- Fauna of Great Britain
The island of
Great Britain, along with the rest of the archipelago known as the British Isles, has a largely temperateenvironment. Animal diversity is modest due to several factors including; the size of the land area, seasonal changes and the age of the habitats found on the island. The fact that Great Britainhas such a small area, means that the number of species that can evolve is severely limited because there is not enough land mass to support extensive animal diversity. The environment and the ecology is also very young due to the appearance of an Ice Age, which means that there has been much less time for such diversity to develop. In most of Great Britain there is a temperate climate which receives high levels of precipitationand medium levels of sunlight. Further northwards, the climate becomes colder and coniferousforests appear replacing the largely deciduousforests of the south. The seasonal changes that occur across the country means that plants have to cope with many changes linked to levels of sunlight, and this has led to a lack of plant diversity. Ultimately this has limited animal speciation and diversification because there are fewer edible types of vegetation in the habitats found on the island. Since the mid eighteenth century, Great Britain has gone through industrialisationand increasing urbanisation. This has had a major impact on indigenous animal populations. Song birds in particular are becoming more scarce and habitat loss has affected larger mammalianspecies. Some species have however adapted to the expanding urban environment, particularly the Red Fox, which is the most successful urban mammal after the Brown Rat.
There are 209 species of non-marine molluscs in the wild in Britain, and two of them ("
Fruticicola fruticum" and " Cernuella neglecta") are locally extinct. In addition there are 14 gastropod species in greenhouses. [cite journal
journal = Journal of Conchology
pages = 607–637
title = An annotated list of the non-marine molluscs of Britain and Ireland
last = Anderson
first = Roy
volume = 38
issue = 6
year = 2005
issn = 1753-2205
url = http://www.conchsoc.org/pages/n_m_list.htm
language = English
format = dead link|date=June 2008 – [http://scholar.google.co.uk/scholar?hl=en&lr=&q=author%3A+intitle%3AAn+annotated+list+of+the+non-marine+molluscs+of+Britain+and+Ireland&as_publication=Journal+of+Conchology&as_ylo=2005&as_yhi=2005&btnG=Search Scholar search] ]
In general the avifauna of Britain is, of course, similar to that of
Europe, consisting largely of Palaearctic species. As an island, it has fewer breeding species than continental Europe, with some species, like Crested Lark, breeding as close as northern France, yet unable to colonise Britain.
The mild winters mean that many species that cannot cope with harsher conditions can winter in Britain, and also that there is a large influx of wintering birds from the continent or beyond.
There are about 250 species regularly recorded in Great Britain, and another 300 that occur with varying degrees of rarity.
Large mammals are not particularly numerous in Great Britain. Many of the bigger species, such as the
Grey Wolfand the Brown Bear, were hunted to extinction many centuries ago. However, in recent times many of these large mammals have been tentatively reintroduced to some areas of mainland Britain. The largest mammals that remain in Britain today are predominantly members of the Deerfamily. The Red Deeris the largest mammal native species, and is found commonly throughout England, Scotlandand Wales. The other indigenous species is the Roe Deer. The common Fallow Deeris in fact not native to Britain, and was brought over from Franceby the Normansin the early 9th century and has become well established. The Sika Deeris another small species of deer which is not indigenous, and instead comes from Japan. It is widespread and expanding in Scotland from west to east, with a strong population in Peeblesshire. Bands of Sika exist across the north and south of England though it is absent in Wales. [cite journal|author=Ratcliffe, P. R. |year=1987 |title=Distribution and current status of Sika deer, "Cervus nippon", in Great Britain |journal=Mammal Review |volume=17 |pages=39–58]
There are also several species of
insectivorefound in Britain. The hedgehogis probably the most widely known as it is a regular visitor to urban gardens. Sadly it is also vulnerable to road traffic, and many are killed crossing busy motorways and dual carriageways. The mole is also widely recognised and its subterranean lifestyle causes much damage to garden lawns. Shrews are also fairly common, and the smallest, the Pygmy Shrew, is one of the smallest mammals in the world. There are also several species of Batfound in Britain, and the Pipistrelle Batis the smallest and the most common of them all. Rodents are also numerous across Britain, particularly the Brown Rat which is by far the most abundant urban animal after humans. Some however, are becoming increasingly rare. Habitatdestruction has led to a population decrease in the number of dormiceand Bank Voles found in Britain. Due to the introduction of the alien Grey Squirrel, the Red Squirrelhad become largely extinct in England, with the last population existing in parts of Scotland, North West England and Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour in Dorset. Rabbitsand Haresare also abundant in Britain. There are a variety of carnivors, especially from the weasel family (ranging in size from the Weasel, Stoatand European Polecatto the Badgerand Pine Martenand including the introduced Minkand semiaquatic Otter). In the absence of the extict Wolfand Brown Bearthe largest carnivores are the Red Fox, the adaptability and opportunism of which has allowed it to proliferate in the urban environment, and the Scottish Wildcatwhose elusiveness has caused some confusion over population numbers, and is believed to be highly endangered.
Various species of seal and
dolphinare found seasonally on British shores and coastlines.
Fauna of Europe
Atlases of the flora and fauna of Britain and Ireland
Institute of Terrestrial Ecology atlases
List of endangered species in the British Isles
List of extinct animals of the British Isles
* [http://delta-intkey.com/britmo/ The Families of British Non-marine Molluscs (Slugs, Snails and Mussels)]
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Look at other dictionaries:
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