Increasing numbers of wintering forest birds in Swedish Lapland 1986–2017 show stronger correlations with forest development than with local weather
Keywords:climate change, Community Temperature Index, forest variables, point counts, survey
After a long period of decline, the number of forest birds has increased in Sweden in recent decades. Whether this trend is due to an increase in forested area, forest quality, climate change, or a combination of these factors, remains unclear. Here, we compared forest bird data from a local winter point count route around Storuman in Swedish Lapland between 1986 and 2017, with the development of regional forest composition and local weather conditions. We suggest that rather than changes in average annual, winter, or summer local temperatures or precipitation, the main drivers behind increasing numbers of wintering forest birds in this part of Sweden are an increase in the area of denser forest and dead wood volume, and a decrease in open ground area without forest vegetation. While there may be supplementary explanations behind the increasing numbers of forest birds, such as reduced agriculture, decreasing local human population, or stronger photosynthesis, our results indicate that local land use has been favourable for forest birds in recent decades in this area.
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