Fauna of Scotland

Fauna of Scotland

The fauna of Scotland is generally typical of the north-west European part of the Palearctic ecozone, although several of the country's larger mammals were hunted to extinction in historic times and human activity has also led to various species of wildlife being introduced. Scotland's diverse temperate environments support 62 species of wild mammals, including a population of Wild Cats, important numbers of Grey and Harbour Seals and the most northerly colony of Bottlenose Dolphins in the world. [cite paper | last = Thompson | first = P.M. | coauthors = Corkrey, R.; Lusseau, D.; Lusseau, S.M.; Quick, N.;Durban, J.W.; Parsons, K.M. & Hammond, P.S. | year = 2006 | title = An assessment of the current condition of the Moray Firth bottlenose dolphin population | location = Perth | publisher = Scottish Natural Heritage Commissioned Report No. 175] Matthews (1968) p. 254.] cite web | url = http://www.snh.org.uk/scottish/species/mammals.asp | title = Mammals | accessdaymonth = 1 January | accessyear = 2007 | publisher = Scottish Natural Heritage]

Many populations of moorland birds, including Blackcock and the Red Grouse, live here, and the country has internationally significant nesting grounds for seabirds such as the Northern Gannet. [Fraser Darling and Boyd (1969) pp. 7, 98–102.] The Golden Eagle has become a national icon, [Benvie (1994) p. 12.] and White-tailed Eagles and Ospreys have recently re-colonised the land. The Scottish Crossbill is the only endemic vertebrate species in the British Isles. [Gooders (1994) p. 273.]

Scotland’s seas are among the most biologically productive in the world; it is estimated that the total number of Scottish marine species exceeds 40,000.cite web | url = http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2005/03/sfifs/2 | title = Inshore Fisheries in Scotland| accessdaymonth = 24 August | accessyear = 2008 | publisher = The Scottish Government] The Darwin Mounds are an important area of deep sea cold water coral reefs discovered in 1988. Inland, nearly 400 genetically distinct populations of Atlantic Salmon live in Scottish rivers. Of the 42 species of fish found in the country's fresh waters, half have arrived by natural colonisation and half by human introduction.

Only six amphibians and four land reptiles are native to Scotland, but many species of invertebrates live here that are otherwise rare in the United Kingdom (UK). [Miles and Jackman (1991) p. 48.] An estimated 14,000 species of insect, including rare bees and butterflies protected by conservation action plans, inhabit Scotland. Conservation agencies in the UK are concerned that climate change, especially its potential effects on mountain plateaus and marine life, threaten much of the fauna of Scotland. [See for example Johnston, I. (29.11.2006) "Sea change as plankton head north'". Edinburgh. "The Scotsman". This report quotes James Lovelock's concern that global warming will "kill billions" of people over the coming century.]


Scotland enjoys a diversity of temperate environments, incorporating deciduous and coniferous woodlands, and moorland, montane, estuarine, freshwater, oceanic, and tundra landscapes.cite web | url = http://www.snh.org.uk/scottish/settings/settings.asp | title = Scottish wildlife habitats | publisher = Scottish Natural Heritage | accessdaymonth = 2 January | accessyear = 2007] About 14% of Scotland is wooded, much of it in forestry plantations, but before humans cleared the land it supported much larger boreal Caledonian and broad-leaved forests. [Although no one denies that past forests were much larger, they disagree about the timing and causes of the reduction. Many writers, from the 16th century author Hector Boece to the 20th century naturalist Frank Fraser Darling, believed that the woods were much more extensive in Roman times than today. However, it is now thought that deforestation of the Southern Uplands, caused by climate and by people, was well underway when the legions arrived. See Smout (2007) pp. 20–32.] Although much reduced, significant remnants of the native Scots Pine woodlands can be found. [cite book | last = Preston | first = C.D. | coauthors = Pearman, D.A., & Dines, T.D. | year = 2002 | title = New Atlas of the British and Irish Flora | publisher = Oxford University Press] Seventeen per cent of Scotland is covered by heather moorland and peatland. Caithness and Sutherland have one of the world's largest and most intact areas of blanket bog, which supports a distinctive wildlife community. [cite paper | last = Ratcliffe | first = D.A. | date = 7 October 1998 | title = Flow Country:the Peatlands of Caithness and Sutherland | publisher = Joint Nature Conservation Committee] [cite web | url = http://www.snh.org.uk/scottish/nhighland/peatlandsofcsl.asp | title = North Highland: Peatlands of Caithness & Sutherland | publisher = Scottish Natural Heritage | accessdaymonth = 2 January | accessyear = 2007] Seventy-five per cent of Scotland's land is classed as agricultural (including some moorland) while urban areas account for around 3%. The coastline is convert|11803|km|mi long, and the number of islands with terrestrial vegetation is nearly 800, about 600 of them lying off the west coast. Scotland has more than 90% of the volume and 70% of the total surface area of fresh water in the United Kingdom. There are more than 30,000 freshwater lochs and 6,600 river systems.

Under the auspices of the European Union's Habitats Directive, as of December 2007 a total of 239 sites in Scotland covering more than convert|8750|km2|mi2|lk=out had been accepted by European Commission as Special Areas of Conservation (SAC). [ [http://www.jncc.gov.uk/ProtectedSites/SACselection/SAC_list.asp?Country=S "SACs in Scotland"] Joint Nature Conservation Committee. Retrieved on 23 August 2008.] cite web | url = http://www.snh.org.uk/trends/seas/default.asp | title = Trends: The Seas around Scotland | publisher = Scottish Natural Heritage Quoting the Scottish Office. (1998). "People and nature. A new approach to SSSI designations in Scotland". The Scottish Office, Edinburgh. Retrieved on 2 January 2007.] Scotland’s seas are among the most biologically productive in the world and contain 40,000 or more species. Twenty-four of the SACs are marine sites, and a further nine are coastal with marine and non-marine elements.cite web | url = http://www.snh.org.uk/pdfs/trends/seas/Seas_Part1.pdf | title = Knowledge of the Marine Environment | accessdaymonth = 1 August | accessyear = 2007 | publisher = Scottish Natural Heritage | format = pdf] These marine elements extend to an area of around convert|350|km2|mi2. The Darwin Mounds, covering about convert|100|km2|mi2, are being considered as the first offshore SAC. ["Offshore" in this context means not incorporating any land.]


Scotland was entirely covered in ice during the Pleistocene glaciations. [Save for the Atlantic outlier of St Kilda. Maclean (1972) p. 20.] As the post-glacial weather warmed, mammals migrated through the landscape. Mainland Britain has only two-thirds of the species that reached Scandinavia, and the Hebridean islands off Scotland's west coast have only half those of Britain. [Murray (1973) p. 72.] Sixty-two species of mammal live wild in and around Scotland including 13 species found in coastal waters. The populations of a third of the land mammal species are thought to be in decline due to factors including environmental pollution, habitat fragmentation, changes in agricultural practices, particularly overgrazing, and competition from introduced species.cite web | url = http://www.snh.org.uk/trends/trends_notes/pdf/terrestrial%20species/land%20mammals.pdf | title = National Heritage Trends | publisher = Scottish Natural Heritage | accessdaymonth = 1 January | accessyear = 2007 | format = pdf] No mammal species are unique to Scotland, although the St. Kilda Field Mouse, "Apodemus sylvaticus hirtensi", is an endemic subspecies of the Wood Mouse that reaches twice the size of its mainland cousins, [Benvie (2004) p. 645.] and the Orkney Vole or Cuttick, "Microtus arvalis orcadensis" found only in the Orkney archipelago, is a sub-species of the Common Vole. It may have been introduced by early settlers about 4,000 years ago. [cite web | url = http://www.snh.org.uk/pdfs/about/orkneyvole1.pdf | title = Orkney vole | publisher = Scottish Natural Heritage | accessdaymonth = 1 January | accessyear = 2007 | format = pdf]


