Climate change

The potential threats to the Alpine biodiversity, coming from changes in climate and soil use, are analysed through an approach that combines data collection with targeted sampling along altitudinal gradients, the definition of species-habitat models to understand the effect of environmental and climatic parameters on alpine species, the evaluation of possible effects of the predicted changes due to factors like global warming, change of management plans or anthropic use of the habitats. Such approach is integrated with the revision of the available scientific literature on the topic and with the evaluations carried out by experts.

Our research on this subject extends to the whole Alpine region, thanks to collaborations with the University of Torino, Pavia and Milano, the University of Berna, the Swiss Ornithological Institute (Vogelwarte/Sempach) and the European Snowfinch Group. Also the Paneveggio – Pale di San Martino Natural Park and the Stelvio National Park are part of the project, while associations like CAI/SAT and the managers of mountain huts are involved in various ways.

Climate change is one of the main threats to the biodiversity at a global scale and one of the main causes for the decline of many species of alpine habitats. Human activities interact with the effects of the climate change, usually worsening the consequences. Some example of that are the non-sustainable exploitation of forests, the abandonment of pastures, the development of tourist/recreational activities that can cause direct impact on the species or their habitats.

Our Department is one of the most active research groups on this relevant topic in Italy, that produces scientific evidences, also through a PhD in collaboration with the University of Pavia, useful for describing and understanding the effects of the climate change on the alpine avifauna and for proposing new efficient strategies for their conservation.


Recent publications:

  • Brambilla M., Pedrini P., Rolando A. and Chamberlain D.E. 2016. Climate change will increase the potential conflict between skiing and high-elevation bird species in the Alps. J. Biogeogr. 1365-2699;
  • Chamberlain, D.E., Brambilla, M., Caprio, E. Pedrini P. and Rolando A., (2016). Alpine bird distributions along elevation gradients: the consistency of climate and habitat effects across geographic regions. Oecologia 181(4): 1139-1150
  • Chamberlain D.E., Pedrini P., Brambilla M., Rolando A. and Girardello M. 2016. Identifying key conservation threats to Alpine birds through expert knowledge. PeerJ, 4: e1723; DOI 10.7717/peerj.1723
  • Brambilla, M., Cortesi, M., Capelli, F., Chamberlain, D., Pedrini, P., & Rubolini, D. (2017). Foraging habitat selection by Alpine White-winged Snowfinches Montifringilla nivalis during the nestling rearing period. Journal of Ornithology, 158(1), 277-286.
  • Brambilla, M., Caprio, E., Assandri, G., Scridel, D., Bassi, E., Bionda, R., Celada, C., Falco, R., Bogliani, G., Pedrini, P., Rolando, A. & Chamberlain D. 2017. A spatially explicit definition of conservation priorities according to population resistance and resilience, species importance and level of threat in a changing climate. Diversity and Distributions, 23:727-738.
  • Scridel, D., Bogliani, G., Pedrini, P. , Iemma, A., von Hardenberg, A. & Brambilla, M. 2017. Thermal niche predicts recent changes in range size for bird species. Climate Research, 73:207-216
  • Scridel, D., Brambilla, M., Martin, K., Lehikoinen, A., Iemma, A., Anderle, M., Jähnig, S. Caprio, E., Bogliani, G., Pedrini, P., Rolando, A., Arlettaz, R. & Chamberlain, D.E. 2018. A Review and Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Climate Change on Holarctic Mountain and Upland Bird Populations. Ibis, doi: 10.1111/ibi.12585.
  • Brambilla, M., Resano-Mayor, J., Scridel, D., Anderle, M., Bogliani, G., Braunisch, V., Capelli, F., Cortesi, M., Horrenberger, N., Pedrini, P., Sangalli, B., Chamberlain, D., Arlettaz, R. & Rubolini, D. 2018. Past and future impact of climate change on foraging habitat suitability in a high-alpine bird species: management options to buffer against global warming effects. Biological Conservation, 221: 209-218.