“…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.
The 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…
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.
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.
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.