Some questions will need very sophisticated experimental analysis. A good example is the Plants for Bugs project run by the Royal Horticultural Society with support from the Forum.
Some other questions could be answered in part by garden surveys conducted by keen individual gardeners. This would be particularly useful for long term monitoring studies to find out if and how our wildlife is responding to climate change and other pressures. There are a number of excellent garden surveys already running, and we would be very pleased if more gardeners contributed to them.
The Forum has complied a wish-list of 51 important questions about gardens and wildlife
, with the help of all the Forum Trustee board, and Catherine Burton, Mark Goddard, Vicky Kindemba, Jeff Ollerton and Mike Toms. Some would require sophisticated research studies, many others could be approached through well organised citizen science and observation projects.
Please get in touch if you would like to explore some of these questions yourself. If you are a wealthy philanthropist keen to sponsor useful research PLEASE get in touch immediately!
This means keeping a record of survey observations about the physical environment, habitats and plant and animal populations. A set of butterfly observations in one garden in one month is just a list. Repeat it through the year and you learn how species and numbers change with seasons. Extend it across the UK, and you learn about their geographical distribution.
When you repeat the surveys from year to year, they become really valuable, because they give us hard data on how habitats, and populations of animals and plants are changing. Monitoring has revealed the accelerating decline of many species through 20th century habitat loss and other factors, and is now essential to track evidence of climate change impacts. This evidence is vital if we want to protect our biodiversity and help it adapt.
The UK has a long history of climate record
s, and of long term professional scientific studies
. More recently, Citizen Science monitoring has become sophisticated and has generated some extremely important science. As just one example, Nature’s Calendar
run by the Woodland Trust and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology has extended much earlier surveys through a network of many thousand amateur observers. Many important scientific papers have come from its database, and one from 2010
showed how over the last 25 years, flowers bloomed up to 12 days earlier than in any earlier 25 year period since 1760. For every 1ºC increase in average temperatures from February to April, flowers opened an average of 5 days earlier.
A number of survey programmes invite your participation, and you can see them on the “Garden Surveys
” page. You will find a lot more useful information on the pages reached from “Finding out more
Page written by Steve Head