Effects of diversity on thermal niche variation in bird communities under climate change

Emma Liina Marjakangas*, Andrea Santangeli, Alison Johnston, Nicole L. Michel, Karine Princé, Aleksi Lehikoinen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Climate change alters ecological communities by affecting individual species and interactions between species. However, the impacts of climate change may be buffered by community diversity: diverse communities may be more resistant to climate-driven perturbations than simple communities. Here, we assess how diversity influences long-term thermal niche variation in communities under climate change. We use 50-year continental-scale data on bird communities during breeding and non-breeding seasons to quantify the communities’ thermal variability. Thermal variability is measured as the temporal change in the community’s average thermal niche and it indicates community’s response to climate change. Then, we study how the thermal variability varies as a function of taxonomic, functional, and evolutionary diversity using linear models. We find that communities with low thermal niche variation have higher functional diversity, with this pattern being measurable in the non-breeding but not in the breeding season. Given the expected increase in seasonal variation in the future climate, the differences in bird communities’ thermal variability between breeding and non-breeding seasons may grow wider. Importantly, our results suggest that functionally diverse wildlife communities can mitigate effects of climate change by hindering changes in thermal niche variability, which underscores the importance of addressing the climate and biodiversity crises together.

Original languageEnglish
Article number21810
Number of pages11
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 17 Dec 2022


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