Range compression of migratory passerines in wintering grounds of the Western Mediterranean: conservation prospects


Because migrant birds occur in different parts of the world in different seasons, their numbers may be limited by the size of the smallest area they inhabit during the year. In addition, restricted ranges make populations more susceptible to local perturbations such that range size is frequently considered a correlate of species vulnerability. Despite this, little is known about the balance between seasonal ranges in the migrant populations of partially migratory species. These migrants are difficult to segregate from sedentary conspecifics in winter grounds and thus the extent of their ranges is difficult to assess. Here, we studied the extent of potential breeding and wintering ranges of 10 partial migratory passerines moving to winter in the Iberian Peninsula and the Maghreb. After testing migratory connectivity of the individual species, we used niche modelling to calculate the extent of potential breeding and wintering ranges in 1,113 pairs of ring recoveries linking individuals between breeding and wintering localities. The results indicate that most species show migratory connectivity and that all of them show range compression in winter relative to the breeding range, with scores ranging between 19% and 58% (mean 37%) of breeding ranges. We discuss the importance of non-breeding grounds for conserving migratory passerines in the Western Mediterranean Basin, an area under pressure from climate change and agricultural intensification.

Bird Conservation International