The representation of the weasel family (Mustelidae) in Scotland is typical of Britain as a whole save that the Polecat is absent and that Scotland is the UK's stronghold of the Pine Marten, [Corbet and Ovenden (1984) pp. 180–86.] although the purity of the latter breed is threatened by a release of American Martens in northern England. [Benvie (2004) p. 48.] Scotland hosts the only populations of European Wild Cat in the British Isles with an assumed total of between 400 and 2,000 animals, [cite web | url = http://www.scottishwildcats.co.uk/ | title = Scotland's Cat; 400 and counting... | publisher = Scottish Wildcat Association | accessdaymonth = 1 January | accessyear = 2007] and of the Red Fox sub-species "Vulpes vulpes vulpes," a larger race than the more common "V. v. crucigera" and which has two distinct forms. [Matthews (1968) pp. 231–32.] The Wild Cat is at risk due to the inadequacy of protective legislation and is now considered at serious risk of extinction. [Benvie (2004) p. 18.] [ Hull (2007) pp. 184–89.]

Other than occasional vagrants, among the seals only the Phocidae, or earless seals, are represented. Two species, the Grey Seal and Harbour or Common Seal are present around the coast of Scotland in internationally important numbers. In 2002 the Scottish Grey Seal population was estimated at 120,600 adult animals, which is around 36% of the world population and more than 90% of the UK's. The Scottish population of the Common Seal is 29,700, about 90% of the UK and 36% of the European total. [cite web | url = http://www.snh.org.uk/trends/trends_notes/pdf/marine%20species/seals.pdf | title = Seals | publisher = Scottish Natural Heritage | accessdaymonth = 1 January | accessyear = 2007 | format = pdf]

Rodents, insectivores and lagomorphs

Seventy-five per cent of the UK's Red Squirrels are found in Scotland. This species faces threats that include competition from the introduced Grey Squirrel, and the 'Scottish Strategy for Red Squirrel Conservation' provides a framework for supporting its long-term conservation. [cite web | url = http://www.snh.org.uk/scottish/species/mammals/squirrels.asp | title = Red Squirrels | publisher = Scottish Natural Heritage | accessdaymonth = 1 January | accessyear = 2007] Research in 2007 credited the growing population of Pine Martens with assisting this programme by preying selectively on the Grey Squirrels. [ Watson, Jeremy (30 December 2007) "Tufty's saviour to the rescue". "Scotland on Sunday". Edinburgh. It is theorised that because Grey Squirrels spend more time on the ground than the endangered Reds, they are more apt to come in contact with this predator.] Scotland has no population of the Edible or Hazel Dormouse, or of the Yellow-necked Mouse, and the Harvest Mouse's range is limited to the southern part of the country. The St Kilda Mouse and Orkney Vole (see above) are endemic, but otherwise population distributions are similar to the rest of mainland Britain. [Corbet and Ovenden (1984) pp. 152, 167–68.] Colonies of Black Rats remain only on the island of Inchcolm in the Firth of Forth and on the Shiant Isles.cite web | url = http://www.jncc.gov.uk/PDF/bto2_report223.pdf | title = Developing a mammal monitoring programme for the UK | publisher = Joint Nature Conservation Committee | accessdaymonth = 2 January | accessyear = 2007 | format = pdf]

Mainland insectivore populations are generally similar to the rest of Britain. Recent steps by Scottish Natural Heritage, the Scottish Executive and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds to remove European Hedgehogs from the Outer Hebrides, [cite web | url = http://www.snh.org.uk/pdfs/scottish/wisles/nlaug04.pdf | title = Uist Wader Project Newsletter | month = August | year = 2004| accessdaymonth = 1 January | accessyear = 2007 | publisher = Scottish Natural Heritage | format = pdf] where their introduction has caused declines in internationally important breeding populations of wading seabird such as Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Redshank, has caused considerable controversy, and hedgehog culls were halted in 2007. [cite web | url = http://www.thehedgehog.co.uk/campaign.htm | title = Campaign to stop the slaughter of over 5000 Hedgehogs on the Island of Uist | publisher = Epping Forest Hedgehog Rescue|accessdaymonth = 1 January | accessyear = 2007] [cite news | last = Ross | first = John | date = 21 February 2007 | title = Hedgehogs saved from the syringe as controversial Uist cull called off | location = Edinburgh | publisher = The Scotsman] The trapped animals are now relocated to the mainland. The programme has reduced this population; only two individuals were caught in 2007. [Ross, John (3 November 2007) "3,2,1... and then there were none". Edinburgh. "The Scotsman".]

Of the lagomorphs only hares and rabbits are represented in Scotland. The Mountain Hare is the only native member of the hare family and is the dominant species throughout most of upland Scotland. The European Hare and European Rabbit are both present, the latter having been brought to Britain by the Romans [cite web | url = http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/animals/pets/rabbits.shtml | title = Rabbits | publisher = BBC Nature | accessdaymonth = 1 January | accessyear = 2007] but not becoming widespread in Scotland until the 19th century.


Landseer's painting of a Red Deer stag, "Monarch of the Glen", is one of the most notable images of Victorian Scotland. [cite book | last = Ormond| first = Richard|url = | title = [http://www.reddotbooks.co.uk/monarch-glen-landseer-highlands-p-2161.html Monarch of the Glen: Landseer in the Highlands] | publisher = National Galleries of Scotland| year = 2005| isbn = 1903278708 RedDot Books. Retrieved 24 August 2008.] The species, a member of the biological order artiodactyla or "even-toed ungulates", is still 40,000 strong, although its existence in the pure form is threatened by hybridisation with introduced Sika Deer. Very much a hill-dwelling species in Scotland (and so typically smaller in stature than its European forest-loving cousins), it is generally replaced by Roe Deer in lower-lying land. [Benvie (2004) pp. 14, 44.] Although found elsewhere in the UK, no wild populations of Chinese Water Deer and no or very few Chinese Muntjac exist in Scotland. It has isolated populations of feral goats "Capra hircus" and feral sheep ("Ovis aries"), such as the herd of 1,000 Soay Sheep on St Kilda. [Quine (2000) pp. 30, 199.] Since 1952 a herd of semi-domesticated Reindeer have lived in the Cairngorm National Park, [Benvie (2004) p. 36.] [Hull (2007 p. 268.] the species having become extinct in Scotland after it was recorded as having been hunted in Orkney in the 12th century.cite news | last = Watson | first = Jeremy | date = 12 October 2006 | title = Sea eagle spreads its wings... | location = Edinburgh | publisher = "Scotland on Sunday"]

Other mammals

Only nine of the sixteen or seventeen bat species found elsewhere in Britain are present in Scotland. Widespread species are Common and Soprano Pipistrelles, the Brown Long-eared Bat, Daubenton's Bat and Natterer's Bat. Those with a more restricted distribution are the Whiskered Bat, Noctule, Leisler's Bat and Nathusius Pipistrelle. Absences include the Greater and Lesser Horseshoe Bat, the Greater Mouse-eared Bat and Bechstein's Bat. [cite paper | last = Racey | first = P.A. | coauthors = Raynor, R. & Pritchard, S. | year = 2006 | title = A review of European Bat Lyssavirus (EBLV) and the status of bats in Scotland | location = Perth | publisher = Scottish Natural Heritage Commissioned Report No. 63] No bats reside on the Shetland islands; the only records there are of migrants or vagrants. [ [http://www.nature-shetland.co.uk/brc/bats.htm "Shetland Bat Records"] Shetland Biological Records Centre. Retrieved on 10 August 2008.]

