Decomposing drivers in avian insectivory: Large-scale effects of climate, habitat and bird diversity

Laura Schillé, Elena Valdés-Correcher, Frédéric Archaux, Flavius Bălăcenoiu, Mona Chor Bjørn, Michal Bogdziewicz, Thomas Boivin, Manuela Branco, Thomas Damestoy, Maarten de Groot, Jovan Dobrosavljević, Mihai Leonard Duduman, Anne Maïmiti Dulaurent, Samantha Green, Jan Grünwald, Csaba Béla Eötvös, Maria Faticov, Pilar Fernandez-Conradi, Elisabeth Flury, David FunosasAndrea Galmán, Martin M. Gossner, Sofia Gripenberg, Lucian Grosu, Jonas Hagge, Arndt Hampe, Deborah Harvey, Rick Houston, Rita Isenmann, Andreja Kavčič, Mikhail V. Kozlov, Vojtech Lanta, Bénédicte Le Tilly, Carlos Lopez-Vaamonde, Soumen Mallick, Elina Mäntylä, Anders Mårell, Slobodan Milanović, Márton Molnár, Xoaquín Moreira, Valentin Moser, Anna Mrazova, Dmitrii L. Musolin, Thomas Perot, Andrea Piotti, Anna V. Popova, Andreas Prinzing, Ludmila Pukinskaya, Aurélien Sallé, Katerina Sam, Nickolay V. Sedikhin, Tanja Shabarova, Ayco J.M. Tack, Rebecca Thomas, Karthik Thrikkadeeri, Dragoș Toma, Grete Vaicaityte, Inge van Halder, Zulema Varela, Luc Barbaro, Bastien Castagneyrol

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim: Climate is a major driver of large-scale variability in biodiversity, as a likely result of more intense biotic interactions under warmer conditions. This idea fuelled decades of research on plant-herbivore interactions, but much less is known about higher-level trophic interactions. We addressed this research gap by characterizing both bird diversity and avian predation along a climatic gradient at the European scale. Location: Europe. Taxon: Insectivorous birds and pedunculate oaks. Methods: We deployed plasticine caterpillars in 138 oak trees in 47 sites along a 19° latitudinal gradient in Europe to quantify bird insectivory through predation attempts. In addition, we used passive acoustic monitoring to (i) characterize the acoustic diversity of surrounding soundscapes; (ii) approximate bird abundance and activity through passive acoustic recordings; and (iii) infer both taxonomic and functional diversity of insectivorous birds from recordings. Results: The functional diversity of insectivorous birds increased with warmer climates. Bird predation increased with forest cover and bird acoustic activity but decreased with mean annual temperature and functional richness of insectivorous birds. Contrary to our predictions, climatic clines in bird predation attempts were not directly mediated by changes in insectivorous bird diversity or acoustic activity, but climate and habitat still had independent effects on predation attempts. Main Conclusions: Our study supports the hypothesis of an increase in the diversity of insectivorous birds towards warmer climates but refutes the idea that an increase in diversity would lead to more predation and advocates for better accounting for activity and abundance of insectivorous birds when studying the large-scale variation in insect-tree interactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)(In-Press)
JournalJournal of Biogeography
Early online date4 Feb 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Feb 2024


BNP Paribas Foundation
This study was permitted by the financial support of the BNP Paribas Foundation through its Climate & Biodiversity Initiative for the ‘Tree bodyguards’ citizen science project. FB and DT were supported by the PN 23090102 and 34PFE./30.12.2021 ‘Increasing the institutional capacity and performance of INCDS ‘Marin Drăcea’ in the activity of RDI—CresPerfInst’ funded by the Ministry of Research, Innovation and Digitalization of Romania. MB was supported by the Forest Research Centre (CEF) (UIDB/00239/2020) and the Laboratory for Sustainable Land Use and Ecosystem Services—TERRA (LA/P/0092/2020) funded by FCT, Portugal. MdG and AK were supported by the core research group ‘Forest biology, ecology and technology’ (P4-0107) of the Slovenian Research Agency. MVK was supported by the Academy of Finland (project 316,182). VL was funded by the Czech Science Foundation (project 23-07533S) and Academy of Sciences (RVO 67985939). EM and KS were supported by the Grant Agency of the Czech Republic (19-28,126X). KS and AM were supported by ERC StG BABE 805189. XM was supported by a grant from the Spanish National Research Council (2021AEP082) and a grant from the Regional Government of Galicia (IN607A 2021/03). ZV was supported by a grant awarded by the Autonomous Government of Galicia (Spain; Modalidade B-2019), and Maria Zambrano programme from the Spanish Ministry of Universities. LB was supported by funding from LTSER ZA Pyrenees Garonne. We thank the personnel of Centro Nazionale Carabinieri Biodiversità ‘Bosco Fontana’ for help in data collection. We thank Tarja Heinonen for help in field work in Berlin, Germany. We thank Roman Hrdlička and Kari Mäntylä for bird voice identification. We thank E. L. Zvereva for help in data collection. No fieldwork permit was required for this study.


  • acoustic diversity
  • climatic gradient
  • functional diversity
  • insectivorous birds
  • plasticine caterpillars
  • predation function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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