Safe from the effects of climate change

No Insectinction – how to solve the insect declines crisis

Safe spaces for insects

Safe from the effects of climate change

Climate change is widely recognised as being one of the major long term threats to biodiversity.

Most recent predictions are that our climate will become warmer, patterns of rainfall will change, and the number and frequency of extreme weather events will increase as a result of climate change, and this will inevitably have an impact on insect populations.

Indeed with the majority of insect species having relatively short life cycles and good powers of mobility they are likely to be one of the first groups to show the impact of a changing climate.

Cold-loving species will retreat northwards and uphill, while warm-loving species will increase their range and species normally found further south in Europe may become established in the UK. Temperature plays a vital role in the breeding success of cold-blooded organisms and therefore the population size and viability of many invertebrate species. It is probable that small changes in temperature will be enough to jeopardise the survival of some invertebrate populations. This effect will most likely be seen in cold-adapted montane species whose very survival may be at stake; however, it is also evident in other habitats.

Extreme events such as sustained warm spells and heavy rain will become more common. Drier, warmer conditions, coupled with increased pressure on water supplies will lead to low flows in chalkstreams and headwaters, or their flow stopping altogether.

Wetter conditions and an increase in the frequency of floods is also likely to have a significant effect on insect populations. Ground-dwelling insects may be drowned or washed away, and for those that survive, the catastrophic loss of their food resource may prove fatal.

We can stop, and reverse the global declines in our insects, but only if everyone pulls together to do their bit.

Small steps can have a huge impact if they all fall at the same time Five things you can do to reverse insect declines

(c) S. Falk

What has to happen?

  • Urgent action is required to ensure that we meet the ambitious targets for reductions in emissions.
  • An assessment of the vulnerability of terrestrial and freshwater invertebrates to climate change should be undertaken.
  • Climate change adaptation and mitigation plans should be produced for key habitats and species.

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