Our bioscientists are playing a key role in identifying the impact of climate change on plant and animal life.
The research of our Conservation Ecology Group (CEG) looks at helping different species to adapt to the effects of a changing world.
The models they have created are being used around the world to inform conservation policy to help species cope with current and future climate change in a highly human modified landscape.
Future climate change
Their species distribution and abundance models have been fundamental in identifying the potential impacts of future climate change on bird species.
Our researchers found a systematic signal of recent climate change having affected populations of both widespread and protected birds across Europe and USA.
They showed that projected shifts in tropical species ranges will have profound impacts on their future conservation within protected area networks, recommending that simulations can be used as a guide for conservation actions.
The research has also identified species that are vulnerable to climate change and that might need help to colonise new areas.
Our researchers have collaborated extensively with BirdLife International, a global conservation body, to estimate the threat of ongoing climatic change to BirdLife’s global Important Birds and Biodiversity Network.
Their research was instrumental in the retention of the EU Birds Directive and the conservation policies and strategies of EU member states.
It has also impacted the United Nations (UN) Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Aichi Biodiversity Targets policy, as part of the UN Environment Programme.
And their work has influenced the IUCN Guidelines for Assessing Species Vulnerability to Climate Change, used by protected area and conservation managers and planners globally, to implement changes based on better information about species’ vulnerabilities to climate.
Find out more
- Learn more about the work of Professor Stephen Willis, Director of Research in our Department of Biosciences, Steven has worked with Professor Philip Stephens and Professor Brian Huntley on this research.
- Visit our Conservation Ecology Group web pages.
- Read journal articles on assessing the performance of EU Nature Legislation in protecting target bird species, effectiveness of conservation site networks under climate change, management framework for networks of protected areas and impact of climatic change on European bird populations.
- Interested in studying at Durham? Explore our undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Department of Biosciences.