Over a thousand species of plants, animals and fungi – such a wealth of living organisms was hidden in the house and yard of Australian researchers. Scientists managed to observe them in just 12 months. As they emphasized, this shows how biologically diverse urban landscapes can be.
Biodiversity is a concept that refers not only to naturally valuable, pristine habitats. Many species of plants, animals and fungi thrive in the vicinity of human habitations. As a study recently published in the scientific journal “Ecology” shows, even in the vicinity of a large city, flora and fauna can surprise with their richness.
Invader in the yard
The study was conducted by three scientists from the University of Queensland in Australia. In 2020, they rented a house together in the Brisbane suburb of Annerley. During the lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, experts observed species of animals, plants and fungi that appeared in their yard and entered the house over the course of the year.
– We asked ecologists and conservation scientists how many species they would expect to find in this environment. According to their estimates, there should be at most 200 of them – said Matt Holden, one of the authors. – After 60 days, we have already observed 777 species – he added.
Within 12 months, scientists recorded the presence of 1,150 species of animals, plants and fungi. A lot of arthropods were observed on the property – 436 species of moths and butterflies and 56 different spiders, as well as 56 species of birds. What surprised the researchers most was that the three species found had not previously been registered in the “Atlas of Living Australia” database, which collects data on Australian biodiversity.
Biodiversity in the city
As Holden explained, the scientists’ quite ordinary property turned out to be an ecosystem full of animals that depended on others for survival. For example, moth larvae Scatochresis innumera they only fed on the feces of a small marsupial – the red foxtail (Trichosurus vulpecula). This shows that suburban houses and apartments can boast much greater biodiversity than we imagined.
– It all depends on how people take care of their homes and gardens – said the expert. – Planting low-maintenance trees and shrubs and eliminating manicured lawns and pesticides can increase the number of visitors to your property. To learn about the richness of species in Australia, you don’t have to travel, just look in your own backyard – he added.
The Conversation, University of Queensland
Main photo source: Shutterstock (illustrative image)