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Category — Extinction

UK seabirds sound climate warning

Alex Kirby

Common_Kittiwake_Rissa_tridactyla

A Scottsh kittiwake: Numbers have plunged since 2000, with climate change thought to be reducing their main food source. Image: By DickDaniels (http://carolinabirds.org)via Wikimedia Commons

Once-familiar Scottish seabirds are among species whose numbers in the UK are falling sharply, scientists say – and the suspicion is that ciimate change is to blame.

Several familiar British birds are now showing drastic declines in numbers as the reality of climate change strikes home even at these temperate latitudes.

Scientists believe climate change is the driving force behind a crash in the numbers of kittiwakes, a seabird species which used to thrive in northern Scotland. The birds are doing so badly that there are fears some colonies could disappear entirely.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is the UK’s largest nature conservation charity. In a report to mark the publication on 31 March by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of its latest findings, the RSPB says that on current trends kittiwakes face extinction from areas that were once core strongholds.

It says that since 2000 kittiwake numbers have declined by 87% on Orkney and Shetland, two island groups north of the Scottish mainland. The islands were once home to thriving cliff colonies of thousands of birds, but today, the RSPB says, many cliffs are virtually empty in the breeding season.

It says research shows that sea temperature changes are affecting the availability of the birds’ preferred prey, small fish called sandeels. [Read more →]

March 31, 2014   No Comments