Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Major Loss of Insect Biomass in Protected Areas

So this is some sombering, sombering news. A report came out last week in the journal Plos One, talking about a study tracking the devastating decline in flying insect populations over the last 27 years on nature reserves in Germany. More than a 75% decline in total flying insect biomass (the total mass of organisms in a given area or volume) in protected areas. An excerpt from the abstract reads,
Loss of insect diversity and abundance is expected to provoke cascading effects on food webs and to jeopardize ecosystem services. Our understanding of the extent and underlying causes of this decline is based on the abundance of single species or taxonomic groups only, rather than changes in insect biomass which is more relevant for ecological functioning. Here, we used a standardized protocol to measure total insect biomass using Malaise traps, deployed over 27 years in 63 nature protection areas in Germany (96 unique location-year combinations) to infer on the status and trend of local entomofauna. Our analysis estimates a seasonal decline of 76%, and mid-summer decline of 82% in flying insect biomass over the 27 years of study. We show that this decline is apparent regardless of habitat type, while changes in weather, land use, and habitat characteristics cannot explain this overall decline. This yet unrecognized loss of insect biomass must be taken into account in evaluating declines in abundance of species depending on insects as a food source, and ecosystem functioning in the European landscape.
The paper ends with the following:

 The widespread insect biomass decline is alarming, ever more so as all traps were placed in protected areas that are meant to preserve ecosystem functions and biodiversity. While the gradual decline of rare insect species has been known for quite some time (e.g. specialized butterflies [9, 66]), our results illustrate an ongoing and rapid decline in total amount of airborne insects active in space and time. Agricultural intensification, including the disappearance of field margins and new crop protection methods has been associated with an overall decline of biodiversity in plants, insects, birds and other species in the current landscape [20, 27, 67]. The major and hitherto unrecognized loss of insect biomass that we report here for protected areas, adds a new dimension to this discussion, because it must have cascading effects across trophic levels and numerous other ecosystem effects. There is an urgent need to uncover the causes of this decline, its geographical extent, and to understand the ramifications of the decline for ecosystems and ecosystem services.

Doug Tallamy is coming to Town!

Yas! Doug Tallamy, author of Bringing Nature Home is coming to Hamilton. Here is what he'll be presenting on: A Chickadee’s Guide To Gardening

Doug Tallamy
In the past we have designed our landscapes strictly for our own pleasure, with no thought to how they might impact the natural world around us.  Such landscapes do not contribute much to local ecosystem function and support little life.

Using chickadees and other wildlife as guides, Tallamy will explain how plants that evolved in concert with local animals provide for their needs better than plants that evolved elsewhere.

In the process he shows how creating living landscapes sharing by our spaces with other living things will not reduce our pleasurable garden experiences, but enhance them.

Doug Tallamy is a professor in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, where he has authored 87 research publications and has taught Insect Taxonomy, Behavioral Ecology, Humans and Nature, Insect Ecology, and other courses for 36 years.

Chief among his research goals is to better understand the many ways insects interact with plants and how such interactions determine the diversity of animal communities. His book Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens was published by Timber Press in 2007 and was awarded the 2008 Silver Medal by the Garden Writers' Association. The Living Landscape, co-authored with Rick Darke, was published in 2014. Doug is also a regular columnist for garden Design magazine. Among his awards are the Garden Club of America Margaret Douglas Medal for Conservation and the Tom Dodd, Jr. Award of Excellence.
Tickets are still available. Get 'em.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Planting Paradise, Growing the Corridor: Corporations Get on Board

Planting Paradise at Terrapure
Building Hamilton's Pollinator Corridor requires all hands on shovels. We need the participation of people from across the diverse sectors of the community. That's why we are thrilled to put two local corporate partners on the map: Terrapure Environmental and the Hamilton Port Authority have joined us in planting critically needed habitat on their properties.

The last few days, we've been digging in the dirt together and planting native plant species in anticipation of drawing pollinators to these sites.

The largest pollinator "patch" within our corridor, Terrapure is transforming a closed landfill into a paradise by planting three acres of  habitat at the Heritage Green Passive Park in upper Stoney Creek.
 “We saw this initiative as a wonderful opportunity to provide much-need pollinator habitat and educate the public about the importance of pollinators to our eco-system," said Michael Jovanovic, VP of Environmental Affairs at Terrapure. "We hope our actions will encourage residents and businesses to consider starting their own pollinator paradise at home or work."

Planting paradise, Terrapure.
Last Saturday, local volunteers from across Hamilton helped plant four unique wildflower gardens on the property that will provide pollinator habitats to feed specific pollinator species. Each demonstration garden will have an interpretative sign explaining the species of plants and the importance of various pollinators to our local eco-system.

Residents were given the opportunity to purchase similar native plants for their home gardens at a native plant sale featuring local growers. Everyone in attendance also took home a package of free pollinator wildflower seeds.

Lynda Lukasik, Executive Director Environment Hamilton, says "It is fantastic to see such a large area of a closed landfill site being transformed into productive pollinator habitat. I'm hopeful Terrapure's initiative will inspire other private sector players to consider how they might do the same!”

Jen Baker, Land Trust Manager with the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club, said “Many Hamilton residents have been planting native wildflowers in their private yards, schools and places of worship. Terrapure’s Pollinator Paradise will be our largest habitat to date and extends Hamilton’s Pollinator Corridor into upper Stoney Creek.”
The new project can also serve as a pollinator corridor between Felker’s Conservation Area and the new East Mountain Conservation Area.

Check out the coverage @thespec.com 

Pier 15: Hamilton Port Authority

Port Authority: Pier 15
While Terrapure invites the neighbourhood, the local school and the broader public to join in planting habitat and help with maintaining the site, the Hamilton Port Authority is planting paradise within the seclusion of its gates. 

Last week, staff from the Pollinator Paradise Project assisted Port Authority staff in getting plants into the soil. 

"We had a great experience with the Pollinators Paradise Project, and appreciated the team’s expertise and guidance along the way," says Sharon Clark, Manager, Community Relations.

There are plans to expand the pollinator garden beyond the current site. 

"This garden is the first pollinator garden at the Port of Hamilton,' Sharon says. "We are now scoping out more spaces where the port lands can contribute to a pollinator corridor in Hamilton."

Sharon describes the planting as serving as an educational opportunity for their staff, as well as "a demonstration site to encourage some of our tenant partners to come on board."

With the desire to strengthen connection with community, the Port Authority opened its doors to the public twice in the past week for a tour of Pier 15 site. 

We understand that going forward, there will more opportunities made available for more tours open to the public. 
They're feeding pollinators!