Modelling the recent and potential future spatial distribution of the Ring Ouzel (Turdus torquatus) and Blackbird (T. merula) in Switzerland

Abstract

We present here a multiscale modelling approach to predict the current and future spatial distribution of Ring Ouzel (Turdus torquatus) and Blackbird (T. merula) in Switzerland. Species distribution models (SDMs) are applied on three different scales in order to analyse the scale-dependency of predictors that describe the species’ realised niche. While the models on the macro- and mesoscales (grid of 100 and 1 km2, respectively) cover the entire country, our small-scale models are based on a small set of territories. Ring Ouzels occur at altitudes above 1000 m a.s.l. only, while Blackbirds occur from the lowlands up to the timberline. Although both species coexist on the macro- and mesoscales, a direct niche overlap on territory scale is rare. Small-scale differences in vegetation cover and structure seem to play a dominant role in habitat selection. On the macroscale, however, we observed a high dependency on bioclimatic variables that mainly represent the altitudinal range and the related forest structure preferred by both species. Applying the models to climate change scenarios, we predict a decline of suitable habitat for the Ring Ouzel with a simultaneous median altitudinal shift of 440 m until 2070. In contrast, the Blackbird is predicted to benefit from higher temperatures and expand its range to higher elevations. Based on the species distribution models we (1) demonstrate the scale-dependency of environmental predictors, (2) quantify the scale-dependent habitat requirements of Blackbird and Ring Ouzel and (3) predict the altitudinal range shift of both species as related to climate change scenarios.

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Acknowledgments

This study has been funded by the German Academic Foreign Exchange Service (DAAD) and was supported by the Swiss Ornithological Institute at Sempach, Switzerland. We are grateful to the colleagues of the Swiss Ornithological Institute for supporting our work, especially Christian Marti and Niklaus Zbinden, who provided tremendous support during this study. This research has benefited from correspondence with Christoph Frei (ETH Zürich). Finally, we want to thank Katrin Böhning-Gaese, Jutta von dem Bussche and an anonymous reviewer for their constructive comments on the manuscript. We confirm that we have not performed any experiments that do not comply with Swiss laws.

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Correspondence to Boris Schröder.

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Communicated by F. Bairlein.

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von dem Bussche, J., Spaar, R., Schmid, H. et al. Modelling the recent and potential future spatial distribution of the Ring Ouzel (Turdus torquatus) and Blackbird (T. merula) in Switzerland. J Ornithol 149, 529–544 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10336-008-0295-9

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Keywords

  • Climate change scenarios
  • Habitat preferences
  • Scale dependency
  • Species distribution modelling
  • Turdus sp