Temperature niche composition change inside and outside protected areas under a climate warming

Leena Hintsanen*, Emma Liina Marjakangas, Andrea Santangeli, Alison Johnston, Aleksi Lehikoinen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Conservation of biodiversity relies heavily on protected areas but their role and effectiveness under a warming climate is still debated. We estimated the climate-driven changes in the temperature niche compositions of bird communities inside and outside protected areas in southern Canada. We hypothesized that communities inside protected areas include a higher proportion of cold-dwelling species than communities outside protected areas. We also hypothesized that communities shift to warm-dwelling species more slowly inside protected areas than outside. To study community changes, we used large-scale and long-term (1997–2019) data from the Breeding Bird Survey of Canada. To describe the temperature niche compositions of bird communities, we calculated the community temperature index (CTI) annually for each community inside and outside protected areas. Generally, warm-dwelling species dominated communities with high CTI values. We modeled temporal changes in CTI as a function of protection status with linear mixed-effect models. We also determined which species contributed most to the temporal changes in CTI with a jackknife approach. As anticipated, CTI was lower inside protected areas than outside. However, contrary to our expectation, CTI increased faster over time inside than outside protected areas and warm-dwelling species contributed most to CTI change inside protected areas. These results highlight the ubiquitous impacts of climate warming. Currently, protected areas can aid cold-dwelling species by providing habitat, but as the climate warms, the communities’ temperature compositions inside protected areas quickly begin to resemble those outside protected areas, suggesting that protected areas delay the impacts of climate warming on cold-dwelling species.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere14134
Number of pages11
JournalConservation Biology
Issue number5
Early online date11 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2023


  • Breeding bird survey
  • Climate warming
  • Community temperature index
  • Population trend
  • Protected areas


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