Biodiversity in cities.  How many species can we find in an urban backyard?  There may be more than a thousand of them.  Study from Australia

More than a thousand species of plants, animals and fungi – this wealth of living organisms was hidden in the home and yard of Australian researchers. Scientists were able to observe them in just 12 months. As they emphasize, this demonstrates how biodiverse urban landscapes are.

Biodiversity is a concept that refers not only to natural habitats of natural value. Many species of plants, animals, and fungi thrive near human habitations. A study whose results were recently published in the scientific journal Ecology showed that even in the vicinity of a large city, plants and animals can surprise with their richness.

Occupier in the yard

The study was conducted by three scientists from the University of Queensland in Australia. In 2020, they rented a house together in the Brisbane suburb of Anerley. During the lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, experts noticed species of animals, plants and fungi appearing in their yards and entering their homes throughout the year.

We asked ecologists and conservationists how many species they would expect to find in this environment. According to their estimates, there should be 200 of them at most – said Matt Holden, one of the authors. He added: – After 60 days, we have already detected 777 species.

Within 12 months, scientists recorded the presence of 1,150 species of animals, plants and fungi. Many arthropods have been observed on the property – 436 species of moths and butterflies and 56 different spider species, as well as 56 species of birds. What surprised the researchers most was that the three species found had not previously been registered in the Atlas of Life in Australia database, which collects data on Australian biodiversity.

Kitanka lesia (trichosaurus fox)Shutterstock (illustration)

Biodiversity in the city

As Holden explains, a perfectly ordinary property for scientists turns out to be an ecosystem full of animals that depend on others for survival. For example, moth larvae Scatochresis is countless They fed only on the excrement of a small marsupial – the red fox tail (Trichosurus vipecula). This shows that suburban homes and apartments could have much greater biodiversity than we imagined.

– It all depends on how people take care of their homes and gardens – said the expert. Planting low-maintenance trees and shrubs and eliminating manicured lawns and pesticides can increase the number of visitors to your property. He added that to learn about Australia’s species richness, you don’t have to travel, just take a look in your backyard.

Conversation, University of Queensland

Main image source: Shutterstock (illustration)

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