Suitable, reachable but not colonised: seasonal niche duality in an endemic mountainous songbird
ecological niche, Maxent
The realized distribution of animals is often delimited by climatic factors which define, next to the specific habitat and food availability, their species-specific potential distribution. We studied the environmental limitations affecting the realized breeding and wintering distributions of the Citril Finch (Carduelis citrinella), one of the few endemic bird species of European mountain ranges. To assess the environmental limits that shape the seasonal distribution, we used species distribution models (SDMs) derived from macroclimate in combination with land cover information. Our data suggest a high congruence between the potential modelled breeding distribution of the Citril Finch and the currently known breeding sites, indicating a high level of niche filling. The unusual absence in several suitable breeding habitats at the eastern and northern range limit (Eastern Alps, Carpathians, Bavarian Forest, Harz Mountains, Fichtelgebirge, Krkonoše Mountains) is likely linked to a combination of both missing resources and restricted physiological migration capacities from the available wintering grounds. Since the accomplished migratory distances hardly exceed more than 500 km, it seems likely that the distance to the main wintering areas is too large for exceeding eastern and northern range limits. We discuss the differences in SDM outcomes when including distal predictor variables instead of using proximal predictors alone, and highlight the importance of considering a seasonal niche duality to gain more insights into complex range effects in species with seasonal ranges.