Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Flying in the face of climate change

04.10.2005


In 75 years’ time, the UK could be plagued by fly populations 250% up on today’s levels if forecasts of climate change prove accurate, ecologists have warned. Writing in a special climate change issue of the British Ecological Society’s Journal of Applied Ecology, Dave Goulson and colleagues from the University of Southampton found that if the worst case scenario for climate change occurs - a 5 deg C rise in temperature by 2080 - house fly numbers in the UK could explode.

Studies on the ecological impact of climate change has to date largely focused on butterflies and birds, two groups for which data on distribution and abundance abounds. Until now, ecologists have been less keen to study flies, but says Dr Goulson: “The annoyance and public health risks associated with large populations of flies are considerable, and potential increases in their abundance as a result of climate change are a cause for concern.”

Between January 2000 and December 2003 Dr Goulson and his colleagues monitored populations of calyptrate fly species - including the house fly Musca domestica and bluebottles Calliphora spp. - at six sites in Hampshire, three of which were near landfill sites. Over the four years they set almost 10,000 yellow sticky traps and caught more than 100,000 calyptrate flies.



Using the first three years’ data for weekly fly catches and prevailing weather conditions (temperature, rainfall and humidity) Dr Goulson constructed a model of the relationship between weather and fly populations. He then tested the model’s predictions against the actual number of flies caught in the fourth year of the study.

According to Dr Goulson: “Our study demonstrates that calyptrate flies are likely to be among the species that respond positively to a warming climate: population fluctuations were strongly determined by weather and we predict that small increases in temperature can lead to major increases in fly density.”

The results are important because they show how climate change could impact on disease in the UK. The adults of many species of calyptrate flies feed on human food as well as refuse and excrement and therefore act as important disease vectors. Up to 10 million flies can emerge from just 1 ha of household waste.

Dr Goulson’s findings could also mean that fewer pesticides need to be sprayed on landfill sites to control fly populations in future. “We successfully predicted M. domestica numbers from simple and readily recorded weather variables. This could be used to limit prophylactic spraying to periods when climatic conditions are likely to favour fly population increases,” he says.

Other papers in the special climate change issue of the Journal of Applied Ecology include:

* The British Ecological Society lecture on climate change: the science and the policy, given by Professor Sir David King at last year’s BES annual meeting.

* Recommendations by Norman Ratcliffe and colleagues from the RSPB on how best to conserve UK populations of the Red Listed black-tailed godwit. The birds are restricted to a handful of sites in England, two of which - the Ouse and Nene Washes - are floodwater storage structures protecting local property and farmland against flooding. However, if these areas flood in spring, the nesting godwits suffer and Dr Ratcliffe’s modelling suggests that to conserve the godwits, habitats need to be created outside the flood areas.

* Changes should be made to the way forests are managed, in order to reduce the increasing risk of forest fire as a result of climate change. Research by Allison Cocke and colleagues from Northern Arizona University shows that fire suppression management of forests on the San Francisco Peaks in Arizona has substantially increased the risk of devastating fires in these ecosystems.

While evidence mounts for the impacts of climate change on biodiversity, this special issue of the Journal of Applied Ecology illustrates the need for more research into how best to cope with climate change. According to the journal’s editorial by Dr Philip Hulme of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Banchory: “While climate change impacts may be severe, they are often exacerbated by current management practices, such as the construction of sea defences, flood management and fire exclusion. In many cases, adaptation approaches geared to safeguard economic interests run contrary to options for biodiversity conservation.”

“There is a need to ensure that environmental and conservation policies not only address climate change but are sufficiently flexible to respond to rapid ecosystem alteration. Awareness among policy makers is increasing and hopefully further catastrophes will not be required to catalyse global efforts,” Hulme says.

Becky Allen | alfa
Further information:
http://www.ntlworld.com

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Global threat to primates concerns us all
19.01.2017 | Deutsches Primatenzentrum GmbH - Leibniz-Institut für Primatenforschung

nachricht Reducing household waste with less energy
18.01.2017 | FIZ Karlsruhe – Leibniz-Institut für Informationsinfrastruktur GmbH

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New technology for mass-production of complex molded composite components

23.01.2017 | Process Engineering

Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

23.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

The interactome of infected neural cells reveals new therapeutic targets for Zika

23.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>