Conservation Biology

Projects by model species

Alpine birds vs climate and land use change

Bild mit einen Vogel auf dem Baum
(c) 2017 by Nathan Horrenberger

Climate change represents a new challenge for biodiversity, especially in high-altitude/latitude ecosystems, where the increase in ambient temperature is very high. Species with a boreo-alpine distribution are therefore particularly at risk of habitat loss and range contraction. Furthermore, alpine ecosystems are undergoing changes in land use, such as abandonment of pastures, intensification of semi-natural grasslands and increase in leisure activities. As land use changes often operate concomitantly with climate change, disentangling between these two main drivers is challenging.

The main goal of the Alpine Bird Project is to identify crucial parameters of habitat selection, resource acquisition and population dynamics for two model species typical of timberline (Ring Ouzel) & alpine ecosystems (Snowfinch). Our main hypothesis is that there are specific habitat-species associations that may be more crucial than physiological constraints in dictating species’ spatial occurrence. The overarching aim is to characterise an optimal habitat profile for each species, in order to develop clear guidelines for conservation management strategies in mountain ecosystems.

Uni Bern supervisor

Dr. Jaime Resano Mayor, Prof. Dr. Raphaël Arlettaz

External collaborators

 Dr. Mattia Brambilla, MUSE of Trento

 Lombardy Foundation for the Environment (link)


Resano-Mayor, J., Á. Fernández-Martín, S. Hernández-Gómez, I. Toranzo, A. España, J.A. Gil, M. de Gabriel, I. Roa-Álvarez, E. Strinella, K.A. Hobson, G. Heckel & R. Arlettaz. 2017. Integrating genetic and stable isotope analyses to infer the population structure of the White-winged Snowfinch Montifringilla nivalis in Western Europe. Journal of Ornithology 158: 395-405. (PDF, 930KB)

Related PhD Theses


Related Master Thesis

Barras, A.G. 2016. Foraging habitat selection by Ring Ouzels Turdus torquatus in alpine timberline ecosystems: building the evidence for species conservation management. Master Thesis, University of Bern.