European birds flock to warming Britain

July 30, 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.

Source: Durham University

Explore further: Habitat prediction model created to protect piping plovers

Related Stories

Habitat prediction model created to protect piping plovers

July 30, 2015

Beach walkers along the East Coast often share the sand with several kinds of birds that scavenge the shore just out of the reach of waves. Among these shorebirds is the piping plover—a tiny, busy bird that nests in open ...

Mounting threat to Galapagos from 'El Nino'

July 23, 2015

The Galapagos Islands, celebrated for their breathtaking biodiversity, could face a major threat from "El Nino," the weather system known to wreak havoc every few years.

Recommended for you

How bees naturally vaccinate their babies

July 31, 2015

When it comes to vaccinating their babies, bees don't have a choice—they naturally immunize their offspring against specific diseases found in their environments. And now for the first time, scientists have discovered how ...

New blow for 'supersymmetry' physics theory

July 27, 2015

In a new blow for the futuristic "supersymmetry" theory of the universe's basic anatomy, experts reported fresh evidence Monday of subatomic activity consistent with the mainstream Standard Model of particle physics.

A cataclysmic event of a certain age

July 27, 2015

At the end of the Pleistocene period, approximately 12,800 years ago—give or take a few centuries—a cosmic impact triggered an abrupt cooling episode that earth scientists refer to as the Younger Dryas.

Dense star clusters shown to be binary black hole factories

July 29, 2015

The coalescence of two black holes—a very violent and exotic event—is one of the most sought-after observations of modern astronomy. But, as these mergers emit no light of any kind, finding such elusive events has been ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

SDMike
not rated yet Jul 31, 2008
Dang global warming! Some species benefit contrary to Professor Gore.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.