The urban bug enjoys a spot of golf

Don’t think for a moment that your city is not an ecosystem. Those centres of human population are also home to a whole bunch of native plants and animals! It’s those green spaces within the hustle and bustle that these species are after. 

However, some green spaces within a city are likely to be bigger drawcards for native species than others. What are these more important green spaces? What is it about them that attracts more species?

It’s these kinds of questions that Luis and his team were interested in, from the perspective of herbivorous and predatory heteropteran (a.k.a bugs). So they set about exploring a bunch of green spaces across objectively the best city in the world… They searched for bugs high and low…. In residential gardens… public parks… and at golf courses.

What they found was that golf courses supported many more species than other green spaces. Turns out it all had to do with vegetation volume and structure… golf courses simply had way way more of it. Gardens and parks weren’t without their bugs mind you, and they found that species-specific differences in where the bugs were hanging out were linked to plant diversity (some bugs liked it more diverse, others liked it less)

The take home message is that people managing these spaces now have a bit of how-to guide when it comes to making your green space the kind of place that has lots and lots of bugs (a.k.a a healthy ecosystem).

For the actual science of this story, you should definitely read the paper and contact the authors if you have any questions.

Mata L, Threlfall CG, Williams NSG, Hahs AK, Malipatil M, Stork NE & Livesley SJ (2017) Conserving herbivorous and predatory insects in urban green spaces. Scientific Reports 7: 40970.

K!E#27 by Luke S. O’Loughlin

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