Global patterns and predictors of avian population density
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AuthorSantini, Luca; Tobias, Joseph A.; Callaghan, Corey; Gallego-Zamorano, Juan; Benítez-López, Ana
BirdsClimate conditionsCooperative breedingMigratoryNesting behaviourPredictive ecologyTerritoriality
Santini, L., Tobias, J. A., Callaghan, C., Gallego-Zamorano, J., & Benítez-López, A. (2023). Global patterns and predictors of avian population density. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 00, 1–16. [https://doi.org/10.1111/geb.13688]
SponsorshipAgencia de Innovacion y Desarrollo de Andalucia EMERGIA20_00252; H2020 Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions 891052; Ministry of Education, Universities and Research (MIUR)
Aim: How population density varies across animal species in the context of environ- mental gradients, and associated migratory strategies, remains poorly understood. The recent influx of avian trait data and population density estimates allows these patterns to be described and explored in unprecedented detail. This study aims to identify the main macroecological drivers of population density in birds. Location: Global. Time period: 1970–2021. Major taxa studied: Birds (Aves). Methods: We collated a dataset of 5072 local population density estimates for 1853 species and modelled population density as a function of trait and environmental predictors in a Bayesian framework accounting for phylogenetic and spatial autocor- relation. We explored the influence of body mass, diet, primary lifestyle, mating sys- tem, nesting behaviour, territoriality, and migratory behaviour on population density, accounting for a range of environmental variables, including preferred habitat type, primary productivity, precipitation and temperature. Based on this empirical baseline, we then predicted the mean population density for 9089 species of birds and esti- mated global geographic patterns of bird population density. Results: Population density was lower in species with larger body mass and higher trophic levels, and also declined in territorial species, migratory species, brood para- sites and species inhabiting resource-poor habitat types (e.g., deserts). Conversely, population density increased in cooperative breeders. Environmental drivers were most influential for migratory birds, with precipitation and temperature both associ- ated with higher population density. Overall, bird population densities were higher at lower latitudes. Main conclusions: Our results support previous findings on the role of body mass, diet and environmental gradients, but also reveal novel species-specific drivers of avian densities related to reproduction, migration and resource- holding behaviour. Substantial fine-scale variation remains unexplained. We provide a global dataset of population density predictions for use in macroecological analyses and conservation assessments.