A NEW report has highlighted the impact that rising temperatures are having on Scottish wildlife.

Compiled by nature charity WWF, ‘Feeling the Heat: The fate of nature beyond 1.5°C of global warming’ describes the jeopardy facing species such as Scotland’s mountain hare and puffin.

"Within a human lifetime, we have already seen extraordinary and unparalleled changes to our planet," declared WWF, pointing out that global wildlife populations had fallen an average of 68% since 1970, while 2020 marked the end of the hottest decade on record.

The report highlights 12 species from around the world, examining what’s at stake for them should the upcoming CO26 climate talks in Glasgow fail to reach agreement on keeping temperature rises below 1.5 degrees.

Amongst these is the mountain hare, the UK’s only true native hare, which lives in the Highlands of Scotland. The changing climate has caught the species out, as its evolved strategy to evade predators in winter time – a seasonal change to a white pelt – no longer works so well because of declining snow cover, leaving them more exposed and vulnerable.

Meanwhile at sea, the Atlantic puffin is struggling with the ocean temperature rise, which is bringing volatile weather that impacts on feeding and breeding. In particular, even a small change in temperature means that sandeels, a major source of food, can disappear entirely.

Environment and Food Policy Manager at WWF Scotland, Sheila George, said: “Scotland is rightly proud of its diverse and unique flora and fauna, but we need to wake up to the fact it is increasingly under threat from climate change. As this report shows, it’s not just snow leopards that are in danger, but our beloved Scottish species and habitats are too, with 1 in 9 under threat of extinction.

“Even small increases in temperature threaten many of the plants and animals that not only make Scotland unique, but that we also depend on for food and pollination. That’s why it’s so vital the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow are a success and agreement is reached to keep global temperatures below 1.5 degrees. World leaders must agree targets, and the actions necessary to achieve them, to keep the natural world we rely on safe and thriving for us and future generations.”