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
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 2,400+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 3,700+ 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
How a Kernel Got Naked and Corn Became King
Ten thousand years ago, a golden grain got naked, brought people together and grew to become one of the top agricultural commodities on the planet.
TOPLESS Plants Provide Clues to Human Molecular Interactions
Scientists at Van Andel Research Institute have revealed an important molecular mechanism in plants that has significant similarities to certain signaling mechanisms in humans, which are closely linked to early embryonic development and to diseases such as cancer.
New Technique for Mining Health-conferring Soy Compounds
A new procedure devised by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists to extract lunasin from soybean seeds could expedite further studies of this peptide for its cancer-fighting potential and other health benefits.
Rice Disease-Resistance Discovery Closes the Loop for Scientific Integrity
Researchers reveal how disease resistant rice detects and responds to bacterial infections.
Pesticide Found in 70 Percent of Massachusetts’ Honey Samples
New Harvard University study says that the pesticide commonly found in honey samples is implicated in Colony Collapse Disorder.
Oxitec ‘Self-Limiting Gene’ Offers Hope for Controlling Invasive Moth
A new pesticide-free and environmentally-friendly way to control insect pests has moved ahead with the publication of results showing that Oxitec diamondback moths (DBM) with a ‘self-limiting gene’ can dramatically reduce populations of DBM.
More Rice, Less Greenhouse Gas?
An international group from China, Sweden and the U.S. has unveiled a genetically modified super rice that has more starch, yet releases a fraction of the harmful gas methane.
Kiwi Bird Genome Sequenced
The kiwi, national symbol of New Zealand, gives insights into the evolution of nocturnal animals.
Yeast Cells Use Signaling Pathway to Modify Their Genomes
Researchers at the Babraham Institute and Cambridge Systems Biology Centre, University of Cambridge have shown that yeast can modify their genomes to take advantage of an excess of calories in the environment and attain optimal growth.
Faster, Better, Cheaper: a New Method to Generate Extended Data for Genome Assemblies
The Genome Analysis Centre have developed a new library construction method for genome sequencing that can simultaneously construct up to 12 size-selected long mate pair (LMP) or ‘jump’ libraries ranging in sizes from 1.7kb to 18kb with reduced DNA input, time and cost.
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
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
2,400+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,700+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FREE!