Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
AgriGenomics
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Unkempt Weedy Land Unintentionally Boosts Wildlife

Published: Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Last Updated: Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Parts of the farm landscape that look overgrown and ‘scruffy’ are more important than they first appear in supporting wildlife.

The findings stem from an intensive study of an organic farm in Somerset by a team of scientists focussing on the complex ways in which animals and plants interact. First, the team, made up by researchers at the universities of Hull and Bristol and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, created one of the world’s largest terrestrial food-webs – a what-eats-what guide to the food-chain, and then developed a method of predicting what would happen to the whole food-web when habitats were lost. They found that many types of insects and other animals have food sources in the apparently ‘scruffier’ parts of the farm such as field corners, the edges of farmyards and bits of ‘wasteland’ where old tractors and broken machinery slowly rust away.

The research, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), also allowed the team to identify when different animal species would be made extinct by the loss of particular habitats, and which plants are the most critical in sustaining animal life.

Dr Darren Evans from the University of Hull, the lead-author of the paper, said: “This research has shown us how the biodiversity of a particular area can be affected by changes to its habitat. We discovered that the small patches of unkempt and weedy areas on a farm are actually hugely beneficial in supporting local ecosystems. Indeed, they even benefit animals that could benefit farmers by providing pollination and natural pest control.”

Dr Michael Pocock, a team member at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, said: “We found that the important food plants for many animals are found in multiple habitats on the farm boosting farmland wildlife resilience. In other words, if a farmer removes mature hedgerows and the plants this habitat contains, most animals could (in theory) survive because the plants are found in other parts of the farm. Our new analytical approach allows us to test which habitats are disproportionately most important and ‘rough ground’ – like the unkempt field corners – are most important of all.”

Project leader Professor Jane Memmott from the University of Bristol said: “Essentially, in unkempt patches of the countryside there are a wide range of plants that many would regard as weeds, which are an important food source for many animals. There certainly seems to be a case for 'doing nothing' in these habitats. Farmers may even gain by having these scruffy areas because they support so many beneficial animals, such as bees.”


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,500+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 5,000+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.


Scientific News
Potential of New Insect Control Traits in Agriculture
Researchers have discovered a protein that shows promise as an alternate corn rootworm control mechanism.
Gene Could Reduce Female Mosquitoes
Virginia Tech researchers have found a gene that can reduce female mosquitoes over many generations.
Improving Crop Efficiency with CRISPR
New study of CRISPR-Cas9 technology from Virginia Tech shows potential to improve crop efficiency.
Fighting Plant Pathogens with RNA
Researchers develop strategy that could lead to environmentally friendly fungicide to fight pathogens.
Breakthrough in Plant Salt-Tolerance Research
Researchers have made a breakthrough in plant salt tolerance that could lead to new salt tollerant crop types.
Microbes Help Plants Survive In Severe Drought
Researchers discover plants survive better under drought conditions with help from natural microbes.
Mosquito Genetics Determine Tastes
Study reveals mosuito's preference for human versus animal biting is determined by genetics.
Mouse Genes Guiding Precision Medicine
Research of the mouse genome has identified hundreds of essential-to-life genes from the 1751 genes studied.
Environmental Impact of GM Crops
Following the adoption of GM crops, insecticide usage decreases but herbicide use increases, study shows.
Genes Essential to Life Discovered
Genes critical for life are discovered in humans and mice as part of large-scale phenotyping study.
SELECTBIO

SELECTBIO Market Reports
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,500+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
5,000+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!