Researchers of the new study investigated the role of protected areas for the range shifts of wintering waterbirds in Europe and North Africa.
Species communities were noted to shift faster inside protected areas compared to other areas.
– Range shifts of waterbirds have been over 40 percent faster inside protected areas compared to outside areas. On average, species communities have shifted inside protected areas c. 90 kilometres in 25 years, says Postdoctoral Researcher Elie Gaget from the University of Turku.
Protected areas not only increased the colonisation towards northern areas, but also prevented local extinctions on the southern range of species compared to non-protected areas. This suggests that protected areas can contribute to expand the overall range of species.
In addition to single protected areas, the protected area network as a whole influenced the spread of waterbird species. Shifts in species communities were faster in areas with a dense protected area network compared to areas where the network was sparse.
Read more: University of Turku
Waterbirds (Photo Credit: Elie Gaget)