Modelling Large-Scale Patterns in Mountain Bird Diversity and Distributions

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Book Section
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Brambilla, Mattia; Betts, Matthew G.; Bradter, Ute; Kim, Hankyu; Laiolo, Paola; Sattler, Thomas. 2023. Modelling Large-Scale Patterns in Mountain Bird Diversity and Distributions. In: Ecology and Conservation of Mountain Birds. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 8.296-335. doi:


Modelling distributions of species and communities is a key task for modern ecological research and conservation planning. Modelling mountain birds has specific challenges: mountain environments are characterized by steep gradients, where conditions in terms of climate, topography and habitat change markedly over relatively small scales. Moreover, mountain bird species are often less comprehensively monitored than lowland species, resulting in a general paucity of information for many species. We review the approaches to deal with these challenges in order to increase model accuracy to enhance ecological research and to improve conservation planning in mountain environments. We discuss how consistency between species occurrence and climate is tested, and what approaches help to assess distribution dynamics. We assess the current strategies to model microclimate and microhabitat, and how they could be incorporated in distribution modelling over increasingly larger extents. We discuss the pros and cons of (and the potential options for) modelling multiple species vs. community traits to get broad scale multi-species projections which are useful to evaluate the general persistence and resilience of mountain bird communities. Finally, the opportunities presented by Citizen Science data to contribute to monitoring and modelling mountain bird populations are assessed.
Keywords: climate change, climate envelope models, conservation, microclimate, model evaluation, remote sensing, spatial autocorrelation, species distribution models, species interactions