Drought 'may hit at-risk wildlife'

A A A

Threatened wildlife such as water voles could be hit by the continuing dry weather across parts of the country, the Wildlife Trusts warned today.

This year has seen an unusually dry spring, and despite some recent rainfall the dry weather is set to continue across much of the country into June, leaving rivers, streams, ponds and lakes all low on water in some areas.



According to Suffolk Wildlife Trust's water for wildlife adviser Penny Hemphill, falling water levels increase the risk of water voles being eaten by predators as they have to travel further down exposed banks to the water.



And if ditches or small streams dry out altogether the voles, immortalised by Ratty in The Wind In The Willows, will be forced to move to new sites.



Cows and sheep grazing what little grass there is on river banks will also force them to move to find cover.



The knock-on effects of these problems tend to be seen the following year, Ms Hemphill said.



"In a very dry year after a normal year, you will get a good population and they will attempt to breed, but the following year the population crashes and it takes two or three years for the population to recover."



She said the dry weather added extra pressure on the voles, which have suffered massive declines in recent decades due to loss of habitat and predation by invasive mink, but which have recently seen their fortunes turn around in some places as a result of conservation efforts to help them.



"It's just losing that optimal habitat that's putting pressure on the population. It's an added stress on water vole populations," she said.



Elsewhere in the country, Northumberland Wildlife Trust said ponds were much lower than usual, posing a problem for great-crested newts whose eggs, laid in submerged vegetation, are being left high and dry.



And Staffordshire Wildlife Trust said wet grasslands were drying up too quickly, affecting wading birds such as lapwings as the habitat attracts fewer insects, depriving chicks of food.



But the dry spell has benefited some wildlife, with Durham Wildlife Trust reporting that the exposed muddy regions round ponds at Rainton Meadows, Wearside, have favoured wading birds such as the little ringed plover and are attracting the rare Temminck's stint.



And Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust said it had seen very successful nesting by coots and great crested grebes, while dragonflies and damselflies had been seen in good numbers and earlier than usual.



The Wildlife Trusts said there was a need for more long-term monitoring of species such as water voles to see how they cope with dry periods, which could become more common as the climate changes.



The organisation also said there was a need for more extensive and robust wetland areas to support wildlife, and a reduction in the amount of water taken from rivers and groundwater by increasing water efficiency and cutting consumption.

Sport
wimbledonScot will face Ivo Karlovic next
News
Hillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Life and Style
Kissing
life
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test