Twenty-one species of cetacean have been recorded in Scottish waters within the last 100 years including Cuvier's Beaked Whale, Killer Whales, Sperm Whales, Minke Whales and Common, White-beaked and Risso’s Dolphins. [cite web | url = http://www.snh.org.uk/pdfs/strategy/trends/SNH_Trends_sea.pdf | title = Trends - The Sea | publisher = Scottish Natural Heritage | accessdaymonth = 1 January | accessyear = 2007 | format = pdf] The Moray Firth colony of about 100 Bottlenose Dolphins [cite paper | last = Thompson | first = P.M. | coauthors = Corkrey, R.; Lusseau, D.; Lusseau, S.M.; Quick, N.;Durban, J.W.; Parsons, K.M. & Hammond, P.S. | year = 2006 | title = An assessment of the current condition of the Moray Firth bottlenose dolphin population | location = Perth | publisher = Scottish Natural Heritage Commissioned Report No. 175] is the most northerly in the world. As recent dramatic television coverage indicated, [cite web | url = http://www.highnorth.no/library/myths/ad-a-na.htm | title = Adopt a "Natural Born Killer" | publisher = High North Alliance | accessdaymonth = 1 January | accessyear = 2007 Originally published in "The International Harpoon" (1995) No. 1.] this species preys on Harbour Porpoises; a third of the porpoise carcasses examined by pathologists from 1992 to 2002 indicated that death resulted from dolphin attacks. [Benvie (2004) p. 112.] However, conservationists expressed dismay that the UK government decided to allow oil and gas prospecting in the Moray Firth, putting these populations of cetaceans at risk. [ Edwards, Rob (18 November 2007) "Famous Moray dolphins at risk as Whitehall fails to block oil and gas works". Glasgow. "The Sunday Herald". A coalition of conservation groups including WWF, The Wildlife Trust, the Marine Conservation Society and the RSPB have written to the minister concerned "urging him to abandon the plans".] The introduced marsupial, the Red-necked Wallaby, is confined to a colony on an island in Loch Lomond.

Extinctions and reintroductions

During the Pleistocene interglacials, arctic animals that are no longer extant occupied Scotland, including the Woolly Rhinoceros, Mammoth, Polar Bear, lemming, Arctic Fox and the giant deer "Megaloceros giganteus". [Murray (1973) pp. 55, 71.] Other mammals that used to inhabit Scotland but became extinct in the wild during historic times include the Eurasian Lynx, which lived in Britain until 1,500 years ago, the European Brown Bear, sub-species "Ursus arctos caledoniensis", which was taken to entertain the Roman circuses [Murray (1973) p. 114.] but died out in the 9th or 10th century, and the Elk, which lasted until about 1300. [ Hull (2007) p. 240.] The Wild Boar and Wild Ox or Urus died out in the subsequent two centuries, although the former's domesticated cousin, the grice, lasted until 1930 in Shetland. [cite web | url = http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/north_east/6155172.stm | title = Extinct Island Pig Spotted Again | publisher = BBC News | date = 17 November 2006 | accessdaymonth = 1 January | accessyear = 2007] The last known Wolf was shot on Mackintosh land in Invernessshire in 1743, [Fraser Darling and Boyd (1969) p. 64] [Although McCormick and Buckland (2003) state that a claim is made for the last wolf having been shot in Durness in 1749.] and the Walrus is now only an occasional vagrant. [Corbet and Ovenden (1984) pp. 275–79.] St Kilda also possessed an endemic sub-species of the House Mouse, "Mus musculus muralis", which was longer, hairier, coloured differently and had a skull shape skull at variance to the norm. It became extinct in 1938, just eight years after the evacuation of the native St Kildans. [Maclean (1972) pp. 21–22.]

Scottish Natural Heritage plan to bring the European Beaver back to Scotland using Norwegian stock. The species was found in the Highlands until the 15th century, and although the Scottish Executive initially rejected the idea, plans are now in place for a 2009 trial in Knapdale. [Fraser Darling and Boyd (1969) p. 63.] ["Down to beaver business". (August 2008) "Scottish Wildlife" 65. pp. 26–27.] [ cite web|title=Bringing back the Beaver|publisher=Royal Zoological Society of Scotland |url=http://www.edinburghzoo.org.uk/news-and-events/news/Beavers/ |accessdaymonth = 8 July | accessyear = 2008] Various other schemes have been considered. For example, the owner of the Alladale estate north of Inverness has expressed a desire to reintroduce wolves as part of a safari park.


The history of mammals suggests three broad overlapping phases: natural colonisation after the ice age, human-caused extinctions, and introduction by humans of non-native species.MacCormick, Finbar and Buckland, Paul C. "The Vertebrate Fauna" in Edwards, Kevin J. & Ralston, Ian B.M. (Eds) (2003) "Scotland After the Ice Age: Environment, Archaeology and History, 8000 BC - AD 1000". Edinburgh. Edinburgh University Press. pp. 83–103.] The greater mobility of birds makes such generalisations hard to substantiate in their case. Modern humans have done great damage to bird species, especially the raptors, but natural variations in populations are complex. For example, Northern Fulmars were present at Skara Brae during the Neolithic period, but in medieval times their breeding range was restricted to St Kilda. Since then they have spread throughout the British Isles. [Gooders (1994) p. 35.] [Peterson "et al" (1993) Map 9.]

Most of about 250 species of bird regularly recorded in Britain venture into Scotland, and perhaps up to 300 more occur with varying degrees of rarity. A total of 247 species have been assessed and each placed onto one of three lists, red, amber or green, indicating the level of concern for their future. Forty species are red-listed, 121 are amber-listed and 86 are green-listed. [cite web | url = http://www.bto.org/psob/index.htm | title = Populations Status of Birds in the UK | publisher = British Trust for Ornithology | accessdaymonth = 6 January | accessyear = 2007] [cite web | url = http://www.rspb.org.uk/Images/Bocc2_tcm9-132673.pdf | title = Birds of conservation concern: 2002–2007 | publisher = RSPB | accessdaymonth = 7 January | accessyear = 2007 | format = pdf]

The Scottish Crossbill, "Loxia scotica", which inhabits the coniferous forests of the Highlands, is Britain's only endemic bird and, with only 300 breeding pairs, one of Europe's most threatened species. [Benvie (2004) p. 55.] Its shape, red/green hue and habit of hanging upside down has led to comparisons with parrots. [ Miles and Jackman (1991) p. 21.] St Kilda has a unique subspecies of wren, "Troglodytes troglodytes hirtensis", which has adapted to perching on the rocks and cliffs of this treeless Atlantic island, and consequently has developed larger and stronger feet than the mainland variant. It is also slightly larger, has a longer beak, a drabber though more varied colouring, and a "peculiarly sweet and soft" song. The sub-species was recognised in 1884 and was protected by a special act of parliament in 1904 to prevent its destruction "at the hands of ornithologists, egg-collectors, taxidermists and tourists". [Maclean (1972) p. 21.]


