Climate change

Wren (John Harding) 

 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:

  • When Spring has Sprung (PDF, 765.71 KB). A review of changes in the timing of migration and breeding.
  • Highs & Lows. (PDF, 181.33 KB)The evidence for climate change having caused changes to bird populations. 
  • How bad can it get? (PDF, 322.17 KB) Potential future impacts of climate change on bird populations. 
  • Armed for change. (PDF, 258.66 KB) How conservationists can respond to climate change

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

Snipe by Niko Pekonen

Climate change impacts on UK biodiversity: declining moths and increasing aphids

Climate change may affect species populations and disrupt ecological communities. Cross-cutting analysis led by BTO has identified that climate change may have contributed to declines in UK moth populations, and increases in the numbers of flying aphids, since the 1970s.

Curlew chicks, photograph by Hugh Insley

Curlews and godwits - the vanishing tribe

New collaborative research led by the BTO investigates reasons for recent losses in curlews and godwits worldwide and identifies conservation measures which could be put in place to halt the declines.
Stonechat, photograph by Graham Clarke

Birds and butterflies struggle to adapt to climate change where natural habitat is lacking

New collaborative research involving the BTO has looked at the impact of climate change and habitat loss on a suite on British bird and butterfly species.