Change in Species

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Agricultural Threats ] Climate Change & Agriculture ] Change in Habitats ] [ Change in Species ] Basic Conservation Measures ] GMO's ]

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 Changes in arable farming practices have been identified as important factors in the decline of wildlife. Significant declines in the brown hare have been recorded (Tapper & Barnes, 1986), associated with changes in the availability of high quality food at certain times of year. Declines in the Pipistrelle Bat are in part likely to have resulted from lower abundance of insect prey in farmland. Information on the decline of arthropods in farmland habitats has been published by the Game Conservancy Trust’s Sussex Study (Potts, 1991). In the Sussex study area, between 1972 and 1990, arthropods have declined by  4.2% per annum (excluding springtails and mites), with many groups of beneficial insects, such as aphid predators and game bird food items, declining at faster rates. Bee species are particularly threatened. A range of cornfield weeds, such as corn buttercup and shepherd’s-needle, have declined markedly this century, to the extent that some species are now extinct in the UK. These annual flowers are dependent on the arable ecosystem, which is characterised by regular soil cultivation.

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Useful Fact: Seventeen bat species live in Britain. The mouse-eared bat was declared EXTINCT from Britain in 1990 but an individual has since been recorded.  7 bat species are listed as priority species for conservation under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan..

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It is estimated that 170 native species in the UK became extinct in the 20th Century including:

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One in 14 of dragonfly species

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One in 20 of our butterflies

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One in 50 of our fish and mammals (DoE, 1996, Fuller et al, 1994)

CLICK HERE for an overview and further links of UK wildlife law and legislation and Countryside Law.

CLICK HERE for The Wildlife Trusts Home page and links.

CLICK HERE  for University of Swansea web pages on the effect of oil spill on sea mammals in Pembrokeshire.

 

Number of species

  Known British Known World Still to be discovered (world Estimate)
Insects 22 500 c 1m 8m - 100m
Flowering plants 1 400 250 000 300 000 - 500 000
Arthropods (other than insects) 3 000 190 000 750 000 - 1m
Non-arthropod invertebrates 3 000 90 000 ?
Lichens 1 500 17 000 ?
Bryophytes 1 000 14 000 ?
Ferns 80 12 000 ?
Algae 15 000 40 000 200 000 - 10m
Protozoa 20 000 40 000 100 000 - 200 000
Fungi  15 000 70 000 1m - 1.5m
Breeding birds 210 9 881 It is estimated that the total world species for vertebrates is 45 000 with a total of 50 000 to be discovered
Wintering birds 180 N/A
Freshwater fish 38 8 500
Reptiles 6 6 500
Amphibians 6 4 000
Mammals 48 4 327
Bacteria ? 4 000 400 00 - 3m
Viruses ? 5 000 500 000
Total 88 000 1 770 000  
NOTE: The numbers refer to terrestrial and freshwater species only
Source: Spedding (1996). Based on Systematics agenda 2000 (1994), and UK Biodiversity Action Plan (HMSO, 1994) 

CLICK HERE for the Wildlife Trusts A-Z of British Wildlife section , this contains information on all plants, wildlife, mammals, birds, invertebrates, marine, reptiles and amphibians. Includes colour photographs and information.

Pause for thought........The presence of Kingfishers on a pond lake or river is thought to be an indication of what? (the answer to this is on the outside link)

 

Birds

Species decline can be directly linked with habitat decline. One of the key environmental indicators are birds, owing to their place in the food chain and the relative ease by which they can be monitored. Declines in farmland birds have been identified for a number of species characteristic of arable and mixed farmland (Fuller et al., 1995). These birds feed on seeds, invertebrates or both, sometimes at different times of year.  The decline in bird species considered specialist farmland birds such as the Skylark and Grey partridge has been much greater than generalists who population has remained stable over the last 35 years.

   Population decline in farmland birds 1970-2006

Source: DEFRA       

 The following is an article reproduced, courtesy of the RSPB

 

This article first appeared in the September 1998 issue of FieldFare, the RSPB newsletter on agriculture and wildlife.

 

Changes in populations of farmland birds in rural Britain, 1970 - 1995

Birds in decline Birds on the increase
Tree sparrow  - 89% Mallard + 36%
Grey partridge - 82% Cuckoo + 38%
Turtle dove - 77% Chaffinch + 40%
Bullfinch - 76% Great tit + 42%
Song thrush - 73% Pheasant + 57%
Lapwing - 67% Coal tit + 82%
Reed bunting - 61% Magpie + 138%
Skylark - 58% Carrion crow +151%
Linnet - 52% Wood pigeon +154%
Swallow - 43% Blackcap +170%
Blackbird - 42% Jackdaw +195%
Mistle thrush - 39% Stock dove +246%
Moorhen - 37% Great spotted woodpecker +303%
Sedge warbler - 35%    
Starling - 23%    

Source: Campell L H & Cooke AS (eds) 1997. The Indirect Effects Of Pesticides on Birds. Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Peterborough

 

Pause for thought.....Are changes in farming systems:

  1. Responsible for the decline of the starling (23%)?

  2. Responsible for the dramatic increase (303%) in Great Spotted Woodpecker  populations?

CLICK HERE for Case study, The Grey Partridge and Pesticides.  Game Conservancy Trust report.

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Agricultural Threats ] Climate Change & Agriculture ] Change in Habitats ] [ Change in Species ] Basic Conservation Measures ] GMO's ]

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