All but a few pairs of Britain's approximately 600 Golden Eagles are found in Scotland as are most of the breeding Peregrine Falcons. [Brown (1989) pp. 175, 176, 187. ] The Hobby, Marsh Harrier and Montagu's Harrier although found in England and Wales are generally absent. [Gooders (1994) pp. 85, 86, 94.]

In 1916 an English vicar stole the last native White-tailed Sea Eagle eggs on Skye,cite book | editor = McFarlan, D. | year = 1991 | title = The Guinness Book of Records | location = Enfield | publisher = Guinness Publishing p. 35.] and the last adult was shot on Shetland two years later. However, the species was reintroduced to the island of Rùm in 1975. The bird spread successfully to various neighbouring islands, and 30 pairs were established by 2006. Despite fears expressed by local farmers, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) plan to release up to 100 young eagles on the east coast in the Forth and Tay estuaries. [Fraser Darling and Boyd (1969) p. 65 states that they bred until the 1960s.] The Red Kite was exterminated in Scotland in 1879, and a reintroduction programme was launched by the RSPB in the 1980s. Although the species has made significant advances, it is estimated that 38% of the 395 birds fledged between 1999 and 2003 were poisoned and a further 9% shot or otherwise killed by humans. The RSPB stated: "it may take a custodial sentence before people engaged with this activity begin to take the matter seriously". [cite news | last = Ross | first = John | date = 29 December 2006 | title = Mass slaughter of the red kites | publisher = "The Scotsman" | location = Edinburgh]

After an absence of nearly 40 years the Osprey successfully re-colonised Scotland in the early 1950s. In 1899 they had bred at the ruined Loch an Eilean castle near Aviemore and at Loch Arkaig until 1908. In 1952 they claimed a new site at Loch Garten. [Fraser Darling and Boyd (1969) p. 274. ] There are now 150 breeding pairs. [Benvie (2004) p. 102.]

Other raptor species found in the UK such as the Kestrel, Hen Harrier, Goshawk, Sparrowhawk, Tawny Owl, and Barn Owl are widely distributed in Scotland, although the Little Owl is confined to the south. [Brown (1989) pp. 104, 115.] [Gooders (1994) pp. 84, 88, 89, 92, 179–82.] Buzzards have displayed a remarkable resilience, having recovered from human persecution and the myxamatosis epidemic of the 1950s, which reduced their food supply. Numbers more than trebled between 1978 and 1998. [Benvie (2004) p. 70.] At the other end of the population scale, a single pair of Snowy Owls bred on Fetlar from 1967 to 1975.


Scotland’s seas host almost half of the European Union's breeding seabirds [cite web|url=http://www.rspb.org.uk/ourwork/library/briefings.asp|title=RSPB Scotland Parliamentary Briefing: Debate on Scotland’s Marine Environment – 20th March 08|format=pdf|publisher = RSPB |accessdaymonth = 24 August | accessyear = 2008] including about half of the world’s Northern Gannets and a third of the world’s Manx Shearwaters. Four seabird species have more than 95% of their combined British and Irish population in Scotland, while a further fourteen species have more than half of their breeding population in Scottish colonies. St Kilda, which is a World Heritage Site, is a seabird haven of great significance. It has 60,000 Northern Gannets, amounting to 24% of the world population, 49,000 breeding pairs of Leach's Petrel, up to 90% of the European population, 136,000 pairs of Puffin and 67,000 Northern Fulmar pairs, about 30% and 13% of the respective UK totals. [Benvie (2004) pp. 116, 121, 132–34.] The island of Mingulay also has a large seabird population and is an important breeding ground for razorbills, with 9,514 pairs, 6.3% of the European population.cite web | url = http://www.nts-seabirds.org.uk/properties/mingulay/mingulay_breeding.aspx/ | title = Mingulay birds | publisher = National Trust for Scotland | accessdaymonth = 16 February | accessyear = 2007]

Sixty per cent of all breeding Bonxies nest in Scotland, mostly in Orkney and Shetland, even though they did not arrive at all until the 18th century. Scotland is the breeding station for about 90% of the UK’s Arctic Terns, the majority of which make use of colonies in Orkney and Shetland. A similar percentage of the UK's Tysties breed on Scottish islands including Unst, Mingulay and Iona. [Benvie (2004) pp. 128–38.] Scotland also hosts 1,000 pairs of Arctic Skua and 21,000 breeding pairs of Shag, 40% of the global population of the species. [cite news | last = Johnston | first = I. | date = 6 January 2007| title = Escalating threat to the future of Scotland's seas | location = Edinburgh | publisher = "The Scotsman" The report quotes British Trust for Ornithology figures.]

In excess of 130,000 birds inhabit Fowlsheugh nature reserve in Aberdeenshire at the peak of the breeding season, making it one of the largest seabird colonies in Britain. As of 2005 about 18,000 breeding pairs of Kittiwakes return to each year, and there are also significant numbers of Atlantic Puffin, Razorbill, Fulmar, Herring Gull and Great Black-backed Gull. [cite web | url = http://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves/guide/f/fowlsheugh/about.asp | title = Fowlsheugh Reserve | publisher = RSPB | accessdaymonth = 13 January | accessyear = 2007] The Bass Rock in the Firth of Forth hosts upwards of 40,000 pairs of Northern Gannets and is the largest single rock gannetry in the world. The bird's scientific name "Morus bassanus", derives from the rock. [cite web | url = http://blx1.bto.org/birdfacts/results/bob710.htm | title = Gannet "Morus bassanus" [Linnaeus, 1758] | publisher = British Trust for Ornithology | accessdaymonth = 24 August| accessyear = 2008] [cite web | url = http://www.seabird.org/wildlife.asp | title = The Wildlife | publisher = Scottish Seabird Centre | accessdaymonth = 13 January | accessyear = 2007]

Game birds, waders and water fowl

Red-listed Western Capercaillie and Ptarmigan breed in Scotland and are absent elsewhere in the British Isles. The former became extinct in Scotland in 1785 but was successfully reintroduced from Swedish stock in 1837. [ [http://www.treesforlife.org.uk/tfl.capercaillie.html "Species Profile: Capercaillie"] Trees for Life. Retrieved 8 September 2008.] [ [http://www.ukbap.org.uk/ukplans.aspx?ID=597 "Species Action Plan: Capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus)"] UK Biodiversity Action Plan. Retrieved 8 September 2008.] There are significant populations of other Galliformes including Blackcock and the famous Red Grouse. [Gooders (1994) pp. 98–101.] Common Quail, Grey Partridge and Pheasant are well-distributed, although the Red-legged Partridge is less so. [Gooders (1994) pp. 97, 102, 103, 106.] A small colony of the introduced Golden Pheasant exists in the southwest. [Gooders (1994) pp. 104–05.] Among the waders, Avocet, Stone-curlew, Little Ringed Plover and Kentish Plover are absent, but most of the 100 or so pairs of Dotterel in the UK spend their summers in Scotland as do all of the breeding Whimbrel, Greenshank and Red-necked Phalarope, (although the latter two species also breed in Ireland). [Gooders (1994) pp. 113–44.] [Peterson "et al" (1993) Maps 152 and 157.] In summer the shallow lochs of the machair lands in the Uists and Benbecula provide for a remarkable variety of waders and ducks including Shoveler, Eider, Slavonian Grebe and the 'red-listed' Common Scoter. [Perrot, D. et al (1995) "The Outer Hebrides Handbook and Guide". Machynlleth. Kittiwake. pp. 86–90.] Goldeneye have colonised an area centred around the Cairngorms National Park since the 1970s, and about 100 pairs breed there. The majority of the roughly 8,000 Whooper Swans in the British Isles winter in Scotland and nowrap|Ireland. [ Benvie (2004) pp. 97, 106.] [Gooders (1994) p. 51.]

