Testing the effectiveness of climate change adaptation principles for biodiversity conservation.
Within the UK conservation community, the most widely quoted sets of adaptation principles are those produced for the UK Biodiversity Partnership and the England Biodiversity Strategy. The principles are based on good ecological theory, but there has been very little practical testing or assessment of which approaches work best in particular, real-life circumstances. Without stronger empirical evidence of this sort, it is difficult to translate high level principles into practical initiatives on the ground and to prioritise scarce resources. This project has been established to start the process of testing and evaluating these high level adaptation principles. The UK is fortunate to have a number of long term monitoring datasets which allow changes in populations to be identified and relationships to a range of habitat and landscape variables identified. Two of the best datasets are for birds and butterflies with wide geographical coverage, long time series and annual data. The long time series allow us to test the sensitivity of species to year-to-year variations in the weather, long-term climatic trends and one-off climatic extremes. This work is part of a process of developing the evidence base to ensure that ecological networks are developed in ways that promote their resilience to climate change and thereby ensure their long-term value.