Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Protected areas allow wildlife to spread in response to climate change, citizen scientists reveal

Date:
August 13, 2012
Source:
University of York
Summary:
A new study has shown how birds, butterflies, other insects and spiders have colonized nature reserves and areas protected for wildlife, as they move north in response to climate change and other environmental changes.

Bittern Botaurus stellaris, adult, wading in reedbed at Lee Valley Country Park, February.
Credit: Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)

A new study led by scientists at the University of York has shown how birds, butterflies, other insects and spiders have colonised nature reserves and areas protected for wildlife, as they move north in response to climate change and other environmental changes.

Related Articles


The study of over 250 species, led by researchers in the Department of Biology at York, is published online by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The conclusions were based on the analysis of millions of records of wildlife species sent in predominantly by members of the public.

The work represents a major new discovery involving collaborators in universities, research institutes, conservation charities, and regional and national government but -- crucially --fuelled by 'citizen science'.

Many species need to spread towards the poles where conditions remain cool enough for them to survive climate warming. But doing this is complicated because many landscapes across the world are dominated by human agriculture and development, which form barriers to the movement of species. The mainstay of traditional conservation has been to establish protected areas and nature reserves to provide refuges against the loss of habitats and other threats in the surrounding countryside.

But this method of nature conservation has been questioned in recent years, partly because of continuing degradation of habitats in reserves in some parts of the world. Increasingly, however, the value of protected areas is being question because climate change is taking place -- wildlife sites stay where they are while animal species move in response to changing conditions.

However, the new research shows that protected areas are the places that most animal species colonise as they spread into new regions. "Protected areas are like stepping stones across the landscape, allowing species to set up a succession of new breeding populations as they move northwards," said lead author Professor Chris Thomas, of the University of York.

Co-author Dr Phillipa Gillingham, now a Lecturer at Bournemouth University, calculated that species are on average around four times more likely to colonise nature reserves than might be expected. "For the seven focal species of birds and butterflies that we studied in greatest detail, 40 per cent of new colonisations occurred in the mere 8.4 per cent of the land that was protected," she said. "Similar patterns were observed among more than 250 invertebrate species."

But the study showed that species vary greatly in how much they need reserves.

"Some species, such as the Dartford warbler and silver-spotted skipper butterfly, are largely confined to nature reserves," said Dr David Roy, of the Natural Environment Research Council's Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. "Whereas others like the nightjar and stone curlew are less dependent on these sites."

Dr Richard Bradbury, of the RSPB, said: "Sites of importance for wildlife stand out like beacons in otherwise impoverished landscapes. This study shows that the hugely important role they play now will continue undiminished in the future. Protecting these arks, as well as restoring and re-creating new ones where we can, will provide the vital network enabling more species to survive the spectre of climate change."

"This study is a great example of how volunteer recorders and national monitoring schemes together provide the information to answer key conservation questions of global importance, such as how we can help wildlife cope with climate change," added James Pearce-Higgins of the British Trust for Ornithology. "Only through the dedicated effort of so many people can we undertake the scale of long-term monitoring required."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of York. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Chris D. Thomasa, Phillipa K. Gillinghama, Richard B. Bradburyb, David B. Royc, Barbara J. Andersona, John M. Baxterd, Nigel A. D. Bourne, Humphrey Q. P. Crickf, Richard A. Findong, Richard Foxe, Jenny A. Hodgsona, Alison R. Holth, Mike D. Morecrofti, Nina J. O’Hanlona, Tom H. Oliverc, James W. Pearce-Higginsj, Deborah A. Procterk, Jeremy A. Thomasl, Kevin J. Walkerm, Clive A. Walmsleyn, Robert J. Wilsono, and Jane K. Hilla. Protected areas facilitate species’ range expansions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2012

Cite This Page:

University of York. "Protected areas allow wildlife to spread in response to climate change, citizen scientists reveal." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 August 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120813155243.htm>.
University of York. (2012, August 13). Protected areas allow wildlife to spread in response to climate change, citizen scientists reveal. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120813155243.htm
University of York. "Protected areas allow wildlife to spread in response to climate change, citizen scientists reveal." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120813155243.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Newsy (Dec. 19, 2014) A new study suggests a certain type of bird was able to sense a tornado outbreak that moved through the U.S. a day before it hit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins