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Climate change and insectivore ecology

Vafidis, J; Smith, J; Thomas, R

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Jim Vafidis
Senior Lecturer in Conservation Science

J Smith

R Thomas


The impacts of climate change on natural populations are only beginning to be understood. Although some important changes are already occurring, in the future these are predicted to be more substantial and of greater ecological significance. Insects are a key taxonomic group for understanding the ecological impacts of climate change, due to their responsiveness to environmental change and importance as food for other organisms. Insects are highly sensitive to rising temperatures, changes in rainfall patterns and erratic weather conditions, driving rapid short-term variations in their abundance, mobility, distribution and phenology. Such variations represent changes in their availability as prey to insectivores, a diverse range of insect-eating animals that include mammals, fish, amphibians, reptiles, and birds. The impacts of these changes on the ecology of insectivores are complex and include population increases or decreases, broad-scale shifts in distribution, and changes in behavioural traits such as foraging strategy, investment in parental care, and the timing of breeding and migration. Although some insectivorous species are able to respond to- and even benefit from- climate change, those that fail to respond appropriately may struggle to reproduce, disperse and survive, leading to population decline and ultimately, to extinction.


Vafidis, J., Smith, J., & Thomas, R. (2019). Climate change and insectivore ecology. In Encyclopaedia of Life Sciences. John Wiley and Sons Ltd.

Acceptance Date Sep 9, 2018
Online Publication Date Jan 16, 2019
Publication Date Jan 1, 2019
Deposit Date Jan 24, 2019
Publicly Available Date Jan 24, 2019
Journal Encyclopaedia of Life Sciences
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Book Title Encyclopaedia of Life Sciences
ISBN 9780470015902
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