Some photos that have left the cradle!

1. Amegilla sp. on Pelargonium australe

Westgate Park, City of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Our backyard frontier | Gardens for Wildlife Victoria

2. Dajaca monilicornis

Similajau National Park, Borneo, Sarawak, Malaysia

Büscher TH, Buckley TR, Grohmann C, Gorb SN, Bradler S. (2018) The evolution of tarsal adhesive microstructures in stick and leaf insects (Phasmatodea). Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 6: 69.

3. Dindymus versicolor mating

Dights Falls, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Ives C, Lynch Y | Untapping the potential of science-government partnerships to benefit urban nature | The Nature of Cities, 31 August 2014

4. Apis mellifera on Foeniculum vulgare

Westgate Park, City of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Seeing the coloured light: Bee brains open way for better cameras | Scimex, 4 July 2017

Honey bees see a world of colour through five eyes | Herald Sun, 3 July 2017

5. Amegilla sp. on Pelargonium australe

Westgate Park, City of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Indigenous knowledge and nature in our cities | MPavilion

MPavilion: February | Assemble Papers

6. Apis mellifera on Scaevola calendulacea

Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne, Cranbourne, City of Casey, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Flowers get clever, combining fragrance and colour to attract just the right bee | ABC News, 12 September 2017

How flowers use colour to signal their scent | RMIT News, 12 September 2017

7. Megachile sp. on nonnative daisy

Systems Garden, The University of Melbourne Parkville Campus, City of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Artwork paired with a symposium at the Ecological Society of Australia conference 2015 | Artefact

8. Gminatus australis on nonnative Senecio

Razorback ridge, Alpine National Park, Victoria, Australia

Artwork paired with a symposium at the Ecological Society of Australia conference 2015 | Artefact

9. Westgate Park’s freshwater lake

Westgate Park, City of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

City of Melbourne. (2017) Nature in the City – Thriving biodiversity and healthy ecosystems. City of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia.

10. Ants inside a pumpkin flower

El Pinar, El Hierro, Canary Islands, Spain

Wolf G, Miranda A, eds. (2011) Construcción Colaborativa del Conocimiento. Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Coyoacán, México.

11. Hoverfly on Bulbine bulbosa

Knox Environment Society Indigenous Nursery, Wally Tew Reserve, Ferntree Gully, City of Knox, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Kwak M | Ditch the Daffodils and grow this native bulb instead | Remeber the Wild, 1 July 2020.

Conserving herbivorous and predatory insects in urban green spaces

This post is about a paper entitled Conserving herbivorous and predatory insects in urban green spaces that my colleagues Caragh Threlfall, Nick Williams, Amy Hahs, Mali Malipatil, Nigel Stork, Steve Livesley and I published in Scientific Report.

All species in this planet are delicately interlinked to each other in a beautifully complex network of ecological interactions. In cities, insects are key components of urban ecological networks and are greatly impacted by anthropogenic activities. In this paper we examined how insect functional groups respond to changes to urban vegetation associated with different management actions. We set out to investigate how herbivorous and predatory heteropteran bugs were influenced by differences in vegetation structure and diversity in a series of urban green spaces throughout southeastern Melbourne. The studied green spaces included golf courses, gardens and parks.

Examples of herbivorous and predatory heteropteran bugs. Top: The alydid Mutusca brevicornis is a herbivorous species that specialises on indigenous grasses. Bottom: The assassin bugs Gminatus australis is a generalist predatory species.

We looked at how the species richness of herbivorous and predatory heteropteran bugs varied amongst the different types of green space, and the effect that vegetation volume and plant diversity had on trophic- and species-specific occupancy. To this purpose we used a special type of modelling framework, namely ‘multi-species site occupancy models’. The hierarchical structure of multi-species site occupancy models is composed of three levels: a level for the ecological process (e.g. species site occupancy), another for the observation process (i.e. species detectability), and a third to account for the sampling of each species from its metacommunity.

In the paper we report that golf courses sustain higher species richness of herbivorous and predatory heteropteran bugs than parks and gardens, and that at the trophic- and species-specific levels, herbivores and predators show strong positive responses to vegetation volume. However, we also report that the effect of plant diversity is distinctly species-specific, with species showing both positive and negative responses.