Virtually all of the 40,000 Barnacle Geese, which breed in Greenland, arrive on Islay for the winter, most staying only for a few days before dispersing to the surrounding area. A similar number use the Montrose Basin as a temporary roost in October, and 20% of the world population of 225,000 birds over-winter on Scottish lochs. [ Benvie (2004) p. 74.] The amber-listed Black and Red-throated Diver's freshwater breeding strongholds in the British Isles are in the north and west of Scotland. [cite web | url = http://www.rspb.org.uk/birds/guide/b/blackthroateddiver/index.asp | title = Black-throated Diver | publisher = RSPB | accessdaymonth = 7 January | accessyear = 2007]

Other non-passerines

Considerable efforts have been taken to conserve the shy Corncrake, and summer numbers of this red-listed species have recovered to 670 pairs. [Benvie (2004) p. 72.] The Wryneck is also red-listed and numbers fewer than 2 to 10 breeding pairs in Scotland. [cite web | url = http://www.rspb.org.uk/birds/guide/w/wryneck/index.asp | title = Wryneck | publisher = RSPB | accessdaymonth = 7 January | accessyear = 2007] Of the Columbidae the Turtle Dove is largely absent, but in the British Isles the Rock Dove is confined to the north and west coasts of Scotland and Ireland. [Gooders (1994) pp. 171, 175.]


Ravens are typically forest-dwelling birds in much of Europe, but in Scotland they are generally associated with mountains and sea coasts. In 2002 the Hooded Crow was recognised as a separate species from the Carrion Crow. Scotland and Northern Ireland host all of the 190,000 UK territories of the former. [cite web | url = http://www.rspb.org.uk/birds/guide/h/hoodedcrow/index.asp | title = Hooded Crow | publisher = RSPB | accessdaymonth = 7 January | accessyear = 2007] A recent survey suggest that Raven numbers are increasing but that Hooded Crows had declined by 59% while Carrion Crow numbers were essentially static. [cite web | url = http://www.snh.org.uk/trends/trends_notes/pdf/terrestrial%20species/breeding%20land%20birds.pdf | title = National Heritage Trends | publisher = Scottish Natural Heritage | accessdaymonth = 7 January | accessyear = 2007 | format = pdf] Concentrated on the islands of Islay and Colonsay, 340 pairs of Chough nest in Scotland. [ Benvie (2004) p. 118.]

In addition to Crossbills (see above), Crested Tits exist as a fragmented population of 2,400 breeding pairs in remnant patches of Caledonian Forest and in some larger plantations such as the Culbin Forest in Moray. Ring Ouzels have declined to around 7,000 pairs, possibly due to disturbance from the growing number of human visitors to their upland habitat. There are fewer than 100 breeding pairs of Snow Bunting, although in winter they are joined by migrants from continental Europe. A nest site near Dumfries is thought to have been in use by Dippers since 1881. Scotland has 95% of the British breeding population of red-listed Twite, about 64,000 pairs. [Benvie (2004) p. 79. ] However, a recent RSPB survey found a sudden and dramatic fall in winter numbers from 6,000 in 1998 to only 300 in 2006 in the counties of Caithness and Sutherland. [cite news | last = Ross | first = John | date =26 June 2007| title = Habitat changes leave the twite living on a wing and prayer | location = Edinburgh | publisher = "The Scotsman"]


Scotland's position on the western seaboard of Europe means that a variety of birds not normally found in the country visit from time to time. These include accidental visits by vagrant birds which have wandered far from their normal habitations.

Fair Isle is an internationally renowned site for the observation of migrant birds. Rarities have included passerines such as the Thick-billed Warbler, White-throated Sparrow, Yellow-rumped Warbler and Collared Flycatcher. [cite web | url = http://www.fairislebirdobs.co.uk/Migration_Studies/Common_&_Rare_Migrants.htm | title = Common and Rare Migrants | publisher = Fair Isle Bird Observatory | accessdaymonth = 4 January | accessyear = 2007] More than 345 species of bird have been recorded on this island, [cite web | url = http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/fairisle/birdobservatory/index.html | title = Fair Isle Bird Observatory| publisher = Undiscovered Scotland | accessdaymonth = 4 January | accessyear = 2007] which measures only convert|7.68|km2|mi2. [Haswell-Smith (2004) p. 410.]

Elsewhere, other rarities reported in 2006 include a White-billed Diver at Gairloch, a Black-browed Albatross in the Western Isles, a Laughing Gull in Shetland and a Buff-breasted Sandpiper at Lossiemouth. ["British Birds" (August 2006) 199. London: BB 2000.] Accidentals recorded in earlier years include an American Bittern in 1888 and a Purple Heron in the same year, a Baikal Teal in 1958, and a Black stork in 1977. [ Cook (1992) pp. 37, 39, 57.] Birds are also presumed to have escaped from captivity, such as a Lanner Falcon in 1976, Chilean Flamingos in 1976 and 1979, a Black-necked Swan in 1988, and a Red-tailed Hawk in 1989. [ Cook (1992) pp. 85, 41, 45, 80.] These records are but a small selection from two counties in the north-east and give only a flavour of the complexity and diversity of avian life in Scotland.


The Common Crane and Great Bittern were exterminated by hunters and the draining of marshes in the 18th century. [Fraser Darling and Boyd (1969) p. 64.] The last Great Auk seen in Britain was killed on Stac an Armin, a rocky pinnacle in the St Kilda archipelago in July 1840. [Haswell-Smith (2004) p. 325.]

Fish and sea life

Of the 42 species of fish found in Scottish fresh waters, only half have arrived by natural colonisation. Native species include Allis Shad, Brown Trout, European Eel and River Lamprey. Scottish rivers support one of the largest Atlantic Salmon resources in Europe, with nearly 400 rivers supporting genetically distinct populations.cite web | url = http://www.scotland.gov.uk/library2/doc14/saff-02.asp | title = Protecting and Promoting Scotland's Freshwater Fish and Fisheries | publisher = Scottish Executive | accessdaymonth = 13 January | accessyear = 2007] Five fish species are considered ‘late arrivals’ to Scotland, having colonised by natural means prior to 1790. They are the Northern Pike, Roach, Stone Loach, Perch, and Minnow. Rarer native species include the Powan, found in only two locations and under threat from introduced Ruffe and the Arctic Charr. The latter may have been the first fish species to re-enter fresh waters when the last ice age ended, and about 200 populations exist. [cite web | url = http://www.snh.org.uk/scottish/species/fish.asp | title = Fish species | publisher = Scottish Natural Heritage | accessdaymonth = 8 January | accessyear = 2007] [cite web | url = http://www.marlab.ac.uk/FRS.Web/Delivery/display_standalone.aspx?contentid=625 | title = Arctic Charr | publisher = Fisheries Research Services | accessdaymonth = 13 January | accessyear = 2007] The Freshwater Pearl Mussel was once abundant enough to support commercial activities, [See for example cite book | last = Neat | first = T. | year = 2002 | title = The Summer Walkers: Travelling People and Pearl-fishers in the Highlands of Scotland | location = Edinburgh | publisher = Birlinn ISBN 1841581992] and Scotland is the remaining European stronghold. It protects populations in more than 50 rivers, mainly in the Highlands. [cite web | url = http://www.jncc.gov.uk/ProtectedSites/SACselection/species.asp?FeatureIntCode=S1029 | title = Invertebrate species: molluscs | publisher = Joint Nature Conservation Committee | accessdaymonth = 13 January | accessyear = 2007]

