The Little Things that Run the City – Final Report

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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.

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

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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

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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

Conservation Science Blog

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…

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The Little Things that Run the City – 2015 Report

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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.

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