London - Tiny birds, bees and butterflies are to be tracked from space to give warning of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.

Astronauts are to install a dedicated wildlife receiver on the International Space Station, which will track the course of thousands of small animals.

Animals are known to sense tectonic activity well before major seismic shifts - an ability which could be used to give us prior warning of natural disasters.

Uschi Müller, co-ordinator of the £33-million Icarus project, said: “It could give an extra five hours warning of a disaster.’”

The devices could also help track and predict the spreads of animal-borne diseases such as Sars and bird flu.

The Icarus scheme is a joint project run by the German and Russian space agencies and 12 scientific groups. - Daily Mail