British wildlife head north as planet warms

LONDON (AFP) – Biologists in Britain have discerned a mass migration of fauna over the past 25 years as animals try to outrun global warming by heading for cooler climes in the north.

Studies by the University of York have shown that 80 percent of some 300 monitored species are on the move, abandoning areas they have inhabited for millennia and heading 70 to 100 kilometres (40 to 60 miles) north.

“Our sample is large enough to be sure about the pattern of change,” said Chris Thomas, professor of conservation biology at the university.

“Eighty percent is a surprisingly large percentage … It’s amazing how strong and already visible is the signature of climate change.”

Animals studied by the university included insects, mammals, vertebrates and invertebrates. Seventy percent of the species found to be on the move were heading to higher ground, up to 150 metres (495 feet) above their normal habitats.

Some scientists predict that average temperatures in Britain will increase by 3.5 degrees Celsius (38.3 degrees Fahrenheit) between now and 2080. Over the past century they have climbed just 0.6 degrees, but the 1990s was the hottest decade on records going back some 400 years.

“Average global temperatures in 2100 will probably be higher than for at least two, and quite probably 10 million or more years,” Shaw said.

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research credit to MD – thx

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