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More and more generalists: two decades of changes in the European avifauna

  • Isabelle Le Viol
  • Frederic Jiguet
  • Lluis Brotons
  • Sergi Herrando
  • Åke Lindström
  • James W. Pearce-Higgins
  • Jiri Reif
  • Chris Van Turnhout
  • Vincent Devictor
Publishing year: 2012
Language: English
Pages: 780-782
Publication/Series: Biology letters
Volume: 8
Issue: 5
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Royal Society

Abstract english

Biotic homogenization (BH) is a process whereby some species (losers) are systematically replaced by others (winners). While this process has been related to the effects of anthropogenic activities, whether and how BH is occurring across regions and the role of native species as a driver of BH has hardly been investigated. Here, we examine the trend in the community specialization index (CSI) for 234 native species of breeding birds at 10 111 sites in six European countries from 1990 to 2008. Unlike many BH studies, CSI uses abundance information to estimate the balance between generalist and specialist species in local assemblages. We show that bird communities are more and more composed of native generalist species across regions, revealing a strong, ongoing BH process. Our result suggests a rapid and non-random change in community composition at a continental scale is occurring, most likely driven by anthropogenic activities.


  • Ecology
  • habitat specialization
  • community specialization index
  • breeding bird
  • survey
  • macroecology


  • Centre for Animal Movement Research
  • ISSN: 1744-9561
Åke Lindström
E-mail: ake [dot] lindstrom [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se



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