Time turnover of species in bird communities: the role of landscape diversity and climate change

  • O. I. Koshelev Bogdan Khmelnitsky Melitopol State Pedagogical University
  • V. O. Koshelev Bogdan Khmelnitsky Melitopol State Pedagogical University
  • M. P. Fedushko Bogdan Khmelnitsky Melitopol State Pedagogical University
  • O. V. Zhukov Bogdan Khmelnitsky Melitopol State Pedagogical University
Keywords: ecosystem stability, temporal dynamic, estuary, beta-diversity, temperature, precipitation.


The challenge of searching for patterns of species turnover dynamics in communities of living organisms is directly related to solving problems of stability and functioning of ecosystems. Avian communities are an essential structural and functional component of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems which are highly diverse and play an important role in a wide range of ecosystem functions. The issue of changes in the dynamics of amphibiotic landscape complexes, where terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems conjugate, is practically not solved. In this connection, a study was carried out within a landscape system, which presents terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems that were in different degrees of anthropogenic transformation. The dynamics of bird communities was considered in the context of recent global climate change. The investigation was conducted in the landscapes of the south and south-east of Ukraine in the nesting seasons 1988–2018. Within the landscape system associated with the Molochny estuary, the ten most important types of ecosystems were distinguished, which included : agricultural lands, artificial forest belts, meadows, islands and spits, reed beds, urban areas, solonchaks, steppe, cliffs, artificial forests. The temporal turnover of the bird communities was decomposed into two parts: the first term (D1) related to the amount of change in community composition, and the second term (D2) being dependent only on the amount of change in community size sensu its abundance. The contribution ratio of the species and of the environment variable were calculated to identify drivers that influence the turnover measure. The average annual temperature and the sum of annual temperatures were considered as environment variables. The bird metacommunity of the studied landscape system was represented by 132 species from 86 genera, 42 families and 13 orders. During the research period the average annual temperature varied from 9.5 to 12.5 ˚C. and the temperature dynamics were subject to the linear trend. An oscillatory component was also present in the temperature dynamics. The annual rainfall ranged 220–761 mm. A coherent change in precipitation and temperature was observed in the period until 2011. After that, the temperature growth stabilized and the amount of precipitation began to fall sharply. The steppe bird community was represented by an extremely small number of species, but demonstrated the ability to maintain a stable structure for a long time. The main fluctuations of the community were quantitative changes in abundance, while the turnover of species was practically absent. Species of the community replace each other cyclically, but there were no targeted changes in community structure. Temperature and precipitation were the main drivers of the bird community in the steppe. The bird communities on salt marshes were characterized by a stable abundance, but a constant directed turnover of species. Reduced water levels and the disappearance of islands in the salt marshes increased the risk of threats from predators, which could lead to a decrease in the abundance of some species. The islands and spits were characterized by high species turnover with quasi-cyclical population dynamics. The main feature of the community dynamics was a decrease in the role of precipitation and an increase in the role of the time factor. The role of temperature remained stably low. The species richness of bird communities in agrarian lands was higher than in steppe communities. The turnover measure was significant because of the increased abundance of Alauda arvensis. Over time, the role of precipitation in the community dynamics has been decreasing and the role of time has been increasing. The value of temperature varied, but was at a stationary level. The turnover of species was compensated by an increase in the abundance of bird communities. The obtained results are in line with findings indicating that despite more stable land use intensities in recent years, climate change has not overtaken land use intensities as the main driver of bird population dynamics.


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