Anticipation of common buzzard population patterns in the changing UK landscape
MACDONALD D., Arraut E., Walls S., Kenward R.
Harmonious coexistence between humans, other animals and ecosystem services they support is a complex issue, typically impacted by landscape change which affects animal distribution and abundance. In the last 30 years, afforestation on grasslands across Great Britain has been increasing, motivated by socio-economic reasons and climate change mitigation. Beyond expected benefits, an obvious question is what are the consequences for wider biodiversity of this scale of landscape change. Here we explore the impact of such change on the expanding population of common buzzards Buteo buteo, a raptor with a history of human-induced setbacks. Using Resource-Area-Dependence Analysis, with which we estimated individual’s resource needs using 10-day radio-tracking sessions and the 1990’s Land Cover Map of GB, and Agent-Based Modelling, we predict that buzzards in our study area in lowland UK had fully recovered (to 2.2 ind/km2) by 1995. We also anticipate that the conversion of 30%, 60% and 90% of economically-viable meadow into woodland would reduce buzzard abundance non-linearly by 15%, 38% and 74%, respectively. The same approach used here could allow for cost-effective anticipation of other animals’ population patterns in changing landscapes, thus helping harmonise economy, landscape change and biodiversity.