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!


Monitoring

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 records, 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”.


Getting better knowledge of the diversity of animals and plants in typical gardens

Jenny Owen identified over 2,600 species in her own modest garden, but estimated that there could be over  8,000 obscure and poorly studied species of insects alone. There is a great opportunity here for keen naturalists fond of less popular creepy crawlies to make an impact

Better understanding of the ecology of gardens and how they relate to their surroundings

We really don’t know much about how garden creatures interact.

Building a picture of how garden wildlife is changing through time

This needs monitoring – see below

Understanding the wildlife impacts of garden management options

Is it better or worse for wildlife to dig beds annually? How much impact does using insecticides cautiously and according to instructions actually have? These sorts of questions are very important but need well-planned and expensive studies to provide answers.

Better understanding how individual gardens add together to create larger habitats

There has been some progress with birds and hedgehogs, but we need to know more about the spatial needs of other groups.

Better understanding of garden roles in human health, wellbeing and social cohesion.
This is a huge subject, and one where the literature is often not very scientific.  It’s likely that getting government backing for gardens will rely largely on their potential in saving the National Health Service money!


Research needs and monitoring

One of the fundamental reasons for creating the Wildlife Gardening Forum was to provide an evidence based resource for gardeners – so that what we say and recommend on this website must be backed up by science and proper evaluation.

Research

There are still many gaps in our scientific and practical knowledge about gardens and their wildlife. The Wildlife Gardening Forum has very limited resources to run scientific research except in partnership with others, but we are working to define where research is needed.  This covers topics such as:



Getting better knowledge of the diversity of animals and plants in typical gardens

Jenny Owen identified over 2,600 species in her own modest garden, but estimated that there could be over  8,000 obscure and poorly studied species of insects alone. There is a great opportunity here for keen naturalists fond of less popular creepy crawlies to make an impact

Better understanding of the ecology of gardens and how they relate to their surroundings

We really don’t know much about how garden creatures interact.

Building a picture of how garden wildlife is changing through time

This needs monitoring – see below

Understanding the wildlife impacts of garden management options

Is it better or worse for wildlife to dig beds annually? How much impact does using insecticides cautiously and according to instructions actually have? These sorts of questions are very important but need well-planned and expensive studies to provide answers.

Better understanding how individual gardens add together to create larger habitats

There has been some progress with birds and hedgehogs, but we need to know more about the spatial needs of other groups.

Better understanding of garden roles in human health, wellbeing and social cohesion.
This is a huge subject, and one where the literature is often not very scientific.  It’s likely that getting government backing for gardens will rely largely on their potential in saving the National Health Service money!
Research needs and monitoring

One of the fundamental reasons for creating the Wildlife Gardening Forum was to provide an evidence based resource for gardeners – so that what we say and recommend on this website must be backed up by science and proper evaluation.

Research

There are still many gaps in our scientific and practical knowledge about gardens and their wildlife. The Wildlife Gardening Forum has very limited resources to run scientific research except in partnership with others, but we are working to define where research is needed.  This covers topics such as:





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!

Monitoring

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 records, 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”.


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