Predicted mean trophic-level (a,b) and species-specific (c–f) responses of herbivorous (a–d blue solid lines) and predatory (a,b: red dashed lines; (e,f) red solid lines) bugs to the vegetation volume (a,c,d) and plant species diversity (b,d,f) gradients. Species illustrated are limited to those that showed a strong response to the covariates (i.e., those with 99, 95 and 75% CIs that did not overlap zero).

Our findings highlight that high occupancy of herbivorous and predatory bugs is obtained in green spaces with specific combinations of vegetation structure and diversity. We point out that the challenge faced by green space managers is how they can boost the conservation value of all urban green spaces for herbivorous and predatory insects through management strategies and actions aimed at promoting synergistic combinations of vegetation structure and plant diversity. We suggest that this will be especially important in large green spaces with simple vegetation structure, and in smaller green spaces such as public parks and residential gardens where a heterogeneity of planting structure and diversity is more difficult to intentionally achieve. We believe that tackling this conservation challenge could provide enormous benefits for all other elements of urban ecological networks, including human city-dwellers.

The Little Things that Run the City – Final Report

the-little-things-that-run-the-city-final-report-15sep2016-cover

How did The Little Things that Run the City project get its name?

The Little Things that Run the City has been inspired by Edward O. Wilson’s famous quote:

“…let me say a word on behalf of these little things that run the world”

The quote was part of an address given by Wilson on occasion of the opening of the invertebrate exhibit of the National Zoological Park (Washington D.C., USA). It later appeared in writing format in the first volume of the journal Conservation Biology.

The key objective of Wilson’s address was to stress the urgent need to recognise the importance of insects and other invertebrates for humanity. Almost 30 years ago he was keen to see that efforts aimed at the conservation of biodiversity were beginning to also include non-vertebrate animals. In his words:

“A hundred years ago few people thought of saving any kind of animal or plant. The circle of concern has expanded steadily since, and it is just now beginning to encompass the invertebrates. For reasons that have to do with almost every facet of human welfare, we should welcome this new development.”

In this research collaboration with the City of Melbourne we aim to expand the circle further to also encompass the conservation of insects and other invertebrates in urban environments.

We are inspired to ‘say a word on behalf of the little things that run the city’.

Cover art by Kate Cranney.

Target species for rewilding, monitoring and public engagement in the City of Melbourne

target-species-for-rewilding-monitoring-and-public-engagement-in-the-city-of-melbourne-cover

On the 16th February 2016, the Urban Sustainability Branch of the City of Melbourne conducted a workshop with a working group of plant, fungi, bird, reptile, frog, mammal, insect and mollusc experts with the objective of identifying appropriate target species for rewilding, monitoring and public engagement in the City of Melbourne. The workshop was undertaken in close collaboration with our RMIT University’s Interdisciplinary Conservation Science Research Group and the Shared Urban Habitat research project of the National Environmental Science Programme – Clean Air and Urban Landscapes Hub.

The ‘Target species for rewilding, monitoring and public engagement in the City of Melbourne’ report aims to summarise the events that took place during the workshop and present its most significant findings, including a list of potential species that could be targeted for rewilding, monitoring and/or public engagement actions in the municipality.

Holding on to what’s golden

golden-sun-moth-2-photo-by-rustem-upton
An adult golden sun-moth in Chepstow, Victoria (Photo by Rustem Upton courtesy of Anna Backstrom)
We recently had our ‘Golden sun-moth’ research featured in the news section of the National Environmental Science Programme – Threatened Species Recovery Hub as part of a story entitled ‘Holding on to what’s golden’.

New ARC-Linkage Project: Designing green spaces for biodiversity and human well-being

ICON Science

FB view - CourtyardThe health and well-being of urban residents is intrinsically linked to green spaces and their biodiversity. Yet little is known about the mechanisms through which green space design delivers biodiversity and human well-being benefits. Through our recently funded Australian Research Council – Linkage Project ‘Designing green spaces for biodiversity and human well-being’ we aim to discover those mechanisms, contributing to theoretical knowledge about socio-ecological interactions, and to practical knowledge about effective urban design. We aim to:

1. Investigate the mechanisms linking green space design to biodiversity outcomes;

2. Investigate the mechanisms linking green space to human well-being; and

3. Develop best practice urban design guidelines that reflect these mechanisms and supports biodiversity and human well-being.

