M.O.B. Gardening Club

Birds,Bugs and Roundabouts

Our speaker this month was Simon Leather who is a Professor of Entomology at Harper Adams. He was fascinated by insects from a young age. When living in Kingston,Jamaica he saw lots of brightly coloured,sometimes dangerous insects and became interested in biodiversity on islands.

Islands are very interesting to study as their biodiversity is different from that of the mainland. As Charles Darwin discovered,islands have more species and this has implications for how evolution and natural selection works and how conservation can best be implemented. 

Simon wanted to be able to demonstrate this to students but travelling to exotic parts of the globe was not an option. He already knew that urban gardens provided the habitats for a wide range of species. He came up with an idea on his way to work one day as he travelled around eighteen roundabouts – or urban green spaces – as he refers to them. He could use roundabouts as accessible study sites for his students.

Were urban green spaces significant reservoirs of biodiversity? If so,can they be improved and is there a conservation role?

To find out,they chose different types of roundabouts,large and small. They collected beetles using pitfall traps (a plastic cup sunk into the soil with a small amount of water in the bottom),suction sampling (a big hoover) and tree beating (using a stick to hit a tree ten times and collect what drops out onto a white sheet). They used the college green space as a control study.

What did they find?

They found lots of insects on the roundabouts,the bigger the roundabout,the more species there were. They found rare species of beetles and bugs. They found bumblebees on the roundabouts where there was flower planting. The more trees there were,the more tree bug species there were. They found 44 species of bird and the more native species of trees there were,the more birds there were. They found that the grass species sites had less species after mowing and fewer bumblebees. There were more species on the roundabouts than at the college.

The conclusions were that roundabouts or traffic islands are important reservoirs of biodiversity and they act the same as real islands. They can be improved by sensible management and in fact the council began to mow the roundabouts less. They now grow more native species of flowers and trees to encourage lots of insects,bugs and bumblebees. This practice has now been adopted across the country.

And in fact we can do the same in our own gardens.

Our next meeting is April 17th and is David Adams talking about “History of The Limestone Quarries and Canals of the Lilleshall area.. It is £2 for members and £3 for non-members and includes refreshments and a raffle.

Visitors are always welcome.

We start at 7.30 p.m. in the bar at the Millennium Hall.

Mary Cowell

Gardening Club Secretary

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