices of agricultural intensity. Population declines and range contractions were significantly greater in countries with more intensive agriculture, and significantly higher in the European Union (EU) than in former communist countries. Cereal yield alone explained over 30% of the variation in population trends. The results suggest that recent trends in agriculture have had deleterious and measurable effects on bird populations on a continental scale. We predict that the introduction of EU agricultural policies into former communist countries hoping to accede to the EU in the near future will result in significant declines in the important bird populations there.