Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Continental-scale determinants of population trends in European amphibians and reptiles.

Abstract

The continuous decline of biodiversity is determined by the complex and joint effects of multiple environmental drivers. Still, a large part of past global change studies reporting and explaining biodiversity trends have focused on a single driver. Therefore, we are often unable to attribute biodiversity changes to different drivers, since a multivariable design is required to disentangle joint effects and interactions. In this work, we used a meta-regression within a Bayesian framework to analyze 843 time series of population abundance from 17 European amphibian and reptile species over the last 45 years. We investigated the relative effects of climate change, alien species, habitat availability, and habitat change in driving trends of population abundance over time, and evaluated how the importance of these factors differs across species. A large number of populations (54%) declined, but differences between species were strong, with some species showing positive trends. Populations declined more often in areas with a high number of alien species, and in areas where climate change has caused loss of suitability. Habitat features showed small variation over the last 25 years, with an average loss of suitable habitat of 0.1%/year per population. Still, a strong interaction between habitat availability and the richness of alien species indicated that the negative impact of alien species was particularly strong for populations living in landscapes with less suitable habitat. Furthermore, when excluding the two commonest species, habitat loss was the main correlate of negative population trends for the remaining species. By analyzing trends for multiple species across a broad spatial scale, we identify alien species, climate change, and habitat changes as the major drivers of European amphibian and reptile decline.