Scotland’s seas, which constitute an area greater than that of the seas around the rest of the UK, are among the most biologically productive in the world. They are home to a third of the world’s whale and dolphin species, most of the UK’s maerl, (a collective term for several species of calcified red seaweed, and an important marine habitat), Horsemussel ("Modiolus modiolus") and seagrass beds, and distinctive species like the Tall Sea Pen, "Funiculina quadrangularis". It is estimated that the total number of Scottish marine species exceeds 40,000. This includes 250 species of fish, the most numerous inshore variety being Saithe, and deeper water creatures such as the Dogfish, Porbeagle and Blue Shark, European Eel, Sea Bass, Atlantic Halibut and various rays. There are four species of sea turtle, the Leatherback, Loggerhead, Kemp's Ridley and Green Turtle. [cite web | url =,+Scotland+SNH&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=uk&client=firefox-a| title = Turtles in Scotland | publisher = Marine Conservation Society | accessdaymonth = 24 August | accessyear = 2008] Scottish waters contain around 2,500 crustacean species and 700 molluscs.

The Darwin Mounds, an important area of cold water coral reefs discovered in 1988, are about convert|1000|m|ft deep in the Atlantic Ocean, about convert|185|km|mi north-west of Cape Wrath in the north-east corner of the Rockall trough. The area covers approximately convert|100|km2|mi2 and contains hundreds of mounds of about convert|100|m|ft in diameter and convert|5|m|ft in height, many having a teardrop shaped ‘tail’ orientated south-west of the mound. This feature may be unique globally. The tops of the mounds have living stands of "Lophelia" corals and support significant populations of the single-celled "Syringammina fragilissima". Fish have been observed in the vicinity but not at higher densities than the background environment. Damage from trawler fishing was visible over about a half of the eastern Darwin Mounds surveyed during summer 2000, and the UK government is taking steps to protect the area. [cite web | url = http://www.jncc.gov.uk/page-1449 | title = Biogenic reefs - cold water corals | publisher = Joint Nature Conservation Committee | accessdaymonth = 7 January | accessyear = 2007] In 2003 the European Commission provided emergency protection and banned damaging fishing activity in the locality. [cite web | url = http://www.scotland.gov.uk/News/Releases/2003/08/3968 | title = Protection for Darwin Mounds | publisher = Scottish Executive | accessdaymonth = 8 January | accessyear = 2007]

Further action on a much wider scale may be required. According to a recent report "Scotland's marine life could be almost wiped out within 50 years unless tough action is taken to manage the way humans use the seas". Fears were expressed by a consortium of environmental organisations that commercial fish stocks, including Atlantic Cod are suffering from over-fishing, that fish farming, especially for salmon is damaging the aquatic environment, a reduction in coastal marsh habitats is affecting marine bird life, litter in densely populated estuaries such as the Firth of Clyde is affecting all forms of marine life and that the growth in off-shore tourism was deleterious to populations of, for example, Basking Shark. A call was made for a 'Scottish Marine Bill' to co-ordinate and manage human activity at sea and to provide more protected areas such as marine national parks. [cite news | last = Johnston | first = I. | date = 6 January 2007 | title = Escalating threat to the future of Scotland's seas | location = Edinburgh | publisher = The Scotsman]

"Calyptraea chinensis" (L.) is a gastropod that has invaded the shores of Scotland and by 1998 had reached nearly as far north as Oban. One living specimen was found at Clachan Sound, and earlier records showed findings of gastropod shells.Smith, S. 1998. "Calyptraea chinensis" (L., 1758) (Mollusca: Gastropoda). "Newsletter PMNHS" No. 1. p.10.]

Riverine extinctions

Pollution and predation led to the extinction of both species of Vendace from its very restricted range in south-western Scottish freshwaters in 1980. In the 1990s a successful attempt to reintroduce "Coregonus vandesius" to the Lochmaben area began. "Coregonus albula" remains absent. [ [http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2004/05/19366/37243 "Scotland's Biodiversity: It's in Your Hands - A strategy for the conservation and enhancement of biodiversity in Scotland"] . The Scottish Government. Retrieved on 10 August 2007.] [ [http://www.snh.org.uk/pdfs/education/biodiversity/5%20natural%20inspiration.pdf "A Royal Fish"] (pdf) SNH. Retrieved on 10 August 2007.] [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/south_of_scotland/7266730.stm "Ice Age fish thrives in new home"] BBC. Retrieved 16 May 2008.] [Winfield, Ian J., Fletcher, Janice M., and James, Ben (2004) "Conservation ecology of the vendace ("Coregonus albula") in Bassenthwaite Lake and Derwent Water U.K. "Ann. Zool. Fennici." 41 pp. 155–164.]

Amphibians and land reptiles

Only six amphibians and four land reptiles are to Scotland. [cite web | url = http://www.snh.org.uk/pubs/detail.asp?id=261 | title = Publications: Amphibians & Reptiles | publisher = Scottish Natural Heritage | accessdaymonth = 10 August | accessyear = 2008] The amphibians include three species of newt: the Great Crested, of which fewer than 1,000 individuals survive; [cite news | last = Johnston | first = Ian | date = 19 March 2007 | title = Scotland 'sliding towards the collapse of our ecosystem' | location = Edinburgh | publisher = "The Scotsman" The article quotes "Call 999: an Emergency for Scotland’s Biodiversity. Summary and Assessment for Scotland from the UK Biodiversity Action Plan 2005 Reporting Round" published by Scottish Environment Link also in March 2007.] the Smooth, and the Palmate. [cite web | url = http://thomsonecology.com/scot-amphibians.htm | title = Amphibians | publisher = Thomson ecology | accessdaymonth = 13 January | accessyear = 2007] The other amphibians are the Common Toad, the Natterjack Toad, found in only four locations in the south-west, and the Common Frog. A single alien amphibian is known in Scotland, the Alpine Newt, a recent escapee confined to the Edinburgh area.cite paper | last = Welch | first = D. | coauthors = Carss, D.N.; Gornall, J.; Manchester, S.J.; Marquiss, M.; Preston, C. D.; Telfer, M.G.; Arnold, H.R. & Holbrook, J. | year = 2001 | title = An Audit of Alien Species in Scotland. Review no 139 | location = Perth | publisher = Scottish Natural Heritage]

The reptiles include the Adder and the Grass Snake, the Slow-worm, which is a legless lizard, and the Common Lizard. Smooth Snakes, found elsewhere in the UK are absent, and Grass Snakes are rarely reported. [cite web | url = http://thomsonecology.com/scot-reptiles.htm | title = Reptiles | publisher = Thomson ecology | accessdaymonth = 13 January | accessyear = 2007]

