Science in the Garden

I came across an article at the NatGeo News Watch blog that relates directly to an ongoing theme at Gardening Zone 3b — that gardens have the potential to help support biodiversity. The article is based on a new study released by scientists at the University of Leeds, England.

Some quotes from lead author Mark Goddard, as found in the NatGeo article:

“Gardens don’t exist in isolation, they link together to form interconnected habitat networks that should be planned and managed in conjunction with parks, nature reserves and the surrounding countryside,” said Mark Goddard, PhD student in the Faculty of Biological Sciences at the University of Leeds and lead author of a paper entitled: “Scaling up from gardens: biodiversity conservation in urban environments.”

“One person may plant a tree or create a pond in their own back garden, but the survival of many of the mobile species that live in towns and cities, such as birds and mammals, is dependent on the provision of larger areas of habitat,”

“If neighbors in a street were all to coordinate the management of their gardens in a complementary way, for example by planting a continuous strip of trees throughout a swathe of gardens, the benefits to backyard biodiversity will far outweigh the contribution made by one or two households alone,” Goddard said.

Read the complete National Geographic article: Connect neighborhood gardens to save biodiversity.

See an article on the study at the University of Leeds.

The abstract:

Ecology and Evolution
The Journal

As urbanisation increases globally and the natural environment becomes increasingly fragmented, the importance of urban green spaces for biodiversity conservation grows. In many countries, private gardens are a major component of urban green space and can provide considerable biodiversity benefits. Gardens and adjacent habitats form interconnected networks and a landscape ecology framework is necessary to understand the relationship between the spatial configuration of garden patches and their constituent biodiversity. A scale-dependent tension is apparent in garden management, whereby the individual garden is much smaller than the unit of management needed to retain viable populations. To overcome this, here we suggest mechanisms for encouraging ‘wildlife-friendly’ management of collections of gardens across scales from the neighbourhood to the city.

Scaling up from gardens: biodiversity conservation in urban environments. Mark A. Goddard, Andrew J. Dougill and Tim G. Benton. doi:10.1016/j.tree.2009.07.016


3 thoughts on “Science in the Garden

  1. Interesting perspective on the contributions of all neighbourhood gardens to a larger system.

    I do like that my neighbourhood is heavily treed, and therefore feels like a natural extension of the wooded ravine it sits beside. And also, that is seems to be a gardener’s neighbourhood. Not sure what we are all contributing to the biodiversity, but it does seem to attract the birds and that is very encouraging.


  2. That is what we miss in our neighborhood – tree-lined streets.When you look at a Google map of our area, however, you can see that almost every yard has a tree or two. However, what is lacking is the understory planting.


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