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24 September 2014
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Wildlife



The affects of climate change aren't going to be restricted to humans. The possible dangers for plants and animals throughout the world are a great concern to environmentalists. Birds, fish, and land-based animals are all going to be under threat as their habitats and climate alter. Plants, trees and shrubs are also going to have to adapt.

Species are under threat in more than one way. Climate change is predicted to cause a number of weather extremes which could directly affect our wildlife, for example through flooding or storms.

However the biggest concern is how the changes in weather will affect the habitats in which species lives. It is estimated 20-30% of plant and animal species will be at increased extinction if the temperature rises by more than 1.5 - 2.5C. Less snow in winter, warmer temperatures in summer and more winter rain will affect wildlife across the board. Sea level rises will reduce land area in some countries, which will instantly affect vegetation which is currently used for homes and foods by animals.

Scientists from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research have studied UK growing seasons dating back over 200 years and found that the growing season has increased on average by more than a day a year over the last 20 years. Further changes in rainfall and temperature will affect many animal and plant species around the UK. Some species might be unable to adapt quickly enough and habitats might not be available for them to move into.

Climate change will affect the whole chain of wildlife existence. Not all change is bad, however. As we lose some species, others will arrive. Birds like the Little Egret are now seen frequently in southern Britain, since their arrival around 20 years ago. The Cetti's Warbler are also now seen in southern wetlands and the Nuthatch, Serin, Lesser Blackbacked Gull and Dartfod Warbler have started moving northwards too.

Species have, of course, adapted to changes to their climates before (such as during the Ice Age), but it is believed they need a longer period of time to adapt to change than humans.

One of the main concerns with species shifting from where they are now is that if climate change occurs very quickly, some wildlife may not be able to adapt and move quick enough and so may not survive. Beech woodlands, commonly found in southern England are one of those threatened. With dryer conditions forecast for the south, beech trees will struggle to survive.

Species have, of course, adapted to changes to their climates before (such as during the Ice Age), but it is believed they need a longer period of time to adapt to change than humans.





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