Mitigation strategies for conserving bird diversity under climate change scenarios in Europe: The role of forest naturalization.
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There are many possible strategies to promote naturalization in anthropogenic landscapes to mitigate global change effects. We combined large-scale databases available for continental Spain on: (1) distribution of breeding birds, (2) forest inventory stands, (3) land-use cover, (4) 18 global climate models recently developed at local scales, and (5) historical and genetically-based information on the distribution of natural versus planted pine forests, to analyze whether back to nature strategies may help to mitigate biodiversity loss due to climate change. We performed the analysis along environmental and ecological gradients of pine forests in Southern Europe. Models suggested that, naturalization strategies, in this case defined by the replacement of planted pine forests and eucalyptus forests by natural pine forests, could help to mitigate the expected loss of bird diversity due to climate change, but that mitigation efficiency will vary along environmental and ecological gradients. Maximum levels of diversity mitigation were predicted at intermediate levels of naturalization, with lower bird richness in areas where all pine forests were either planted or naturalized. Efficiency also varied spatially, given that both cold-and hot-spots of climate-driven bird diversity loss were identified. Transforming planted forest into natural forest is not a mitigation panacea, and additional regionally-adapted strategies may be identified to mitigate the expected biodiversity loss in forest ecosystems.
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