Climate and Birds in the UK

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“Because the UK is in the middle Latitudes of Europe,
we expected that recent climatic warming would favour
species with ranges located in the south of Europe and
adversely affect northern species.”
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Science Daily News Release

European Birds Flock To Warming Britain, While
Some Northern Species Not Faring As Well
<http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080729234302.htm>

ScienceDaily (July 29, 2008) – Researchers at
Durham, the RSPB and Cambridge University have
found that birds such as the Cirl Bunting and
Dartford Warbler are becoming more common across
a wide range of habitats in Britain as
temperatures rise.

Unfortunately, some northern species, such as the
Fieldfare and Redwing, are not faring quite so
well and their numbers are falling.

Researchers looked at twenty-five year population
trends of 42 bird species in relation to changes
in climatic suitability simulated using climatic
envelope models.

Professor Brian Huntley from The Institute of
Ecosystem Science at Durham University says: “The
results are what we expected to find given the
changes in climate over the last 20 years.

“Because the UK is in the middle Latitudes of
Europe, we expected that recent climatic warming
would favour species with ranges located in the
south of Europe and adversely affect northern
species.”

Bird spotters may have to refer to new books to
identify some of the new visitors to our shores
but Britons who’ve visited the Mediterranean
region may recognise the increasing presence of
the famously explosive song of Cetti’s Warbler.

Northern species that are under threat also
include the Slavonian Grebe, a bird whose range
extends at its southern margins to Scotland. The
Fieldfare and Redwing – birds that are familiar
as winter visitors to bird tables and gardens in
the north-east but that breed only locally in
parts of Scotland – are also suffering a downturn
in numbers.

The models used to explore these trends are the
same models that have been used to predict long
term changes in all bird species across Europe;
Durham’s ornithological expert Brian Huntley has
compiled ‘A Climatic Atlas of European Breeding
Birds’ to map potential changes in distribution
of all of the continent’s regularly occurring
nesting birds. His work shows the need for urgent
action on climatic change to avoid calamitous
impacts on birds.

The new work has important implications for
predicting future trends. Researchers can now
look at what has happened in the past to help
predict the future species and numbers of birds
in Britain.

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