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15 Mar 2012

Exciting Project For Portman Road: Urban Pollinators

UPDATED 12 April 2012

A bit of Portman Road will soon be dug up as part on an exciting experiment investigating the occurrence of urban pollinators - insects like bees, flies, butterflies and beetles.  It is a country wide project studying pollinating insects in urban environments, farms and nature reserves, Portman Road being selected as an urban environment.  

The project will take two years and will involve sowing flowers in fifteen parks with each having an area of 300 square metres.  Within these fifteen areas five will be sown with perennial flowers and ten with annual flowers.  Portman Road has been chosen to be sown with perennial and this will take place before the end of the month (March).  The preparation work will involve spraying the area to kill the existing grass, rotivation and then seeding.  Some of the flowers being sown include:

Yarrow
Wild carrot
Lady's Bedstraw
Field Scabious
Ox-eye daisy
Birdsfoot trefoil
Cowslip

The project will answer three questions:
  1. Where exactly is the pollinator biodiversity in the UK – urban habitats, farmland or nature reserves?
  2. Where are the hot-spots of pollinator biodiversity in cities?
  3. What can we do to improve their diversity and abundance in cities? 
This final question will be answered by sowing flower mixtures high in nectar and pollen in Portman Road along with other urban sites in Bristol, Edinburgh, Leeds. 

I love projects like these.  I studied Rural Environmental Science at the University of Reading and one of my fondest memories is sitting on a hill in the Peak District with a quadrant counting plant species. I have asked to be kept up to date with what is happening and will visit the site.  I await the results with interest!

Photos with thanks to Claire Harrison and Lorian Hartgroves

The Reading project can be followed @ReadingUrbPolls and the projects website is http://www.bristol.ac.uk/biology/research/ecological/community/pollinators/.

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