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Daddy long legs are latest victims of global warming

PUBLISHED: 14:22 25 March 2009 | UPDATED: 16:02 07 September 2010

Warm summers are dramatically reducing populations of daddy long legs, which is in turn is having a severe impact on birds that rely on them for food, scientists have shown. This key finding comes from a new study by RSPB Scotland scientists whose researc

Warm summers are dramatically reducing populations of daddy long legs, which is in turn is having a severe impact on birds that rely on them for food, scientists have shown.

This key finding comes from a new study by RSPB Scotland scientists whose research shows how increasing late summer temperatures dry out peatland soils, killing cranefly larvae, resulting in a drop of up to 95 per cent in numbers of adult craneflies emerging the following spring. The resulting scarcity of craneflies for a wide range of upland birds like golden plover, means starvation and death for many chicks.

Lead Author Dr James Pearce Higgins of RSPB Scotland said: "Many studies predict dire effects of climate change upon wildlife but this study provides a rare example of where such predictions are based on a detailed understanding of a species' requirements, linking the effects of climate on food resources to changes in breeding success and population size."

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