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Climate change affecting Europe's birds now, say researchers
Date:3/3/2009

h some species are actually benefiting from the recent changes.

"Our indicator is the biodiversity equivalent of the FTSE index, only instead of summarising the changing fortunes of businesses, it summarises how biodiversity is changing due to climate change. Unlike the FTSE, which is currently at a six year low, the climate change index has been increasing each year since the mid-80s, indicating that climate is having an increasing impact on biodiversity.

"Those birds we predict should fare well under climate change have been increasing since the mid-80s, and those we predict should do badly have declined over the same period. The worry is that the declining group actually consists of 75 per cent of the species we studied."

The Climate Change Indicator combines two independent strands of work; bioclimate envelope-modelling and observed populations trends in European birds, derived from the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme.

When a bird's population changes in line with the projection, the indicator goes up. Species whose observed trend does not fit the projection cause the indicator to decline.

The RSPB's Dr Richard Gregory said: "We hear a lot about climate change, but our paper shows that its effects are being felt right now. The results show the number of species being badly affected outnumbers the species that might benefit by three to one. Although we have only had a very small actual rise in global average temperature, it is staggering to realise how much change we are noticing in wildlife populations. If we don't take our foot off the gas now, our indicator shows there will be many much worse effects to come. We must keep global temperature rise below the two degree ceiling; anything above this will create global havoc."

The research shows that a number of species are projected to increase the populations across Europe. Of the 122 species that were surveyed, the top ten increasing species (in or
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Contact: Carl Stiansen
c.r.stiansen@durham.ac.uk
44-191-334-6077
Durham University
Source:Eurekalert

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