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Habitat specialization explains avian persistence in tidal marshes [Ecosphere]

Keywords : climate change, niche, specialism, species conservation, tidal marsh

par Frédéric Magné - publié le

Habitat specialists are declining at alarming rates worldwide, driving biodiversity loss of the earth’s next mass extinction. Specialist organisms maintain smaller functional niches than their generalist counterparts, and tradeoffs exist between these contrasting life history strategies, creating conservation challenges for specialist taxa. There is little work, however, explicitly quantifying “specialization” ; such information is necessary for the development of focused conservation strategies in light of the rapidly changing landscapes of the modern world. In this study, we tested whether habitat specialism explains the persistence of breeding bird populations in tidal marshes of the northeastern United States. We used the North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) together with contemporary marsh bird surveys to develop a Marsh Specialization Index (MSI) for 106 bird species that regularly use tidal marshes during the breeding season.(...)

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