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RSPB and climate change impacts on British Wildlife - 19 November

kittiwakes

A report published on the 16th November by the RSPB has highlighted the effects of climate change on European wildlife and warns that it will only intensify with time. Following this report, RSPB Director of Conservation Martin Harper stated “Climate change is the greatest long-term threat to people and wildlife. We are already seeing its impacts, and alongside other pressures on land and sea, our wildlife is increasingly at risk”.

Climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events - this can harm wildlife in many ways. Wet and windy springs, for example, can cause large population declines of Shags, of which Britain supports 45% of the world’s breeding population.

Climate adaptability is only possible if there is appropriate habitat available. One third of Europe’s bumblebee species could lose 80% of their current range by 2100, which highlights the need for management of existing protected areas and creation of new protected areas to enable species to move.

Species are also moving as a result of climatic range changes. Some species are colonising new areas: Small Red-eyed Damselflies for example are spreading through the country, however were only first recorded in 1999. On the other hand, species ranges can also retract north at their southern edges and wildlife may be forced into areas where there is no habitat for it.

The North Sea is experiencing changing sea conditions as a result of climate change, which is in turn affecting plankton populations. As a result, incoming plankton species are less suitable than those they replace as food for sand-eels, which is problematic for Kittiwakes (see picture) and other seabirds. Climate change can therefore be attributed to the 70% decline in Kittiwake populations in Britain in recent decades.

To read the full report, click here.

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