Terrestrial invertebrates

Seventy-seven species of land snail [Carter, Stephen P. "Land Snails" in Edwards and Ralston, Ian (2003) p. 104.] and an estimated 14,000 species of insect live in Scotland, none of them "truly" endemic.Buckland, Paul C. and Sadler, Jon P. "Insects" in Edwards and Ralston (2003) pp. 105-08.] These include "Pardosa lugubris", a species of wolf spider first found in the UK in 2000 at Abernethy Forest nature reserve, and the Scottish Wood Ant. These ants, which are the most numerous residents of the Caledonian pine forest, build mounds from the pine cones and needles they find on the forest floor and may inhabit the mounds for decades. A single colony may collect 100,000 insects a day to feed its half million citizens and produce up to convert|250|kg|lb of honeydew per season. [Miles & Jackman (1991) p. 47.] In addition to the Scottish Wood Ant, several Scottish species of invertebrate exist that are otherwise rare in the UK and important enough to have a specific "Action Plan" to provide protection. These are five species of ant and bee, six moths and butterfly, five flies and a single beetle (the Reed Beetle) and snail (the Round-mouthed Whorl Snail, "Vertigo genesii"). [cite web | url = http://www.snh.org.uk/scottish/species/invertebrates.asp | title = Invertebrates | publisher = Scottish Natural Heritage | accessdaymonth = 15 January | accessyear = 2007] Northern Colletes is a rare species of bee, the most significant British habitat for which is in the Outer Hebrides, where there are more than ten colonies.cite news |first=David |last=Ross |title=Rare species of burrowing bee has flourished in Outer Hebrides |url=http://www.theherald.co.uk/news/news/display.var.1684785.0.0.php |work = The Herald |date=13 September 2007 |accessdate = 2007-09-13] Scotland is also the UK stronghold of the Blaeberry Bumblebee, and the Bumblebee Conservation Trust recently created the world's first sanctuary for this genus of insects at Vane Farm near Loch Leven. ["The bee's knees". (Spring 2007) "Broadleaf" No. 68. Grantham. Woodland Trust.] [ [http://www.wildlifeextra.com/go/news/bumblebee-sanctuary927.html "World's first bumblebee sanctuary created in Scotland."] Wildlife Extra. Retrieved on 29 July 2008.]

Although many species of butterfly are in decline in the UK, recent research suggests that some, such as the Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Marsh Fritillary and Chequered Skipper, which are becoming rare in the rest of the UK, are moving north into Scotland in response to climate change. [Smith, Claire (21 July 2007) "Butterflies are flitting here from the South." Edinburgh. "The Scotsman".] [ [http://www.butterfly-conservation.org/downloads/75/the_state_of_britains_butterflies.html "The state of Britain's butterflies 2007"] (pdf) Butterfly Conservation. Retrieved on 21 July 2007.] In June 2008 an adult "Ethmia pyrausta" moth was discovered in Easter Ross. This find was only the fifth sighting since its discovery in the UK at Loch Shin in 1853, and the species has gained "almost mythical status" according to Butterfly Conservation Scotland. [Davies, Eilidh (3 June 2008) "Rare moth rescued from becoming a spider's next meal". Aberdeen. "Press and Journal".]

The most well-known invertebrate may be a species of midge ("Culicoides impunctatus"), a tiny flying gnat which is the scourge of summer visitors and residents alike. Its predations result in the loss of up to 20% of summer working days in the forestry industry. [cite web | url = http://www.treesforlife.org.uk/tfl.midge.html | title = Highland biting midge | publisher = Trees for Life | accessdaymonth = 15 January | accessyear = 2007] Others of significance include the Pine Weevil, Black Pine Beetle, Clytra Beetle, and the Timberman, a long-horned beetle. [According to Miles & Jackman (1991) p. 48 the 'timberman' is found only in Scotland.] The archaeological site at Skara Brae provided the earliest known record of the human flea, "Pulex irritans" in Europe.


A variety of exotic cats are rumoured to exist, [cite web | url = http://scotcats.online.fr/swc/index.html | publisher = The Scottish Big Cat Trust | title = The Scottish Wildcat | accessdaymonth = 10 August | accessyear = 2007] including the 'Beast of Buchan'. [cite news | url = http://heritage.scotsman.com/bigcats/The-Beast-of-Buchan.2837804.jp | publisher = The Scotsman|date= 24 December 2006|title = The Beast of Buchan | accessdate = 2007-01-01] The 'Kellas Cat' of Moray is a jet black, long-legged animal, and is probably the result of a modern Wild Cat/domestic Cat hybrid, or a melanistic Wild Cat. In earlier times it may have spawned the legend of the "Cat Sidhe" or "Fairy Cat". [cite book | last = Francis | first = Di | year = 1993 | title = My Highland Kellas Cats | publisher = Jonathan Cape ISBN 0224033961X] [cite web | url = http://www.pawsonline.info/kellas_cat.htm | title = Kellas Cat (Melanistic hybrid) | publisher = Paws On-Line|accessdaymonth = 10 August | accessyear = 2007] The fabulous Loch Ness Monster, possibly a form of "water horse", has a long history; the first recorded sighting allegedly took place in 565 AD. [cite web | url = http://www.ucc.ie/celt/published/T201040/index.html | author = Adomnán | title = The Life of Columba | publisher = University College Cork|accessdaymonth = 25 June | accessyear = 2007] More recently, the Stronsay Beast was an unidentified cryptid washed ashore in the Orkney islands in the 19th century. [Simpson, Yvonne A. [http://www.theangloscot.co.uk/ "The Strange Case of the Stronsay Beast"] theangloscot.co.uk. Retrieved on 10 August 2008.]

Nature conservation in Scotland


Conservation of the natural environment is well-developed in the United Kingdom. The resources of the organisations concerned may be insufficient to the challenge, but the contrast with earlier attitudes about the environment is striking. In Victorian times few animals became extinct in Scotland, but the scale of the slaughter on hunting estates was staggering. Richard Perry records that on a single estate in the Cairngorms between 1837 and 1840 the following "vermin" were exterminated by keepers purely in the interests of preserving the grouse population:

246 Martens, 198 Wild Cats, 106 Polecats, 67 Badgers, 58 Otters, 475 Ravens, 462 Kestrels, 371 Rough-legged Buzzards, 285 Common Buzzards, 275 Kites, 98 Peregrine Falcons, 92 Hen Harriers, 78 Merlins, 71 Short-eared Owls, 63 Goshawks, 35 Long-eared Owls, 27 Sea Eagles, 18 Ospreys, 15 Golden Eagles, 11 Hobbys, 6 Gyrfalcons, 5 Marsh Harriers, 3 Honey Buzzards,
and for reasons apparently unconnected to grouse shooting, a further
11 Foxes, 301 Stoats and Weasels, 78 House Cats, 1,431 Hooded or Carrion Crow, 3 Barn Owls, 8 Magpies and 7 "Orange-legged Falcons".
Writing in 1947, Perry stated that his "first reaction to this dreadful black-list was that of amazed incredulity. I still find the details incredible. However, they were supplied by the lessee himself." [Perry (1948) pp. 54–55.] In several instances these extermination totals are larger than the current resident numbers for the entire country.

It remains to be seen if the destruction wrought by the Victorians continues to be the nadir for the fauna of Scotland. In addition to other difficulties the marine environment faces, climate change is a challenge facing all of Scotland's habitats. Among the birds, Ptarmigan, Dotterel and Snow Bunting in particular may be affected as they depend on high-altitude habitats, and populations are likely to decline if warmer weather brings competitors into their restricted ranges. [Benvie (2004) pp. 19, 30, 34.] Mammals and other vertebrates may fare better, although localised invertebrate populations are at risk. Marine life is already being affected. Planktonic species that prefer cold water are declining and are not able support the crucial food chains on which many seabirds depend. [cite news | last = Johnston | first = I. | date = 19 November 2006| title = Sea change as plankton head north | location = Edinburgh | publisher = "The Scotsman"] Further evidence of problems for marine species has been provided by the St Andrews University Sea Mammal Research Unit. An analysis suggests that Common Seal populations in Orkney and Shetland fell by 40% from 2001 to 2006, prompting the Scottish Executive to announce the likelihood of a new protective conservation order. [cite news | last = Hardie | first = Alison | date = 20 January 2007| title = Dramatic decline in island common seal populations baffles experts | location = Edinburgh | publisher = "The Scotsman"]

The complexities involved in conserving Scottish wildlife are highlighted in an RSPB report, noting that Pine Martens have been found to be a significant predator of Capercaillie nests. Both species are protected, providing conservation agencies with a challenging conundrum to address. ["The capercaillie conundrum" (October 2007) "BBC Wildlife" 25 No. 9.]

