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Masters projects

Sampling the abundance of butterflies at the University of Warwick to assess biodiversity and to provide advice on conservation (Robert Clark - supervisor Rosemary Collier).

Msc Environmental Bioscience in a Changing Climate (School of Life Sciences)

The aim of Rob’s project was to use established methods to survey land owned by the University of Warwick to assess the abundance of butterflies, to use this information as an indicator of habitat health and to provide the University with recommendations for the future management of these habitats. He recorded the abundance of butterfly species around the University of Warwick central and Wellesbourne campuses, investigated associations between the abundance of adult butterflies and the abundance of larval and adult host plants and provided recommendations to the University about how best to protect and improve the habitats and biodiversity around the campus.

Rob’s project has shown that there are a good number of butterflies on University of Warwick land indicating that there are biodiverse habitats. However, different areas vary greatly in the numbers of both individuals and species seen and no rare or endangered species were seen during the study. General recommendations were made about how the University can better manage its land in order to promote more species, with specific plans suggested for three endangered species that Butterfly Conservation is actively attempting to conserve. Not surprisingly, there appears to be a significant correlation between the number of individuals and species observed and the amount of host plant coverage at a site. Therefore, it was recommended that the University should aim to protect its current areas of high butterfly abundance and diversity while also attempting to improve other areas for butterflies, predominantly by increasing the coverage of both larval and adult host plants.

Chris Talbot (Habitat Biodiversity Audit Partnership), Mike Slater (Butterfly Conservation Warwickshire), Lois Browne (Warwickshire Biological Records Centre) and the University of Warwick Estates Team all provided Rob with information and advice.

What is the potential of enhancing biodiversity by using local provenance seed in urban churchyards? (Lydia Bosire - supervisor Rosemary Collier)

MSc Food Security (School of Life Sciences)

The Warwickshire Wildlife Trust is a key player in nature conservation in the region, and as part of the Local Biodiversity Action Plan for Churchyards & Cemeteries, has initiated strategies to enhance the range of habitats for wildlife and wildflowers and to use species- rich churchyards as a source of local provenance seed to restore less diverse churchyards. The aim of Lydia’s project was to investigate the use of local provenance green hay to enhance grassland biodiversity in urban churchyards in Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull. The specific objectives were to identify species-poor urban churchyards that could benefit from such a scheme and select from this group those which might be potential partners in promoting this conservation initiative. A further objective was to examine how it would be feasible to create awareness about the importance of biodiversity in the local context by using churchyards as platforms.

Lydia made a shortlist of 15 urban churchyards based on informal contacts, as well as online directories. This was whittled down to a final list of 5 participating churchyards in Coventry/Leamington Spa using criteria such as soil type, availability of a minimum area of a 10 m2 x 5 m2 within the churchyard to be sown with local provenance seed from green hay, the existing churchyard management regime, species present currently in the churchyard and willingness of the community to take part in the project. Green hay from the very biodiverse Oldberrow Churchyard was strewn in the marked area at these 5 sites in the late summer and the success of this initiative in seeding these areas will be assessed in a subsequent project by Richard Brown (Coventry University).

Lydia was advised and supported by Gina Rowe (Warwickshire Wildlife Trust) , Ruth Moffatt (Warwickshire Local Biodiversity Action Plan), Camille Newton (Local Wildlife Sites Project), Jane and David O’Dell (St. Mary’s, Oldberrow Church), Godfrey Armitage (Coventry Diocesan Environmental Group) and Richard Brown (Coventry University).




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