NEW RESEARCH suggests that the populations and distributions of 75% of the 3000 plant and animal species in England are likely to be significantly affected by climate change by the end of the century.

A newly published paper in the journal Biological Conservation concluded that, given a 2°C increase in average global temperature by the 2080s, over a quarter of species were judged to be at high to medium risk of losing a substantial proportion of their currently suitable ranges, whilst just over half could significantly expand their ranges.

The most vulnerable species were northern and upland species, including birds like the Dotterel and Red Grouse, flowering plants such as crowberry, and damp loving mosses and liverworts.

Conversely, wasps, bees, ants and many southerly distributed species such as Dartford Warbler and emperor dragonfly were thought likely to thrive in response to warmer temperatures and would be able to colonise new areas assuming suitable habitats are available.

Environmental research head at the RSPB Centre for Conservation Science, Dr Richard Bradbury, who was an author on the paper, said: “There is a growing volume of evidence that climate change is already having an impact on nature in the UK. This presents both risks and opportunities, highlighted by this new paper. We can help some species to expand their ranges into England, as their traditional homes elsewhere in Europe become less suitable.

"We must grasp the opportunity to both strengthen our network of protected areas and to manage our wider landscapes more sympathetically so that nature can thrive.”