Scale-dependent homogenization: changes in breeding bird diversity in the Netherlands over a 25-year period

C.A.M. van Turnhout, R.P.B. Foppen, R.S.E.W. Leuven, H. Siepel, H. Esselink

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    Changes in breeding bird diversity in the Netherlands between 1973-1977 and 1998-2000 were evaluated by testing three hypotheses related to the loss of biodiversity: (1) species diversity is declining, (2) biotic homogenization is increasing and (3) rare species are declining more severely than abundant species. Using data collected for two successive national breeding bird atlases, changes in diversity were assessed at different spatial scales (local, regional and national) and among species characteristic for different landscapes (farmland, woodland, heathland, wetland, coastal habitats and urban habitats). National species richness, diversity and equitability had increased between the two atlas periods, with more species increasing than decreasing in range and abundance. Most species in the large groups of woodland and wetland birds showed positive trends, whereas most in the smaller groups of heathland, reed-breeding and meadow birds showed negative trends. However, findings varied between regions and localities. Increases in species richness occurred mainly in regions in the low-lying, western part of the country which were previously relatively poor in species. By contrast, species richness decreased in some previously species-rich regions in the eastern part of the country. This has resulted in a homogenization of breeding bird communities between regions. We advocate the conservation and restoration of regional identity as a priority for landscape planning in the Netherlands. We did not find a clear relation between species abundance and trends, although both rare and very abundant species tended to decrease on average.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)505-516
    JournalBiological Conservation
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


    • biotic homogenization
    • atmospheric deposition
    • north-america
    • urbanization
    • population
    • biodiversity
    • abundance
    • declines
    • britain
    • trends

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