We are running an experiment in biodiversity outside the front entrance to the museum. Next door to the allotment is a flowerbed which was planted with shrubs; a nice mix of plants which are often used for landscaping in urban green spaces. However, last summer, the shrubs were removed from half of it and it was planted out with British wildflowers instead. Now that spring is arriving, the first flowers are beginning to appear – cowslips and red campion on the wildflower plot, and heather in the shubbery.
Alongside students from the Faculty of Life Sciences and the Estates team, we will be monitoring these two plots to see which attracts the most insects as part of the university’s commitment to monitor the local wildlife and to manage the campus to increase biodiversity. It’s already clear that putting up the fence of coppiced chestnut wood has changed the environment in the wildflower plot as it has contained lots of the autumn leaves which fell from the nearby plane tree. Those which fell on the shrubs must have been blown away. These leaves may provide new habitats for insects to live in and over time as the leaves decay they will add to the soil.