Bowler, D., R. L. Richter, D. Eskildsen, J. Kamp, C. M. Moshøj, J. Reif, N. Strebel, S. Trautmann & P. Vorísek (2021)

Geographic variation in the population trends of common breeding birds across central Europe.

Further information

Basic Appl. Ecol. 56: 72–84



Recent declines of many European bird species have been linked with various environmental changes, especially land-use change and climate change. Since the intensity of these environmental changes varies among different countries, we can expect geographic variation in bird population trends. Here, we compared the population trends of bird species among neighbouring countries within central Europe (Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland) between 1990 and 2016 and examined trait-associations with population trends at both national and international scales. We found that Denmark had the highest proportion of declining species while Switzerland had the lowest. Species associated with farmland had negative trends, but the effect size tended to differ among countries. A preference for higher temperature was positively associated with population trends and its effect size was similar among countries. Species that were increasing across all four countries were associated with forest; while species that were decreasing across all countries were long-distance migrants or farmland birds. Our results suggest that land-use change tends to be a more regionally variable driver of common bird population trends than climate change in central Europe. For species declining across all countries, international action plans could provide a framework for more efficient conservation. However, farmland birds likely need both, coordinated international action (e.g. through a green agricultural policy) to tackle their widespread declines as well as regionally different approaches to address varying national effect trajectories.