Brambilla, M., J. Resano-Mayor, R. Arlettaz, C. Bettega, A. Binggeli, G. Bogliani, V. Braunisch, C. Celada, D. Chamberlain, J. C. Carricaburu, M. del Mar Delgado, P. Fontanilles, P. Kmecl, F. Korner, R. Lindner, P. Pedrini, J. Pöhacker, B. Rubinic, C. Schano, D. Scridel, E. Strinella, N. Teufelbauer & M de Gabriel Hernando (2020)

Potential distribution of a climate sensitive species, the White-winged Snowfinch Montifringilla nivalis in Europe.

Further information

Bird Conservation International



The White-winged Snowfinch Montifringilla nivalis nivalis is assumed to be highly threatened by climate change, but this high elevation species has been little studied and the current breeding distribution is accurately known only for a minor portion of its range. Here, we provide a detailed and spatially explicit identification of the potentially suitable breeding areas for the Snowfinch. We modelled suitable areas in Europe and compared them with the currently known distribution. We built a distribution model using 14,574 records obtained during the breeding period that integrated climatic, topographic and land-cover variables, working at a 2-km spatial resolution with MaxEnt. The model performed well and was very robust; average annual temperature was the most important occurrence predictor (optimum between c.-3°C and 0°; unsuitable conditions below -10° and above 5°). The current European breeding range estimated by BirdLife International was almost three times greater than that classified as potentially suitable by our model. Discrepancies between our model and the distribution estimated by BirdLife International were particularly evident in eastern Europe, where the species is poorly monitored. Southern populations are likely more isolated and at major risk because of global warming. These differences have important implications for the supposed national responsibility for conservation of the species and highlight the need for new investigations on the species in the eastern part of its European range.
keywords: species distribution model, climate change, mountains