Climate change

 Wren (John Harding)

Climate change has been widely cited as one of the most significant threats to biodiversity whose impact is projected to be increasingly severe during the course of this century. It is important to gather evidence to assess the validity of these projections and determine the extent to which species and populations are responding to climate change now. This information can then be used to inform policies and management strategies to reduce the severity of such impacts on populations in the future (termed adaptation). If you would like to find out more, a series of short review articles on the topic of climate change and birds are being written for  BTO News, and will be made available below as they are published:

BTO research on climate change can be divided into three areas:

Climate change is affecting our birdlife. Changes in summer and winter conditions may differentially affect breeding success and mortality, leading to changes in abundance. BTO nest record, ringing and survey data are at the heart of being able to understand these changes, and we are currently working on a range of projects attempting to do this. It is only through understanding such changes that we are able to best make predictions about the future, and then consider what can be done by way of adaptation in order to counteract any loss. Research on golden plovers provides an example of how these different strands may fit together.

For further information please contact James Pearce-Higgins

Recent research on Climate Change

Juvenile Great Tit, photograph by Jill Pakenham

Climate change: from egg laying to multi-taxa modelling

Data from our Nest Record Scheme are enabling an increased understanding of how climate change is affecting the timing of breeding in birds.
Long-tailed Tit, photograph by Edmund Fellowes

Understanding the effects of weather on bird populations

Analyses of national monitoring data show how resident and short-distance migrant populations tend to increase following warm winter and spring conditions. A more detailed field-based study of Long-tailed Tits has provided valuable insights about how such increases occur. Warmer temperatures in summer had a generally negative impact on populations, particularly if associated with drought, whilst long-distance migrants also appear to decline after a warm May.   

Great Crested Grebe, photograph by Sam White

Riverine birds under threat from climate change?

Current climate change models predict that, by 2050, river flows will decrease in summer and increase in winter, with extreme flow events becoming more frequent. Two recent papers suggest how river birds might respond to these changes and highlight the species most at risk.

More latest research stories