Washington, March 4 (ANI): In what is the world's first indicator of the climate change impacts on wildlife at a continental scale, scientists have determined that climate change is already having a detectable impact on birds across Europe.
The finding is a result of a study by Durham University scientists working with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
They have shown a strong link between recent population changes of individual species and their projected future range changes, associated with climate change, among a number of widespread and common European birds, including the goldfinch and the lesser spotted woodpecker.
By pulling together Europe-wide monitoring data, the team has compiled an indicator showing how climate change is affecting wildlife across Europe.
The European Union (EU) has adopted the indicator as an official measure of the impacts of climate change on the continent's wildlife; the first indicator of its kind.
According to Dr Stephen Willis, of Durham University, "The impact of climatic changes, both positive and negative, can now be summarised in a single indicator which we've called the Climatic Impact Indicator."
A period of stable annual average temperatures in Europe ended in the early 1980s, and this new Indicator shows that climate change is affecting many species, but in different ways.
Climate change is having an adverse effect on many birds, though some species are actually benefiting from the recent changes.
"Our indicator is the biodiversity equivalent of the FTSE index, only instead of summarising the changing fortunes of businesses, it summarises how biodiversity is changing due to climate change," said Dr Willis.
"Those birds we predict should fare well under climate change have been increasing since the mid-80s, and those we predict should do badly have declined over the same period. The worry is that the declining group actually consists of 75 per cent of the species we studied," he explained.
The Climate Change Indicator combines two independent strands of work; bioclimate envelope-modelling and observed populations trends in European birds, derived from the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme.
When a bird's population changes in line with the projection, the indicator goes up. Species whose observed trend does not fit the projection cause the indicator to decline.
According to RSPB's Dr Richard Gregory, "We hear a lot about climate change, but our paper shows that its effects are being felt right now. The results show the number of species being badly affected outnumbers the species that might benefit by three to one." (ANI)