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Global impacts of climate change on avian functional diversity

Stewart, Peter S.; Voskamp, Alke; Santini, Luca; Biber, Matthias F.; Devenish, Adam J.M.; Hof, Christian; Willis, Stephen G.; Tobias, Joseph A.

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Peter Stewart
PGR Student Doctor of Philosophy

Alke Voskamp

Luca Santini

Matthias F. Biber

Adam J.M. Devenish

Christian Hof

Joseph A. Tobias


Climate change is predicted to drive geographical range shifts, leading to fluctuations in species richness (SR) worldwide. However, the effect of these changes on functional diversity (FD) remains unclear, in part because comprehensive species-level trait data are generally lacking at global scales. Here, we use morphometric and ecological traits for 8268 bird species to estimate the impact of climate change on avian FD. We show that future bird assemblages are likely to undergo substantial shifts in trait structure, with a magnitude of change greater than predicted from SR alone, and a direction of change varying according to geographical location and trophic guild. For example, our models predict that FD of insect predators will increase at higher latitudes with concurrent losses at mid-latitudes, whereas FD of seed dispersing birds will fluctuate across the tropics. Our findings highlight the potential for climate change to drive continental-scale shifts in avian FD with implications for ecosystem function and resilience.


Stewart, P. S., Voskamp, A., Santini, L., Biber, M. F., Devenish, A. J., Hof, C., …Tobias, J. A. (2022). Global impacts of climate change on avian functional diversity. Ecology Letters, 25(3), 673-685.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 18, 2022
Online Publication Date Feb 24, 2022
Publication Date 2022-03
Deposit Date Aug 3, 2022
Publicly Available Date Aug 3, 2022
Journal Ecology Letters
Print ISSN 1461-023X
Electronic ISSN 1461-0248
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 25
Issue 3
Pages 673-685


Published Journal Article (2.1 Mb)

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Copyright Statement
© 2022 The Authors. Ecology Letters published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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