Identify the regions of the Alps that represent the last refuges where high altitude birds can survive the climatic changes of the coming decades: They cover a total area of about 15,000 square kilometers and need to be protected to protect the overall Alpine biodiversity. This is indicated by the study published in the journal Global Change Biology by a group of researchers from Italy, Switzerland, Slovenia, Austria and Germany, including experts from the BirdLife association and the Italian League for the Protection of Birds (Lipu). The first author is Mattia Brambilla, researcher at the Institute for Environmental Science and Policy at the State University of Milan.
“In the study, we focused on four species of highland birds (ptarmigan, ptarmigan, alpine finch and peephole) because they are most threatened by climate change,” Brambilla told ANSA. “We have assessed their distribution, collecting thousands of reports of their presence from researchers and enthusiasts from 2000 to the present, especially during the period of reproduction when the birds need to find all the resources necessary for the growth of their young without going too far.” to go out of the nest.”.
Using statistical models, the researchers examined how the geographic distribution of these birds might vary under the different climate change scenarios proposed for the period 2041-2070. The results show that all species (except for the peephole) will live in increasingly narrow ranges (from 17% to 59% smaller than current ones) and move to higher altitudes. The regions in which they currently live and in which they may continue to live in the coming decades cover an area of about 15,000 square kilometers, of which 44% are already designated as protected areas.
“Knowing how the distribution of high mountain birds will change and which areas will continue to provide suitable conditions in a warmer future is key to conserving such sensitive species and the unique habitats they inhabit,” comments Brambilla. “These areas represent ‘climatic retreats’ for alpine biodiversity and should be protected from anthropogenic change and habitat destruction.”
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