Find out more about the UK’s wildlife from birds of prey to wildflowers and from marine wildlife to trees and fungi.
Invertebrate are animals that do not have backbones, such as insects, spiders and butterflies. In the UK alone invertebrates number over 30,000 terrestrial and freshwater species and 7,000 marine species. Many invertebrate species are in decline as a result of being slow to disperse into new locations and being extremely sensitive to environmental change.
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Butterflies are recognised for their value as indicators of the state of the environment and their populations have been taken scientifically and politically as a key measure of biodiversity and environmental health. They are highly sensitive to subtle climatic and habitat changes, and their numbers also shed light on the fortunes of thousands of other insect species that form the core of the UK’s biodiversity and perform vital roles in the ecosystem which underpins human welfare and prosperity.
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There are six species of reptiles native to the UK: adders (also known as vipers), grass snakes, smooth snakes, sand lizards, common lizards and slow worms. Dry heathlands are the best natural habitats for British reptiles, but semi-natural areas with heath-like conditions such as railway embankments, sea walls, road verges, churchyards, golf courses and almost any area with a sunny south facing slope and open vegetation may be suitable.
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Approximately 40 different native species of fish have been recorded in England with 7 native to the UK.
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There are seven amphibian species native to Great Britain that include three newts, two toads and two frogs. Evidence is mounting that a 13th species, the Pool Frog, was once a native of Norfolk, although there are a number of introduced species, naturalised in the wider countryside. Some introduced species may pose a threat to native wildlife.
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Mammals play a vital role in maintaining a balanced ecosystem in the UK as a keystone predator and prey species and as shapers of our environment. Small mammals sustain our rare carnivores and birds of prey, and bats control insect numbers. Rabbits and deer are important grazers in grassland and forest. The otter and water vole indicate excellent water quality in our rivers. And thriving harvest mouse and hedgehog populations represent diverse, connected landscapes.
Find out more about mammals here