Not so grim up north

This headline in the Daily Mail this morning caught our eye this morning:

Birds, butterflies and bugs that live in southern England are setting up home further north because of warming temperatures.

Experts at the University of York have studied 250 species which have historically lived in the warmer South and results show they are tending to colonise new areas which were previously too cold for them.

Matthew Oates, a naturalist for the National Trust, gives his thoughts on this research:

This is a really useful piece of research, and one which offers some hope – at least for a few species!  It is great to see success stories and rays of hope amongst the doom and gloom.

I do wonder, though, whether we still severely underestimate the true dynamism of nature?  Surely the status and distribution of species have never been stable, even within a relatively small country like the UK – and never will be?  Status and distribution must operate within a massive dynamic flux, which is hard for us to get our heads around, let alone measure scientifically?   Many of our more mobile species, such as some butterflies, seem to have curious cycles of expansion and contraction, over relatively long periods of time.  We are only just beginning to spot these cycles.  This type of research will help us understand this flux and these cycles, together with the impact of weather and climate.

Much of our wildlife is remarkably adept at pushing limits and exploiting windows of opportunity, provided by changes in weather or climate, and by changes in the distribution and quality of habitat.  Our gloriously variable climate assists and stimulates this dynamism.

It is great that our amateur naturalists produce so much useful data, on population size and distribution, which is then analysed by top scientists studying climate change.  Our children and grandchildren will appreciate this work.  Carry on!



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