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Carrascal LM, Villén-Pérez S, Palomino D. (2016) Preferred temperature and thermal breadth of birds wintering in peninsular Spain – the limited effect of temperature on species distribution. PeerJ Preprints4:e1880v1https://doi.org/10.7287/peerj.preprints.1880v1
Background. Availability of environmental energy, as measured by temperature, is expected to limit the abundance and distribution of endotherms wintering at temperate latitudes. A prediction of this hypothesis is that birds should attain their highest abundances in warmer areas. However, there may be a spatial mismatch between species preferred habitats and species preferred temperatures, so some species might end-up wintering in sub-optimal thermal environments. Methods. We model the influence of minimum winter temperature on the relative abundance of 106 terrestrial bird species wintering in peninsular Spain, at 10x10 Km2 resolution, using 95%-quantile regressions. We analyze general trends across species on the shape of the response curves, the environmental preferred temperature (at which the species abundance is maximized), the mean temperature in the area of distribution and the thermal breadth (area under the abundance-temperature curve). Results. There is a large interspecific variability on the thermal preferences and specialization of species. Despite this large variability, there is a preponderance of positive relationships between species abundance and temperature, and on average species attain their maximum abundances in areas 1.9 ºC warmer than the average temperature available in peninsular Spain. The mean temperature in the area of distribution is lower than the thermal preferences of the species, although both parameters are highly correlated. Discussion. Most species prefer the warmest environments to overwinter, which suggests that temperature imposes important restrictions to birds wintering in the Iberian Peninsula. However, most individuals overwinter in locations colder than the species thermal preferences, probably reflecting a limitation of environments combining habitat and thermal preferences. Beyond these general trends, there is a high inter-specific variation in the versatility of species using the available thermal space .
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