Title: European farmland bird distribution explained by remotely sensed phenological indices.
Citation: ENVIRONMENTAL MODELING & ASSESSMENT vol. Volume 16 no. 4 p. 385-399
Publisher: SPRINGER
Publication Year: 2011
JRC N°: JRC66749
ISSN: 1420-2026
URI: http://www.springerlink.com/content/1420-2026/16/4/
DOI: 10.1007/s10666-011-9251-9
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: Birds are important components of biodiversity conservation since they are capable of indicating changes in the general status of wildlife and of the countryside. The Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme (PECBM) has been launched by the BirdLife Partnership in Europe, where the European Bird Census Council has been collecting data from 20 independent breeding bird survey programs across Europe over the last 25 years. These data show dramatic declines in European farmland birds. We suggest that seasonal characteristics of vegetation cover derived from high temporal resolution remote sensing images could facilitate the monitoring the suitability of farmland bird habitats, and that these indicators may be a better choice for monitoring than climate data. We used redundancy analysis to link the PECBM data of the estimated number of farmland birds in Europe to a set of phenological and climatic indicators and to the biogeographic regions of Europe. Variance partitioning was used to account for the variation explained by the phenological and climate variables and by the area of the environmental strata individually, to define the pure effect of the variables, and to extract the total explained variance. The analysis revealed high statistical significance (p<0.001) of the correlations between species and environment. Phenological indices explained 38% of the variance in community composition of the 23 farmland bird species, whereas climate explained 30% of the variance. After partitioning the other variables as covariables, the pure effect of phenology, climate, and environmental strata were 16%, 8%, and 16%, respectively. Based on the probability results, we suggest that phenological indicators derived from remote sensing may supply better indicators for continental scale biodiversity studies than climate only. In addition, these indicators are cost and time effective, are on continuous scale, and are readily repeatable on a large spatial coverage while supplying standardized results.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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