Measuring pollinator diversity at urban parks.

Pollinator gardens are an important addition to urban landscapes as they provide a green-way corridor that connects pollinators to their habitats. Two of Atlanta’s newest urban parks; Lindsay Street Park and Vine City Park have  recently had pollinator gardens designed and installed by the Atlanta Botanical Garden. These parks not only give a place for pollinators to rest and feed, they also provide the surrounding Atlanta neighborhoods with important community green space.

Monitoring pollinator abundance and biodiversity in new pollinator gardens is a critical step in understanding how often pollinators are visiting, and what kinds of pollinators are using the garden. This kind of monitoring can drive garden management, and also direct future pollinator garden installation.

As an initiative of the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Conservation department, pollinator monitoring was conducted at both Lindsay Street and Vine City Parks this summer to estimate abundance and biodiversity. The monitoring was done by a team of high school students from The Paideia School, Forsyth Central High School, Villa Rica High School,  and Mays High School. The student team of 12 was led by Garden’s staff, school teachers, and Spelman University student volunteers from the Greening Youth Foundation. The project  was funded by  the Captain Planet Foundation’s eco technology grant, which awards funds for inquiry based projects in STEM fields that address environmental problems.

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Students visually count and sweep-net for target species in the bioswale at Lindsay Street Park. Photo Credit: Karan Wood, Captain Planet Foundation.

 

Students coupled traditional pollinator visitation methods, with novel molecular biology techniques to identify, record and count the pollinators present at both parks. This pollinator record will drive management at this and other parks, particularly with respect to differences in pollinator abundance found between areas planted with native pollinator friendly plants and those planted with conventional landscape plants. Additionally the data will be used to show the importance of pollinator gardens in urban areas.

The more we understand the way pollinators interact with their habitats the better we become at providing efficient usable pollinator gardens. Take a look around your pollinator garden when its in full swing and note the species visiting, you might just learn a thing or two!