Ecological barriers mediate spatiotemporal shifts of bird communities at a continental scale

Emma-Liina Marjakangas, Laura Bosco*, Martijn Versluijs, Yanjie Xu, Andrea Santangeli, Sari Holopainen, Sanna Mäkeläinen, Sergi Herrando, Verena Keller, Petr Voříšek, Lluís Brotons, Alison Johnston, Karine Princé, Stephen G Willis, Karen Aghababyan, Vitalie Ajder, Dawn E Balmer, Taulant Bino, Kerem Ali Boyla, Tomasz ChodkiewiczJuan Carlos Del Moral, Vlatka Dumbović Mazal, Alessandro Ferrarini, Carlos Godinho, Marco Gustin, Mikhail Kalyakin, Peter Knaus, Tatiana Kuzmenko, Åke Lindström, Qenan Maxhuni, Blas Molina, Károly Nagy, Dimitrije Radišić, Saša Rajkov, Draženko Z Rajković, Liutauras Raudoniki, Jovica Sjeničić, Stoycho Stoychev, Tibor Szép, Norbert Teufelbauer, Silvia Ursul, Chris A M van Turnhout, Metodija Velevski, Thomas Vikstrøm, Tomasz Wilk, Olga Voltzit, Ingar Jostein Øien, Christoph Sudfeldt, Bettina Gerlach, Aleksi Lehikoinen

*Corresponding author for this work

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Species' range shifts and local extinctions caused by climate change lead to community composition changes. At large spatial scales, ecological barriers, such as biome boundaries, coastlines, and elevation, can influence a community's ability to shift in response to climate change. Yet, ecological barriers are rarely considered in climate change studies, potentially hindering predictions of biodiversity shifts. We used data from two consecutive European breeding bird atlases to calculate the geographic distance and direction between communities in the 1980s and their compositional best match in the 2010s and modeled their response to barriers. The ecological barriers affected both the distance and direction of bird community composition shifts, with coastlines and elevation having the strongest influence. Our results underscore the relevance of combining ecological barriers and community shift projections for identifying the forces hindering community adjustments under global change. Notably, due to (macro)ecological barriers, communities are not able to track their climatic niches, which may lead to drastic changes, and potential losses, in community compositions in the future.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2213330120
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Issue number23
Early online date30 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jun 2023


  • Ecosystem
  • Distribution shift
  • Birds - physiology
  • Community composition
  • Climate Change
  • Biodiversity
  • Animals
  • Jaccard dissimilarity
  • Macroecology
  • Resistance
  • Forecasting


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