Landscape-wide changes in land use and land cover correlate with, but rarely explain local biodiversity change

Jung, M., Scharlemann, J.P.W., & Rowhani, P. (2020). Landscape-wide changes in land use and land cover correlate with, but rarely explain local biodiversity change. Landscape Ecology 10.1007/s10980-020-01109-2.

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There is an ongoing debate whether local biodiversity is declining and what might drive this change. Changes in land use and land cover (LULC) are suspected to impact local biodiversity. However, there is little evidence for LULC changes beyond the local scale to affect biodiversity across multiple functional groups of species, thus limiting our understanding of the causes of biodiversity change.

Here we investigate whether landscape-wide changes in LULC, defined as either trends in or abrupt changes in magnitude of photosynthetic activity, are driving bird diversity change.

Linking 34 year (1984–2017) time series at 2745 breeding bird survey (BBS) routes across the conterminous United States of America with remotely-sensed Landsat imagery, we assessed for each year what proportion of the landscape surrounding each BBS route changed in photosynthetic activity and tested whether such concomitant or preceding landscape-wide changes explained changes in bird diversity, quantified as relative abundance (geometric mean) and assemblage composition (Bray–Curtis index).

We found that changes in relative abundance was negatively, and assemblage composition positively, correlated with changes in photosynthetic activity within the wider landscape. Furthermore, landscape-wide changes in LULC in preceding years explained on average more variation in bird diversity change than concomitant change. Overall, landscape-wide changes in LULC failed to explain most of the variation in bird diversity change for most BBS routes regardless whether differentiated by functional groups or ecoregions.

Our analyses highlight the influence of preceding and concomitant landscape-wide changes in LULC on biodiversity.

Item Type: Article
Research Programs: Ecosystems Services and Management (ESM)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 21 Sep 2020 06:59
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:33

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