Climate change impacts stream life

May 04, 2007

Climate change is warming Welsh streams and rivers, affecting the number and variety of some of their smallest animals, a major Cardiff University study has found.

Rivers and streams are key ecosystems for many aquatic species and form important links with surrounding habitats, yet little emphasis has been given so far to the ecological effects of climate change on these running-waters.

Now a twenty-five year study at Llyn Brianne in central Wales, led by Professor Steve Ormerod and Dr Isabelle Durance of the Cardiff School of Biosciences, has examined for the first time the effects of climate change on stream species.

The study looked at the effects of climate change on stream macroinvertebrates - animals that can be seen with the naked eye such as crustaceans, snails and larval insects including stoneflies or mayflies.

Professor Ormerod, said: "Streams and rivers are likely to be highly sensitive to climate and yet long-term evidence of effects is scarce globally. Our study shows a clear climate-change signal over the last 25 years, with temperatures warming faster than could be explained by background variations. An ecological response to warming has also been clear."

The study predicts that at the present rate the springtime abundance of macroinvertebrates in streams could decline by as much as 21 per cent for every 1 degree Celsius rise in temperature.

Dr Durance added "The numbers of species in the streams we examined might also fall by 12-25 per cent if trends continue as expected over the next 50 years".

Source: Cardiff University

Explore further: Study helps assess impact of temperature on belowground soil decomposition

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Tornadoes occurring earlier in 'Tornado Alley'

Sep 16, 2014

Peak tornado activity in the central and southern Great Plains of the United States is occurring up to two weeks earlier than it did half a century ago, according to a new study whose findings could help ...

Projections for climate change in Vermont

Sep 15, 2014

Here's your northern Vermont forecast for the rest of this century: Annual precipitation will increase by between a third and half an inch per decade, while average temperatures will rise some five degrees ...

Study ties groundwater to human evolution

Sep 10, 2014

Our ancient ancestors' ability to move around and find new sources of groundwater during extremely dry periods in Africa millions of years ago may have been key to their survival and the evolution of the human ...

Sharks in acidic waters avoid smell of food

Sep 09, 2014

The increasing acidification of ocean waters caused by rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels could rob sharks of their ability to sense the smell of food, a new study suggests.

Recommended for you

Big changes in the Sargasso Sea

3 hours ago

Over one thousand miles wide and three thousand miles long, the Sargasso Sea occupies almost two thirds of the North Atlantic Ocean. Within the sea, circling ocean currents accumulate mats of Sargassum seawee ...

Water-quality trading can reduce river pollution

3 hours ago

Allowing polluters to buy, sell or trade water-quality credits could significantly reduce pollution in river basins and estuaries faster and at lower cost than requiring the facilities to meet compliance costs on their own, ...

Managing land into the future

7 hours ago

Food production is the backbone of New Zealand's economy—and a computer modelling programme designed by a Victoria University of Wellington academic is helping ensure that farming practices here and overseas ...

Is TV coverage of climate change too focused on disaster?

7 hours ago

TV news bulletins also gave much less air time to other potential focuses – the uncertainty surrounding climate change, the opportunities it presents and the explicit risks it presents, says the study published ...

User comments : 0