The potential role of drove roads as connecting corridors for birds between Natura 2000 sites
EntityUAM. Departamento de Ecología
10.3390/birds2030023Birds 2.3 (2021): 314-328
ProjectComunidad de Madrid. P2018/EMT-4338/Remedinal TE-CM
SubjectsAgrarian Landscapes; Connectivity; Fragmentation; Green Infrastructure; Habitat; Human Impac; Metacommunities; Nestedness; Urban Ecology; Biología y Biomedicina / Biología
Rights© 2021 by the authors
Esta obra está bajo una Licencia Creative Commons Atribución 4.0 Internacional.
Ecological connectivity among protected Natura 2000 sites is a priority for conservation in Europe due to the increasing pressure on biodiversity from human activities and climate change. Drove roads, the traditional paths used to move livestock through the territory, have been proposed as potential ecological corridors due to their large extent, continuous nature and centennial protection from ploughing and urbanization, which allows the persistence of some tree cover and natural habitats in them. Bird communities were sampled during the reproductive season along 19 drove road transects in agrarian landscapes between Natura 2000 sites, all of them around the conurbation of Madrid (Madrid Region, Spain). Bird community nestedness was assessed by NODF computation followed by significance estimation by aleatorization, and factors explaining species richness and bird abundance were analyzed through General Linear Models fitted with environmental variables measured on official vegetation maps and orthophotos. Bird communities in drove roads were significantly nested, showing high predictability in the order of species loss from better preserved sites to those under stronger environmental pressures. Accordingly, Poisson regression showed bird richness to decrease strongly with distance from the closest Natura 2000 site and to increase with forest cover at the landscape and at the drove road scales. Bird abundance increased strongly with distance from urban areas and motorways, and it was slightly higher in areas with more forest cover and in transects with less bare ground. These results, and the higher relevance detected for landscape scale variables (500 m around transects) than for those at the drove road (50 m) scale, show that (i) they can only play a secondary role as habitat for nesting birds but (ii) they may add to the Green Infrastructure strategy as facilitators or stepping stones for bird communities if the surrounding landscape is favorable for them
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