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Study shows climate change disrupts natural relationships between species

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Posted April 16, 2014
Study shows climate change disrupts natural relationships between species
Increasing temperatures are already affecting both golden plovers and their key prey, crane flies. Credit: Nigel Clark/BTO.
A collaborative study released today involving scientists from the Cambridge Conservation Initiative has shown that climate change is altering species distributions and populations, seemingly through shifting interactions between species rather than direct responses to climate.

The study, led by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and involving Fauna & Flora International, IUCN, United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre, RSPB and BirdLife International, as well as Cambridge University, reviewed almost 150 published studies of climatic impacts on natural populations.

An ecosystem is made up of a multitude of species interacting with each other; this study has shown that many of the climate-related impacts on a given species occur as a result of changes in population and behaviour of other species within the ecosystem, which then cascade through the food chain.

For example, Arctic fox populations have been affected by declining lemming populations (which is linked to changes in snow cover) and by expanding red fox populations. In the UK, upland birds such as the golden plover are affected by increasing summer temperatures, which causes problems for their crane fly prey.

Read more at: Phys.org

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