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Viability of bird metapopulations

Objective

Problems to be solved
By signing the Convention on Biodiversity in 1992, the European Union and its Member States affirmed that conservation of biological diversity is a common concern of mankind. The main contribution of the European Union to fulfil the Convention's requirements has been "the Birds Directive" and "the Habitats Directive". A practical problem that has often arisen when trying to implement these directives into practical policies, in particular at the local level, has been the lack of practical guidelines. In many areas of Europe large conflicts exist about the utilisation of the remaining natural areas. Land use changes resulting in habitat fragmentation or degradation are also among the most important threats for many species included in "the Birds directive". Thus, there is a need for clearer guidelines how the landscape should be structured in order to secure viable populations of threatened and endangered species. As a consequence of "the Habitats directive" a legal foundation has been founded for setting up a network of sites in order to maintain or restore natural or semi-natural habitats and species of Community interest (the so-called Natura 2000 network). It is important when designing such a network that it is best suited for conserving the biological resources. European birds are among the most well studied taxa in the world, partly due to the great effort over years of dedicated and skilled amateur ornithologists. This project aims to develop methods in assessing population viability from such data sets, which can be used to identify the most vulnerable bird species. Since birds as a group are of great public interest and may also serve as indicators for species diversity in other taxa as well, such information should be included in the planning of reserve networks such as Natura 2000.ObjectivesThe purpose with the present project is to suggest general procedures for estimating the size of minimum viable bird populations. We will do this by integrating theorists and empiricists to develop applicable, fairly, general models, and to confront those with high-quality data and experimentally tractable model systems. We will use the results of these analyses to derive guidelines for how the landscape should be structured to reduce the risk of extinction in spatially structured populations of threatened or endangered species.
Expected impacts
The project is expected to have three major impacts:
(i) It will provide data on how large areas that should be considered as a unit when managing a threatened or endangered species.
(ii) The project will be one of the first that experimentally examine some of the practical recommendations from conservation biological theory for the management of fragmented bird populations. Hopefully, these analyses, combining theoretical, descriptive and theoretical work, will result in some "rules of thumb" for management of such bird populations. And, finally, (iii) the project will illustrate the importance and potential significance for conservation of securing and maintaining long-term data set, often collected in close collaboration with devoted amateurs.

By signing the Convention on Biodiversity in 1992, the European Union and its Member States affirmed that conservation of biological diversity is a common concern of mankind. The main contribution of the European Union to fulfil the Convention's requirements has been "the Birds Directive" and "the Habitats Directive". A practical problem that has often arisen when trying to implement these directives into practical policies, in particular at the local level, has been the lack of practical guidelines. In many areas of Europe large conflicts exist about the utilisation of the remaining natural areas. Land use changes resulting in habitat fragmentation or degradation are also among the most important threats for many species included in "the Birds directive". Thus, there is a need for clearer guidelines how the landscape should be structured in order to secure viable populations of threatened and endangered species. As a consequence of "the Habitats directive" a legal foundation has been founded for setting up a network of sites in order to maintain or restore natural or semi-natural habitats and species of Community interest (the so-called Natura 2000 network). It is important when designing such a network that it is best suited for conserving the biological resources. European birds are among the most well-studied taxa in the world, partly due to the great effort over years of dedicated and skilled amateur ornithologists. This project aims to develop methods in assessing population viability from such data sets, which can be used to identify the most vulnerable bird species. Since birds as a group are of great public interest and may also serve as indicators for species diversity in other taxa as well, such information should be included in the planning of reserve networks such as Natura 2000.

Expected impacts
The project is expected to have three major impacts: (i) It will provide data on how large areas that should be considered as a unit when managing a threatened or endangered species. (ii) The project will be one of the first that experimentally examine some of the practical recommendations from conservation biological theory for the management of fragmented bird populations. Hopefully, these analyses, combining theoretical, descriptive and theoretical work, will result in some "rules of thumb" for management of such bird populations. And, finally, (iii) the project will illustrate the importance and potential significance for conservation of securing and maintaining longterm data-set, often collected in close collaboration with devoted amateurs.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts

Coordinator

NORWEGIAN UNIVERSITY OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Address
Hogskoleringen 5
7491 Trondheim
Norway

Participants (4)

CENTRE NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE SCIENTIFIQUE
France
Address
Route De Mende 1919
34293 Montpellier
NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE - MINISTRY OF ENVIRONMENT AND ENERGY
Denmark
Address
Kalo Grenaavej 12
8410 Roende
UNIVERSITAIRE INSTELLING ANTWERPEN - UNIVERSITEIT ANTWERPEN
Belgium
Address
Universiteitsplein 1
2610 Wilrijk (Antwerpen)
UNIVERSITE PIERRE ET MARIE CURIE - PARIS VI
France
Address
Quai Saint Bernard 7, Case A7 237
75252 Paris