WTSWW Supports Important Climate Change PhD Research

The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales (WTSWW) is working in partnership with Cardiff University School of Biosciences PhD student, James Vafidis, to examine the effect of climate change on wetland birds in South Wales.

ESF logoFunded by the European Social Fund Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarship Project, with support from WTSWW, James will conduct research on the breeding and migration ecology of reed warblers, sedge warblers and Cetti’s warblers that rely on wetland habitats throughout the year.

Habitat, prey abundance and climate data will be collected throughout the warblers’ annual cycles, with fieldwork undertaken in breeding grounds in South Wales, migration stopover sites in Portugal and wintering grounds in West Africa.

The study will involve analysis of long term datasets, experimental temperature manipulations of reedbed habitats and food supplementation studies to reveal responses to changes in climate along the food chain.

Sedge Warbler

Sedge Warbler

Part of the field research for the project takes place on wetland sites managed by the WTSWW including Cadoxton Ponds in the Vale of Glamorgan and Parc Slip Nature Reserve in Bridgend.

The complementary relationship between WTSWW and the Cardiff School of Biosciences supports scientific research projects, highlights important conservation issues and enables WTSWW to share research findings with its members.

James’ Supervisor Doctor Rob Thomas, from Cardiff University has high hopes for the project, saying, “This project initiates an exciting new collaboration between Cardiff University and WTSWW, to address the major ecological issue of our time; namely how climate change will affect ecosystems, species and individual organisms.”

Sedge Warbler Nest

Sedge Warbler Nest

The study will provide an important perspective on the conservation of biodiversity in Wales and the UK and highlight the need to protect vulnerable habitats. The project will run until September 2014.