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Seasonality in the spatial distribution of birds during breeding and overwintering periods


Article title

Seasonality in spatial distribution: climate and land use have contrasting effects on the species richness of breeding and wintering birds

Author (affiliation)

Kazuhiro Kawamura(a), Yuichi Yamaura(b), Masayuki Senzaki(a), Mutsuyuki Ueda(c), Futosi Nakamura(a)

(a) Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan.

(b) Shikoku Research Center, FFPRI, Kochi, Japan.

(c) Japan Bird Research Association, Fuchu, Tokyo, Japan.

Publication Journal

Ecology and Evolution、9:7549-7561、Wiley、June 2019 DOI:10.1002/ece3.5286( External link )

Content introduction

It is important to understand the factors that determine the spatial distribution of animals for preserving biodiversity. The importance of climate, topography, and land use has been demonstrated in previous studies. However, to the best of our knowledge, the seasonality of spatial distribution has not yet been investigated.

In the present study, we analyzed nationwide data collected from field surveys of birds and separately investigated the factors that determine species richness during breeding (spring) and overwintering periods. We considered land-dwelling bird species as the target, which were divided into species living in forest and grassland sites. Accordingly, we observed that mean annual temperature substantially influences species richness in both forest and grassland sites, but there was seasonal variation. In other words, during the breeding season, species richness tended to be high in high-altitude and northern areas; however, during the winter, it tended to be higher in warm southern areas. We predicted species richness across Japan using a model that incorporated the effects of climate, topography, and land use and demonstrated a contrasting distribution pattern during the breeding and overwintering periods (Figure1).

Because many bird species migrate seasonally, the results obtained in this study, including the changes in the distribution of birds in Japan during the breeding and overwintering periods, are considered attributable to such seasonal migration. Northern and southern areas should be preserved as breeding and overwintering sites, respectively, each playing a role in preservation according to the seasons. There is a large seasonal variation across Japan; therefore, it is crucial to clarify seasonal changes in the spatial distribution of non-avian species in the future.

Fig.1: Prediction image of the species richness of forest

Fig.1: Prediction image of the species richness of forest (upper panels) and grassland birds (lower panels) during the breeding (left panels) and overwintering (right panels) periods.

On the basis of the model generated in this study, species richness per 4 ha area was predicted using climate, topography, and land use information. The white areas represent locations that could not be predicted using this model.