The involvement of a major city council (The City of Melbourne), an international consulting agency (Arup), a landscape design firm (Phillip Johnson Landscapes) and an environmental NGO (Greening Australia) as Partner Organisations on the project…

View original post 81 more words

The Little Things that Run the City – 2015 Report

The little things that run the city 201115 (lowres)-1

How many insect species live in your city? How are they distributed amongst the city’s green spaces? What are the ecological processes they perform and ecosystem services they deliver? What are their most frequent ecological interactions?

The Little Things that Run the City is a project that aims to address these and other questions within the boundaries of the City of Melbourne, Australia. Results stemming from this research are contributing to identify particular insects with key functional roles that benefit human city dwellers, determine where to prioritise conservation activities, guide the design and maintenance of green spaces, and assist city’s decision-makers in considering insects in broader biodiversity plans and strategies.

The project was inspired by Edward O. Wilson’s famous quote “…let me say a word on behalf of these little things that run the world”. Almost 30 years ago, he was keen to see that the circle of concern for animal conservation was beginning to encompass non-vertebrate animals. In this project we sought to further expand this circle so that it may also encompass the conservation of insects and other invertebrates in urban environments. Join us as we say a word on behalf of the little things that run the city.

Cover artwork by Kate Cranney.

 

The conservation value of urban green space habitats for Australian native bee communities

This post is about a new paper titled ‘The conservation value of urban green space habitats for Australian native bee communities’ we have recently published in Biological Conservation that assesses whether networks of urban green spaces can be managed to provide bee habitat in urban landscapes.

We set out to address this question by exploring the distribution patterns of 19 bee species in south-eastern Melbourne (Victoria, Australia), including both native species, such as the short-tongued ground-nesting bees Homalictus sphecodoides and Lasioglossum brunnesetum, and exotic species, such as the European Honeybee Apis mellifera.

Homalictus sphecodoides (Reiner Richter - BowerBird)

Lasioglossum brunnesetum (Reiner Richter - BowerBird)

Apis mellifera
The short-tongued ground-nesting native Australian bees Homalictus sphecodoides (Top) and Lasioglossum brunnesetum (Middle), and the exotic European Honeybee Apis mellifera (Bottom). Photos by Reiner Richter (top and middle) and myself (bottom). Native species identified by Ken Walker.

We found that providing resources critical to diverse bee communities (eg, native plants) can assist in maintaining these key pollinators in urban landscapes, and highlight the need to include urban areas in pollinator conservation initiatives.

Thanks for your interest!

If you would like to find more about the paper drop me an e-mail at luis.mata(at)rmit.edu.au and I will send you a copy.

If would like to check out some interesting pollination photographs please click here.

simulatingcomplexity

From the world of Complex Systems Simulation in Humanities

THE WISDOM COLLECTOR

GRATITUDE RAMBLINGS

Scientist Sees Squirrel

Seldom original. Often wrong. Occasionally interesting.

Ecology Ngātahi

working together to understand ecological interconnections

life on the verge

Stories from species living on the edge and life as an early-career researcher

Mark W. Schwartz

Management relevant conservation research

Poky Ecology

Exploring the weird and wonderful lives of tiny organisms.

Kirsten Parris

School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences, The University of Melbourne

ConservationBytes.com

Conservation research ... with bite

The Prairie Ecologist

Essays, photos, and discussion about prairie ecology, restoration, and management

Tesselations In Nature

A blog about science communication and natural history

Dynamic Ecology

Multa novit vulpes

The Smaller Majority

Tales of Nature and Photography by Piotr Naskrecki

Michelle Freeman's Research

"From little things big things grow" - Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody

Citizen Science Association

A community of practice for the field of public participation in scientific research.

ArteFact

art inspiring nature conservation

The Applied Ecologist

Bridging the gap between researchers, practitioners and policymakers

Arthropod Ecology

Writings about arthropod ecology, arachnids & academia at McGill University

Dbytes

A topnotch WordPress.com site

Ideas for Sustainability

A blog by Joern Fischer and his collaborators on sustainability and landscape ecology: engaging your head and your heart

THE DIRT

UNITING THE BUILT & NATURAL ENVIRONMENTS

UGEC Viewpoints

A Blog on Urbanization and Global Environmental Change

strange behaviors

Cool doings from the natural and human worlds