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Climate Change: Insects

Volume 462: debated on Thursday 28 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessments have been made of the impact of climate change on the life cycle of (a) bees and (b) insect populations. (144210)

Losses of pollinators may be just one of the signals of the effects of climate change on our ecosystem goods and services that we need to respond to. The recently published DEFRA-funded review “England Biodiversity Strategy—Towards Adaptation to Climate Change” identified potential impacts of climate change on species and habitats. The report gave an overview of the types of impacts and their effects on a full range of species and habitats, under each of the England Biodiversity Strategy sectors, such as Agriculture or Woodland and Forestry. It did not look specifically at insect life cycles, although a few examples are given of effects on insects.

DEFRA also co-funded the MONARCH project (Modelling Natural Resource Impacts of Climate Change) which projected how the area that provides suitable climate for a particular species might change between now and 2080. Most of the insects covered in the MONARCH report (published in May 2007) were butterflies and showed a potential increase in suitable climate area. However there are clearly other insects at more northerly latitudes or higher altitudes or those that require for damp conditions that risk a loss or shift in suitable climate area.

Other research in this area is undertaken outside the Department. The previous (6th) and current (7th) EU research framework programmes have had major themes on the biological impacts of climate change. The Natural Environment Research Council draft strategy for 2007-12 lists as its principal science goal the prediction of regional and local impacts of climate change. DEFRA maintains close links with these programmes in Europe and the UK.

This is a rapidly developing field and there is a need to assemble evidence to prioritise research and adopt an integrated approach to guide policy responses. The England Biodiversity Strategy Climate Change Adaptation Workstream and the Climate Change Adaptation Network are helping this process.