2012: A Difficult Year for Wildlife

Posted by Sara King BSc (Hons) AIEEM on 10/12/2012

The UK experienced the wettest summer for 100 years, with recent flooding affecting the whole country. The wet weather has led to poor foraging conditions for a range of species, particularly bats. Bats forage on invertebrates and usually require dry conditions to leave the roost to forage during the summer months. High rainfall reduces invertebrate activity, and therefore limits foraging opportunities for bats. Wet conditions are likely to have restricted bat activity this year, which may mean that many do not have enough fat reserves to survive the winter. Wet conditions this summer may also have affected maternity roosts and breeding success.

Berries, fruit and nuts have been scarce this year. Very low levels of fruiting hazel have been recorded by Ecosulis ecologists during dormouse nut searches this year, limiting dormouse nut searches. Other species, including bramble, blackthorn and holly have all generally produced low fruit yields this year. This will have implications for a range of foraging wildlife, including badgers, birds and dormice.

There are some species that may have benefitted from this year’s wet weather. After a couple of very dry years in 2010 and 2011, increased rainfall this year has led to ponds across the country filling up to their maximum. This should have benefitted amphibians, including great crested newts, which breed within ponds during the spring months. Recent dry years have resulted in dry ponds, which do not provide suitable breeding habitat for amphibians.

The impact of the wet weather will not be fully understood until survey and monitoring works are undertaken in 2013. This will give an idea of which species were affected by the limited foraging opportunities.  

To increase foraging opportunities, developments can incorporate appropriate cost effective and practical mitigation within schemes. This can include appropriate planting and management. For more information on how you can increase foraging opportunities for wildlife, visit out Landscape and Urban Design for Wildlife blog