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The influence of river flow on the distribution and community organisation of river birds

Royan, Alexander (2015)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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River flow is a major driver of community dynamics in riverine-floodplain ecosystems. Flow-induced disturbance can have large impacts on taxonomic groups at higher trophic levels such as birds. However, our understanding of river flow-avian relationships is constrained by a failure to focus on multiple species’ responses to hydrological variables across large geographical areas. The aims of this thesis are to combine a national-scale dataset of river bird surveys with river flow archives to: (i) understand how hydrological disturbance affects the distribution of river birds, and (ii) evaluate the potential impacts of climate change-induced shifts in river flow on such species’ distributions. Species have complex, but biologically interpretable, associations with hydrological variables. Variation in river flow acts as an environmental filter that influences community assembly processes. Specialist river birds are most vulnerable to climate-induced shifts in river flow and their distributions may shift in response to future changes in river habitat suitability. The success of relating hydrological variables to the distributions of river birds demonstrates that variability in river flow has consequences for ecological structure at high trophic levels and that climate-induced shifts in river flow may represent a previously unidentified mechanism by which climate change mediates range shifts in birds.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Reynolds, James and Hannah, David and Noble, David and Sadler, Jonathan
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
Department:School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Department of Geography
Additional Information:

Royan A, Hannah DM, Reynolds SJ, Noble DG, Sadler JP (2013) Avian Community Responses to Variability in River Hydrology. PLoS ONE 8(12): e83221.

Royan, A., Reynolds, S. J., Hannah, D. M., Prudhomme, C., Noble, D. G. and Sadler, J. P. (2015), Shared environmental responses drive co-occurrence patterns in river bird communities. Ecography

Royan, A., D. M. Hannah, S. J. Reynolds, D. G. Noble, and J. P. Sadler. (2014), River birds’
response to hydrological extremes: New vulnerability index and conservation
implications. Biological Conservation 177:64-73.

Alexander Royan, Christel Prudhomme, David M. Hannah, S. James Reynolds, David G. Noble, and Jonathan P. Sadler (2015), Climate-induced changes in river flow regimes will alter future bird distributions. Ecosphere 6:art50.

Subjects:G Geography (General)
GE Environmental Sciences
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:6281
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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