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T2.44 - fact sheet

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Interactions between tourists, birds and climate change at the

Tourists are attracted to coastal areas not just by beaches but also by the region's animal and plant life. However, the
presence of people can affect the survival of birds that breed in coastal habitats. Sea level rise and climate change in East
Anglia are likely to change the size of beaches and increase extreme weather events, which will affect tourist distribution
and also influence biodiversity. These interactions need to be understood so decision-makers can manage changes and
allow tourists and birdlife to adapt.

Professor William Sutherland, from the University of East Anglia's School of Biological Sciences, and colleagues are linking
simulations of human decision-making with simulations of species distribution to model the preferences of tourists and birds
and assess their future distribution. With the assistance of local authorities, they will initially measure tourist distribution by
videoing coastal areas from an aeroplane and visiting sites to record infrastructure and beach width. They will also survey
bird species and habitats by visiting beaches along the entire Norfolk coast. The researchers will assess tourist choices by
combining the information about current tourist movements with information about weather, tide, beach quality and
facilities, road access and socio-economic data from the UK Census. They will then use scenarios of future climate and sea
level change to determine changes in tourism and bird nesting patterns. Both people and birds rank locations and pick the
best available, so similar theories will be used to model their future distributions.

The results will provide an understanding of tourist choices so planners can decide what structural changes need to be
introduced to protect sections of the coastline and the consequences of such changes. The researchers will design the
models to be readily integrated with the Tyndall Centre's Regional Coastal Simulator so climate change impacts on beach
structure and weather can be linked with tourism and biodiversity.

Researchers are integrating climate models of coastline changes, social models of human decisions and ecological models
of bird populations to predict the effects of climate change and responses such as managed realignment on future tourist
distribution and biodiversity.
Credit: © M. Robinson

More information

Contact the lead investigator of Project T2.44 (Interactions between tourism, biodiversity and climate change in the coastal
Professor William Sutherland
School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK

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T2.44 - fact sheet

Phone: +44 (0) 1603 59 2778; Fax: +44 (0) 1603 59 2250

Other researchers involved in this project are:

Professor Ian Bateman, Dr Jennifer Gill, Dr Andy Jones, Professor Robert Sugden and Professor Andrew Watkinson,
University of East Anglia
Dr Mikis Tsimplis, Southampton Oceanography Centre, University of Southampton
Dr Durwyn Liley, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
Mr Neil Warren, East of England Tourist Board

Project duration:
January 2003 to December 2003

Useful web sites:

The Tyndall Centre:
Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Conservation:
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds:

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