An avifaunal zonation of Switzerland and its relation to environmental conditions

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  •  We propose a quantitative zonation of Switzerland based on the distribution of breeding birds. We use a combined dataset from two nationwide bird censuses 20 years apart to account for distribution changes between the censuses. This approach approximates the ‘potential’ distribution of species more closely than a dataset from one period only.

  •  A numerical approach with correspondence analysis and non-hierarchical clustering resulted in five avifaunal regions, consisting of two lowland regions north of the alpine arch, two alpine regions and one region of southern alpine valleys.

  •  We identified characteristic species for each region using the indicator value analysis of DufrĂȘne & Legendre (1997) and determined environmental conditions separating the regions with discriminant analysis.

  •  Our zonation partly corresponds with previous subdivisions of Switzerland, but has the advantage of being based on a numerical approach instead of expert knowledge.

  •  We discuss avifaunal and ecological differences between the regions and relate our zonation to the classical biogeographic regions of Europe. Finally, we evaluate the importance of the zonation for bird conservation.
  • Keywords: Atlas data; IndVal; biogeography; breeding bird community; characteristic species; cumulative distribution; ordination; zonation

    Document Type: Research Article


    Affiliations: 1: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Department of Biology, Blacksburg, Virginia, 24061–0406, U.S.A. 2: Swiss Ornithological Institute, 6204 Sempach, Switzerland.

    Publication date: May 1, 2001

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