Across Europe, the European Commission (2006a) states that the threat of extinction is faced by:
• 42 per cent of native mammals
• 43 per cent of birds
• 45 per cent of butterflies
• 30 per cent of amphibians
• 45 per cent of reptiles
• 52 per cent of freshwater fish.
In addition, the Commission states that most major marine fish stocks are below safe biological limits; 800 European plant species are at risk of global extinction and, although unquantified, there are expected to be significant changes in small though ecologically important and highly diverse groups including invertebrate and microbial diversity.
In coastal areas, the Marine Conservation Society states that:
• North Sea temperature has risen by 0.6°C in the past 40 years
• North Sea fish have moved north in the past 25 years due to rising sea temperature
• Warm water plankton species have moved north by 10 degrees latitude since 1960
• Sea level around the UK has risen by about 10cm since 1900
• If global emissions continue to rise at current trends, ocean acidity will continue to rise
and the pH of seawater could fall by 0.5 units by 2100.
This briefing considers the threat that climate change poses to Scotland’s species. Some species are able to migrate to new places as their original habitat becomes inhospitable but for others migration is not an option.
This briefing discusses four case studies: the plants that live in snowbeds in Scotland’s mountains butterflies; and seabirds and considers how Scotland’s changing climate is affecting them.
The briefing also considers the framework of species protection across Europe and the European Union’s commitment to halt biodiversity loss by 2010.