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Climate change affects a third of UK birds


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According to this vast study compiling data collected over the past fifty years, the impact of global warming on bird populations in the United Kingdom is generally positive. Explanations.

24 of the 68 species analyzed impacted by global warming

The research carried out jointly by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and the government conservation agency Natural England found that some 13 species, including the sparrow, the crested wren and the long-tailed tit, have seen their populations increase by at least 10% due to climate change.

According to the study by researchers, whose findings were published in the journal Bird Study, the global rise in temperatures observed in recent years at United Kingdom probably had a positive effect on local species by improving their survival rate during winter.

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Climate change affects around a third of British breeding birds. Of the 68 species monitored between 1966 and 2015, 24 experienced significant changes in their populations directly related to temperature or precipitation, and 19 of them were positively impacted by the effects of climate change.

“Populations of several local bird species are probably much larger than they would have been without climate change,” write the researchers, who believe, however, that further warming could prove more problematic.

Overall positive effects

Although three species (cuckoo, little owl and rush warbler) have seen their populations decline by at least 10% due to climate change, at the same time, it has helped to slow population declines in several British species. (field bunting, gray partridge…) considered to be in decline for several decades. The data used for the purposes of the study came from BTO, of Joint Nature Conservation Committee and some Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, whose field surveys are carried out by volunteers.

As explained James Pearce-Higgins, member of British Trust for Ornithology and lead author of the study: “Given the changing weather conditions in Britain, it can be difficult for us to see the long-term impacts of climate change. But thanks to the efforts of our volunteer ornithologists who have surveyed birds in England for over 50 years, we have been able to estimate that climate change is already affecting around a third of the populations of breeding species in the UK. “

“If some of these impacts have led to an increase in populations, due to harsh winters naturally regulating the numbers of certain local species becoming less and less frequent over time, others however seem to have declined”, concludes the searcher.


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