Climate change

Climate change is already fundamentally changing the natural world. Even more profound impacts are predicted in future decades.
Causeymire Wind Farm, Achkeepster, Caithness, Highland region, Scotland

Overview

To minimise the effects on biodiversity, there are two challenges. We need to reduce the threat of climate change by lowering greenhouse gas emissions (mitigation), for instance by using renewable energy. We also need to consider how to adapt conservation work to help species to cope with the effects of climate change (adaptation).

The RSPB carries out research primarily on three fronts and often in partnership with others. First, we monitor species and undertake diagnostic work to determine how climate change is impacting biodiversity.

Secondly, we test the usefulness of solutions such as protected area designation or land management techniques to help conserve biodiversity in the face of climate change impacts. Thirdly, we conduct research to understand the impacts of renewable energy technologies on wildlife.

Sub-themes

Impacts and conservation solutions
Our research in this area falls into several complementary themes. We use our excellent monitoring data, at UK and European scales, to detect climate change impacts on wildlife, to predict future impacts and to develop indicators of these impacts.

We carry out research to understand important ecological mechanisms through which climate change may affect species and assess the extent of risk to species.

Using this knowledge, we design and test conservation solutions to help species cope with climate change, from whole protected area networks to micro-climate manipulation on reserves. We work with policy officers and land managers to translate research findings into practical adaptation guidance.

Renewable energy impacts
The potential impacts of renewable energy on wildlife dominates our scientific input to casework – our assessment of whether specific development proposals might threaten important sites and species.

To inform this input, we research the impacts of renewable energy technologies, in particular wind energy. For instance, we work with partners, including industry and government, to assess collision risk and displacement of birds. Tracking technologies are increasingly valuable tools for this work.

We seek to understand cumulative risks, across multiple sites. Finally, we use mapping approaches to express spatially the potential for conflict between renewable technologies and sensitive biodiversity, to better inform planning.

Who's involved

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Dr Benedict Gove

Senior conservation scientist, RSPB

benedict.gove@rspb.org.uk
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Dr David Douglas

Principal Conservation Scientist, Conservation Science

david.douglas@rspb.org.uk
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Dr Richard Bradbury

Head of Environmental Research, Conservation Science

richard.bradbury@rspb.org.uk
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Dr Matthew Carroll

Conservation Scientist, Conservation Science

matthew.carroll@rspb.org.uk
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Dr Steven Ewing

Senior Conservation Scientist, Conservation Science

steven.ewing@rspb.org.uk

Related publications

Observed and predicted effects of climate change on species abundance in protected areas

The dynamic nature and diversity of species’ responses to climate change poses significant difficulties for developing robust, long-term conservation strategies. One key question is whether existing ...

Date
03 November 2013
RSPB Authors
Dr Richard Bradbury, Dr Staffan Roos
Authors
Johnston, A., Ausden, M., Dodd, A.M., Bradbury, R.B., Chamberlain, D.E., Jiguet, F., Thomas, C.D., Cook, A.S.C.P., Newson, S.E., Ockendon, N., Rehfisch, M.M., Roos, S., Thaxter, C.B., Brown, A., Crick, H.Q.P., Douse, A., McCall, R.A., Pontier, H., Stroud, D.A. & Cadiou, B.
Published in
Nature Climate Change
View publication Details
International UK Seabirds Climate change Protected areas

The influence of climate and topography in patterns of territory establishment in a range-expanding bird

The Dartford Warbler Sylvia undata has recently expanded its range northwards and upwards in the UK, consistent with the hypothesis that this cold-sensitive species has responded to a warming climate....

Date
22 February 2011
RSPB Authors
Dr Richard Bradbury, Simon Wotton
Authors
Bradbury, R.B., Pearce-Higgins, J.W., Wotton, S.R., Conway, G.J. & Grice, P.V.
Published in
Ibis
View publication Details
Dartford warbler UK Climate change Protected areas

The utility of bioclimatic models for projecting future changes in the distribution of birds in response to climate change

Bioclimatic models, especially climatic envelope models, are a widely-used approach to assessing the likely future impacts of current rapid climatic change on species abundance and distribution. We...

Date
13 February 2012
RSPB Authors
Prof Rhys Green
Authors
Huntley, B. & Green, R.E.
View publication Details
Ptarmigan International Climate change

Projects

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Sustainable Shores

Last Updated
19 February 2018
Sub-themes
Impacts and conservation solutions
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The effects of wind farms on upland birds

Last Updated
03 July 2017
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The Energy Futures project

Last Updated
03 July 2017