Conservation organisations

Various public sector organisations have an important role in the stewardship of the country's fauna. Scottish Natural Heritage is the statutory body responsible for natural heritage management in Scotland. One of its duties is to establish National Nature Reserves (NNR)s. Until 2004 there were 73, but a review carried out in that year resulted in a significant number of sites losing their NNR status, and as of 2006 there are 55. [cite web|url=http://www.snh.org.uk/pdfs/publications/corporate/annreview06/SNH%20Review%202006.pdf|title=SNH Annual Review 2006|format=PDF|publisher = Scottish Natural Heritage|accessdaymonth = 16 February | accessyear = 2007] [A new policy for NNRs was developed in 1996, which required them to have four attributes: primacy of nature, national importance, best practice management and continuity of management. The sites not meeting these characteristics were removed from the list. See [http://www.nnr-scotland.com/downloads/publications/The_Story_of_Hermaness_National_Nature_Reserve.pdf "The Story of Hermaness National Nature Reserve: Appendix 1"] (pdf) SNH. Retrieved on 23 August 2008.] The Forestry Commission in Scotland serves as the forestry department of the Scottish Government and is one of the country's largest landowners. The Joint Nature Conservation Committee is the statutory adviser to Government on UK and international nature conservation.

The country has two national parks. Cairngorms National Park includes the largest area of arctic mountain landscape in the UK. Sites designated as of importance to natural heritage take up 39% of the land area, two thirds of which are of Europe-wide importance. [ [http://www.cairngorms.co.uk/park/index.php "The Park"] Cairngorms National Park Authority. Retrieved on 16 January 2006.] Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park includes Britain's largest body of fresh water, the mountains of Breadalbane and the sea lochs of Argyll.

Many charitable and voluntary organisations also have important roles to play. The National Trust for Scotland is the conservation charity that protects and promotes Scotland's natural and cultural heritage. With more than 270,000 members it is the largest conservation charity in Scotland. The Scottish Wildlife Trust is a leading voluntary conservation organisation, working to protect Scotland's natural environment. The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland is a learned society and registered charity that maintains Edinburgh Zoo and the Highland Wildlife Park (a safari park and zoo near Kingussie, which specialises in native fauna). The Society is also involved in various conservation programs around Scotland and the world. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds promotes conservation of birds and other wildlife through the protection and re-creation of habitats. The John Muir Trust is a charity whose main role is as a guardian of wild land and wildlife, through the ownership of land and the promotion of education and conservation. The trust owns and manages estates in locations including Knoydart and Assynt, and on the isle of Skye. It has links with the Sierra Club in the United States which also celebrates the legacy of Dunbar-born John Muir. [ [http://www.jmt.org/ "Welcome to the John Muir Trust"] John Muir Trust. Retrieved on 3 January 2007.] Trees for Life is a charity that aims to restore a "wild forest" in the Northwest Highlands and Grampian Mountains. [cite web | url = http://www.treesforlife.org.uk/tfl.visi.html | title = "Our Vision"| publisher = Trees for Life | accessdaymonth = 3 January |accessyear =2007]

ee also

*Flora of Scotland
*Geography of Scotland
*Climate of Scotland
*Geology of Scotland
*Nature of the Outer Hebrides
*List of British mammals
*List of fauna of the Scottish Highlands
*List of British birds
*List of British butterflies
*List of British reptiles
*List of British amphibians
*List of extinct animals of the British Isles
*Lists of insects recorded in Britain
*British avifauna
*National Nature Reserves in Scotland


*Benvie, Neil (2004) "Scotland's Wildlife". London. Aurum Press. ISBN 1854109782
*Brown, Leslie (1989) "British Birds of Prey". London. Bloomsbury. ISBN 1870630637
*Corbet, Gordon and Ovenden, Denys (1984) "The Mammals of Britain and Europe". Glasgow. Collins. ISBN 000219774X
* Cook, Martin (1992). "The Birds of Moray and Nairn". Edinburgh: Mercat Press. ISBN 1873644051
*Edwards, Kevin J. & Ralston, Ian B.M. (Eds) (2003) "Scotland After the Ice Age: Environment, Archaeology and History, 8000 BC - AD 1000". Edinburgh. Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 0748617361
*Fraser Darling, F. & Boyd, J.M. (1969) "Natural History in the Highlands and Islands." London. Bloomsbury. ISBN 187063098X
*Gooders, J. (1994) "Field Guide to the Birds of Britain and Ireland". London. Kingfisher. ISBN 0862721393
*Haswell-Smith, Hamish. (2004) "The Scottish Islands". Edinburgh. Canongate. ISBN 1841954543
*Hull, Robin (2007) "Scottish Mammals". Edinburgh. Birlinn. ISBN 184158536X
*MacLean, Charles (1972) "Island on the Edge of the World: the Story of St. Kilda". Edinburgh. Canongate. ISBN 0903937417
*Matthews, L. Harrison (1968) "British Mammals."London. Bloomsbury. ISBN 1870630688
*Miles, H. and Jackman, B. (1991) "The Great Wood of Caledon". Lanark. Colin Baxter Photography. ISBN 0948661267
*Murray, W.H. (1973) "The Islands of Western Scotland." London. Eyre Methuen. SBN 413303802
* Perry, Richard (1948). "In The High Grampians". London. Lindsay Drummond.
*Peterson, Roger Tory; Mountfort, Guy; and Hollom, P.A.D. (1993) "Birds of Britain and Europe". Glasgow. HarperCollins. ISBN 0002199000
* Quine, David (2000). "St Kilda". Grantown-on-Spey: Colin Baxter Island Guides. ISBN1841070084
* Smout, T.C. MacDonald, R. and Watson, Fiona (2007) "A History of the Native Woodlands of Scotland 1500-1920". Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 9780748632947
*cite web | url = http://www.rspb.org.uk/birds/guide/ | title = Species lists | publisher = RSPB | accessdaymonth = 9 January | accessyear = 2007


External links

* [http://www.snh.org.uk Scottish Natural Heritage]
* [http://www.forestry.gov.uk/website/fchomepages.nsf/hp/Scotland Forestry Commission Scotland]
* [http://www.jncc.gov.uk Joint Nature Conservation Committee]
* [http://www.swt.org.uk Scottish Wildlife Trust]
* [http://www.edinburghzoo.org.uk/ Royal Zoological Society of Scotland]
* [http://www.nnr-scotland.org.uk/ Scotland's National Nature Reserves]
* [http://www.rspb.org.uk/ Royal Society for the Protection of Birds]
* [http://www.seabird.org/ Scottish Seabird Centre]
* [http://www.cairngorms.co.uk/ Cairngorms National Park Authority]
* [http://www.lochlomond-trossachs.org/ Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority]
* [http://www.jmt.org/ John Muir Trust]
* [http://www.treesforlife.org.uk/ Trees for Life]
* [http://www.butterfly-conservation.org/downloads/49/bc_scotland.html Butterfly Conservation Scotland]
* [http://www.south-coast-central.co.uk/wildwood.htm Introduction To Britain’s Lost Wildwood]

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