The Diversity of British Wildlife
This unit introduces the key species in Britain and includes examples of conservation successes. The British Isles are host to a wide variety of species and this unit will cover examples of invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. Understanding the diversity of species can aid in conservation efforts and help with protecting the natural world. This unit explores how current conservation efforts assist Britain’s wildlife.
British Wildlife throughout the Seasons
Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter each offer British wildlife with both opportunities and challenges. This unit identifies some of the strategies British wildlife adopt to cope with the changing seasons and associated weather changes. Learn about topics such as migration and hibernation and how these strategies maximise the chance of survival. The impact that climate change is having on British wildlife is also explored in this unit.
British Wildlife Studies Course
The British Wildlife Studies course introduces the diversity of wildlife found throughout Britain.
The course demonstrates how British wildlife have adapted to the different conditions in Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.
Climate change and how climate change may affect the native wildlife of Britain is also be examined.
The British Wildlife Studies course is fascinating, exploring diversity of species and conservation methods.
Great Britain is host to a wide variety of different species, from the very small, even microscopic, to the very large and majestic, such as the white-tailed eagle. A variety of different habitats can also be found in Great Britain such as heathlands, mountains, marine environments and freshwater habitats. Each individual species is perfectly adapted to survival in their chosen habitats throughout the Great British year. In order to protect the wildlife of Britain an understanding of British wildlife is necessary in order to help inform conservation plans, mitigate species decline and help to ensure the ongoing survival of British wildlife.
Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter each offer British wildlife with both opportunities and challenges. For example, Winter is a difficult season for British wildlife, in order to survive animals must either find enough food to see them through the winter, enter a state of dormancy and sleep away the winter months or migrate and leave Britain for warmer climates.
The course identifies some of the strategies British wildlife adopt to cope with the changing seasons and associated weather changes. Climate change is having an impact on British Wildlife and this is explored in the course.
British Wildlife – Species
Invertebrates such as spiders, woodlice, slugs and snails lie dormant during the winter, taking refuge in rockeries, woodpiles, outbuildings and garden sheds. Sometimes they will seek warmth from within our houses which is quite common for species such as the house spider.
Some species of butterfly enter a state of dormancy and can be found with their wings closed often hanging upside down in dark corners of sheds or garages. Five species of butterfly overwinter in Britain; small tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae), comma (Polygonia c-album), peacock (Aglais io), brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni) and red admiral ( Vanessa Atalanta). If the winter is mild, then these species can be seen emerging as early as January.
Amphibians and reptiles
These animals usually spend the winter months in a dormant state. They do not enter true hibernation, which is only seen in mammals however, the term hibernation is often used to describe the overwintering of amphibians and reptiles. Once the colder weather begins amphibians and reptiles retreat to secluded spots such as log pies, piles of stones, holes in the ground and compost heaps. These sites are known as hibernacula. Sometimes, many different species such as snakes, newts and frogs, come together to share the same space in which to spend the winter. The common frog, however, may often spend the winter in the mud at the bottom of a pond, gaining oxygen by gas exchange through the skin. This can be fatal if the pond freezes over but is otherwise safe. Due to being exothermic (cold-blooded) warm winters days can awaken amphibians and reptiles from their state of dormancy and they may be seen basking or hunting.
In order to survive lower temperatures birds have adopted different strategies. Many species migrate to other countries which are warmer and where there is a plentiful food supply. For example, swallows migrate to Africa during Britain’s winter months. Before long journeys birds will put on fat reserves some birds will double their body weight with fat in preparation for migration. However, swallows, martins and swifts do not do this as they need to feed on flying insects during their long journey. Many wildfowl stay in Britain throughout winter and indeed some migrate to Britain during the winter to escape the freezing temperatures of their breeding grounds such as the Bewick’s swan (Cygnus columbianus bewickii). Wildfowl can often be seen standing on frozen lakes and ponds. They are able to do this because of an adaptation know as countercurrent heat exchange which reduces the amount of heat and energy lost.
Only three animals in Britain are true hibernators; dormice, hedgehogs and bats. Hibernation entails a drop in the animals temperature, for example, the hedgehog has a normal temperature of 35C but during hibernation their body temperature will be the same as the outside temperature. Breathing and heart rates also decrease. Prior to hibernation animals increase their food intake in order to build up fat reserves. During hibernation the animal enters a torpid state, but they will not remain like this throughout the whole of winter. Periods of torpidity and broken by periods of euthermia whereby the animal heats up, wakes up and may move around for a time. Pipistrelle bats will often forage on warm winter nights and hedgehogs awaken naturally every 5 to 27 days to relocate to another nest.