Protected areas help waterbirds adapt to climate change

October 21, 2020

Climate change pushes species distribution areas northward. However, the expansion of species ranges is not self-evident due to e.g. habitat degradation and unsustainable harvesting caused by human activities. A new study led from the University of Turku, Finland, suggests that protected areas can facilitate wintering waterbird adaptation to climate warming by advancing their range shifts towards north.

Researchers of the new study investigated the role of protected areas for the range shifts of wintering waterbirds in Europe and North Africa. Species communities were noted to shift faster inside protected areas compared to other areas.

- Range shifts of waterbirds have been over 40 percent faster inside protected areas compared to outside areas. On average, species communities have shifted inside protected areas c. 90 kilometres in 25 years, says Postdoctoral Researcher Elie Gaget from the University of Turku.

Protected areas not only increased the colonisation towards northern areas, but also prevented local extinctions on the southern range of species compared to non-protected areas. This suggests that protected areas can contribute to expand the overall range of species.

In addition to single protected areas, the protected area network as a whole influenced the spread of waterbird species. Shifts in species communities were faster in areas with a dense protected area network compared to areas where the network was sparse.

- Our findings highlight that protected area networks, historically established to fight habitat degradation and over-exploitation of natural resources, are now also important to mitigate the negative effects of climate warming on biodiversity, says Professor Jon Brommer from the University of Turku.

The study is part of an international collaboration that utilised tens of thousands of waterbird surveys covering 97 species from 39 countries during 25 years. The international coordination of surveys has been conducted by Wetlands International and the research was published in the scientific journal of Conservation Biology.

University of Turku

Related Climate Warming Articles from Brightsurf:

In a warming climate, can birds take the heat?
We don't know precisely how hot things will get as climate change marches on, but animals in the tropics may not fare as well as their temperate relatives.

Climate-friendly cooling to help ease global warming
A new IIASA-led study shows that coordinated international action on energy-efficient, climate-friendly cooling could avoid as much as 600 billion tonnes CO2 equivalent of greenhouse gas emissions in this century.

Past rapid warming levels in the Arctic associated with widespread climate changes
Using Greenland ice cores, new research is the first to confirm the longstanding assumption that climate changes between the tropics and the Arctic were synchronised during the last glacial period.

Spawning fish and embryos most vulnerable to climate's warming waters
Spawning fish and embryos are far more vulnerable to Earth's warming waters than fish in other life stages, according to a new study, which uniquely relates fish physiological tolerance to temperature across the lifecycles of nearly 700 fish species.

Warming climate is changing where birds breed
Spring is in full swing. Trees are leafing out, flowers are blooming, bees are buzzing, and birds are singing.

Study shows wetter climate is likely to intensify global warming
New study indicates the increase in rainfall forecast by global climate models is likely to hasten the release of carbon dioxide from tropical soils, further intensifying global warming by adding to human emissions of this greenhouse gas into Earth's atmosphere.

How much does black carbon contribute to climate warming?
Black carbon particles -- more commonly known as soot -- absorb heat in the atmosphere.

Old methane sources less important in modern climate warming
The atmospheric release of ancient stores of methane in thawing permafrost or from beneath Arctic ice may not impact future climate warming as strongly as previously believed, a new study finds.

Climate warming disrupts tree seed production
Research involving the University of Liverpool has revealed the effect of climate warming on the complex interactions between tree masting and the insects that eat their seeds.

Small marsupials in Australia may struggle to adjust to a warming climate
Researchers suggest that climate change may hurt the survival chances of an Australian marsupial.

Read More: Climate Warming News and Climate Warming Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to