Congruence between breeding and wintering biodiversity hotspots: A case study in farmlands of Western Poland

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Farmland landscapes are recognized as important ecosystems, not only for their rich biodiversity but equally so for the human beings who live and work in these places. However, biodiversity varies among sites (spatial change) and among seasons (temporal change). In this work, we tested the hypothesis that bird diversity hotspots distribution for breeding is congruent with bird diversity hotspots for wintering season, focusing also the representation of protected areas for the conservation of local hotspots. We proposed a framework based on the use of species richness, functional diversity, and evolutionary distinctiveness to characterize avian communities.

Although our findings show that the spatial distribution of local bird hotspots differed slightly between seasons, the protected areas’ representation was similar in both seasons. Protected areas covered 65% of the most important zones for breeding and 71% for the wintering season in the farmland studied. Functional diversity showed similar patterns as did bird species richness, but this measure can be most effective for highlighting differences on bird community composition. Evolutionary distinctiveness was less congruent with species richness and functional diversity, among seasons.

Our findings suggest that inter-seasonal spatial congruence of local hotspots can be considered as suitable areas upon which to concentrate greater conservation efforts. However, even considering the relative congruence of avian diversity metrics at a local spatial scale, simultaneous analysis of protected areas while inter-seasonally considering hotspots, can provide a more complete representation of ecosystems for assessing the conservation status and designating priority areas.

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