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Detecting and attributing biodiversity trends – drivers of past and future population and community dynamics in North American breeding birds (DEBTs)

This research is supported by the German Science Foundation DFG (2023-2026; Grant no. ZU 361.6-1 to Damaris Zurell)


The key aim of DEBTs is to develop and operationalise a new process-explicit ensemble model framework to detect, attribute and project biodiversity trends. This framework will allow disentangling the importance of abiotic and biotic drivers on observed biodiversity changes to make more robust biodiversity predictions under scenarios of global change. DEBTs will focus on a 50-year time series of North American breeding bird counts as a unique long-term and geographically broad data set, which provides an ideal test case for comparing multi-model performance on historic data and for quantifying transient dynamics from recent environmental change and resulting future colonisation credits and extinction debts. Explicit uncertainty assessments will pinpoint important sources of uncertainty and help guide future monitoring efforts. An international research workshop with leading scientists in the field will synthesise the results gained from the case study and will develop an agenda for implementing regional terrestrial biodiversity model intercomparisons across taxonomic groups and regions.


  • Greta Bocedi (Univ. Aberdeen, UK)
  • Natalie Briscoe (Univ. Melbourne, Australia)
  • Brendan Wintle (Univ. Melbourne, Australia)
  • Mark Urban (Univ. Connecticut, USA)