Rock Buntings find refuge in avalanche tracks

​Do the avalanche tracks create suitable habitats for open-land birds in mountain forests?
In the mountains, open and semi-open habitats found above the closed forest limits host relatively high bird diversity. Those habitats, especially the transition zone between forests and alpine grasslands, are highly heterogeneous and are composed of mosaics of shrubs, rocks, trees and grassland patches (Nagy & Grabherr 2009). In Europe, the decrease in agro-pastoral activities and climate change led to an upshift in forest elevational limits (Gehrig-Fasel et al. 2007). Encroachment of closed forests at higher elevations is a threat to open-land birds in the mountains (Chamberlain et al. 2013) and we have already observed a 10% decline in mountain bird specialists between 2002 and 2014 (Lehikoinen et al. 2019).

Natural disturbance to forests caused by snow avalanche activities have been shown to create and maintain open and heterogeneous habitats within mountain forests (Figure 1) (Bebi et al. 2009). We decided to assess if these habitats created by avalanches could be suitable for semi-open-land mountain birds which currently remains unknown. SEE THE COMPLETE BLOG ON:

Avalanche tracks are key habitats for the Rock Bunting Emberiza cia in the Alps. Requena, E., Alba, R., Rosselli, D. & Chamberlain, D. 2022 Ardeola: 203-217. doi: 

Emmanuel Requena currently works as an intern at the University of Turin and is a master student at the University of Bourgogne Franche-Comté. He is interested in alpine ecosystems and, how natural and anthropogenic disturbances can influence them.

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