Date of online publication: Monday 27 August 2007
After a PhD on the conservation biology of the little bustard in agricultural plains of western France, I arrived in 2000 at the CRBPO to re-start the national breeding bird survey (named ’STOC’). Associated research topics clearly consider species fate and community dynamics, within a framework of conservation biology in the face of climate and land use changes. We develop various metrics on community composition (habitat and thermal specialization, trophic level) and study different facets of diversity (taxonomic, phylogenetic and functional).
The Breeding Bird Survey is based on point counts distributed within randomly sampled squares. This scheme constitutes a real national reference network on the status and fate of common breeding birds. The spatial and temporal extends of the survey allow to study large-scale and long-term variation in species abundance, species richness, local extinction and turnover rates, and to estimate the impacts of changes in climate or habitat composition and structure (fragmentation, intensification).
The long temporal dataset collected by the BBS is used to estimate the trend in abundance of 175 common breeding birds. Many of them are declining, especially habitat and climate specialists. Combining species indices into indicators allows studying the global trends of species sharing ecological characters, such as species specialized in one habitat type (farmland, woodland, urban...). These indicators are well recognized biodiversity indicators at the EU level (see Gregory et al. 2007, 2009). The BBS counts also provide descriptions of local bird community, which can be further compared across spatial and temporal sampling scales, also featuring various biological metrics such as taxonomic (species richness), phylogenetic and functional diversity (see Devictor et al. 2010 Ecol Lett). These dataset are also of value to model the phenology of contacts during the breeding season, and the potential temporal shifts according to climatic conditions, to tackle the role of long-term trend and/or yearly adjustment to climate of breeding timing in driving species fate.
By using spatial interpolation methods, modelling the spatial autocorrelation existing within the data, we produce national maps of relative abundance, which is a real dynamic atlas map. We are currently working on the potential to produce such maps at a multi-national level. The final output would be to be able to map the variations in the Farmland Bird Indicator. Using the same approach, we can model the spatial variations in species richness (obtained using capture-recapture fameworks), phylogenetic or functional diversity, and study how these biological metrics vary in space and time according to pressures of global changes.
Understanding the variations in species abundance, community structure and dynamics (turnover, local extinction rates) is necessary to the further development of biodiversity scenarios.
All results of the French BBS are available at http://www2.mnhn.fr/vigie-nature/sp...
Part of my researches is dedicated to rare and/or endangered species, to the development of models providing useful conservation tools, or to field work using technologies to better understand the temporal use of space. Most projects relate to:
To estimate the potential impacts of global change on the breeding or winter ranges of European birds, we use species distribution models and various climatic and land use scenarios (from IPCC 2007) in ensemble forecast frameworks - to account for uncertainties in climate predictions and modelling tools. By modelling the current distribution, and projecting it under future predicted environmental conditions, we obtain potential future distributions, to be compared to current predicted ones. This approach has been widely used, and current challenges are to integrate dispersal and population dynamics within distribution models, to consider various trophic levels or interacting species and to upscale predictions at the community level.
I also work with agronomists, economists and mathematicians to develop biodiversity scenarios, using results from the BBS (eg response of species abundance or bird community trophic level to agriculture / forestry practices, landscape fragmentation...) and predictions from species distribution models under climate and land use scenarios. Such biodiversity scenarios are therefater to be considered under economic viability constraints. These researches are supported by an ANR (Systerra, FarmBird) and a FRB Scenarios project (Mobilis).