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!









Pollination with a purpose. Lindsay Street Park

Lindsay Street Park has had quite a transformation. This is the first park in English Avenue, a historic Atlanta neighborhood which is currently undergoing a large number of innovative community projects to revitalize the area. The renovation of the park was led by the Conservation Fund, with help from partners Trees Atlanta, Park Pride,  Atlanta Botanical Gardens, members of the English Avenue Community, and many other organizations and volunteers.

However this park is so much more than a pollinator garden, it’s a park with a purpose. Lindsay Street Park functions as an important place for the local community to gather and appreciate nature, in a neighborhood that is devoid of friendly green space. The park also serves to combat storm water runoff, and mitigate water pollution, issues that have been prevalent in the aging neighborhood.

Community members and project collaborators have been quick to comment on the importance of the Lindsay Street Park restoration, and the clear benefits it provides  to the English Avenue neighborhood. Greening Youth Foundation’s Whitney Jaye remarks that “we need green space and community input , to improve mental, physical and emotional health”.  Tony Torrence founder and CEO of the Atlanta Community Improvement Association  has also commented on the history of the neighborhood, the importance of the parks restoration, and its link to the local peoples culture and identity. Torrence remarks, “People used to be baptized in this creek, and now it is polluted”.

The park  aims to mitigate the amount of storm water runoff that reaches the Proctor Creek Watershed through rain garden plantings, implementation of a bioswale, and decreasing the amount of impervious surfaces present in the community.

The Lindsay Street Park success story hinges on the commitment of dedicated partners, and participation by the local community members, to build a truly exceptional green space that will benefit both pollinators and humans!



Photo L: Tony Torrence displaying a piece of history; a brick found on site made at the Chattahoochee Brick Company which often used forced convict labour to produce over 200,000 bricks a day. Images courtesy of Whitney Flanagan, Dr. Jennifer Cruse Sanders

Photo R: Dr. Jennifer Cruse Sanders from the Atlanta Botanical Garden and Greening Youth Foundation interns and employees Whitney Jaye, Alagia Felix, Micheal Hendrix, Cristha  Edwards, Idalis Boyd, and Jataysia Daniels plant milkweed in Lindsay Street Park’s pollinator garden. Images courtesy of Whitney Flanagan, Dr. Jennifer Cruse Sanders


Co-blogged by GAPP + Jataysia Daniels, Greening Youth Foundation & Atlanta Botanical Garden Conservation Intern!




Is your Milkweed native?

The Atlanta Botanical Garden hosts Science Cafe, a series of informal science based talks that encourage the public to engage with speakers on important topics. This years series focuses on pollinators and their conservation, and highlights several important pollinator related projects and the researchers behind them.

Today we are highlighting Dr Jaret Daniels  an Associate Professor of Entomology at the University of Florida  who spoke at the Gardens on Monarch butterfly conservation. Monarch butterflies are some of the most iconic species of butterfly in North America, primarily because of their enigmatic coloring and their fascinating migratory patterns. However due to declining habitat, numbers of Monarchs have been decreasing.

In his presentation, along with outlining  overall habitat decline, Daniels pointed out one of the other threats to Monarch butterflies is non-native milkweed. Daniel informed the audience that planting tropical milkweed could cause populations of Monarchs to persist longer into the cooler months, causing them to freeze in a cold Atlanta winter, rather than migrating south for overwintering in warmer climates.

Instead native milkweed species such as Asclepias tuberosa and Asclepias incarnata are excellent caterpillar host plants, and nectar plants for adult butterflies. These types of milkweed provide forage and nesting for Monarchs, and are encouraged in plantings of pollinator gardens.

Additionally Daniels encourages gardeners to vet local milkweed sources, and be sure your native milkweed is pesticide free. This is because some systemic pesticides can remain in the plant, and be transferred to Monarch caterpillars and adults.


Monarchs overwinter at El Rosario Monarch Sanctuary. Flickr: Heather Spaulding


Daniels talk fostered a clearer understanding of the biology and conservation issues related to one of North America’s most famous pollinators. For more information on Dr. Jaret Daniels research and scientific lepidopterian interests you can visit his academic page here.



Co-blogged by GAPP + Jataysia Daniels, Greening Youth Foundation & Atlanta Botanical Garden Conservation Intern!

Why pollinator gardens are vital to urban landscapes.

Watch Sarah Bergmann creator of Pollinator Pathways, talk about designing “biodiversity back in” by creating linked pollinator habitats that form urban green space corridors.

Beginning with a single pollinator pathway project in Seattle, Bergmann has taken the model and created a visionary plan to involve strengthening and reconnecting fragmented green spaces in urban landscapes across the nation.

You can learn more about the original pollinator habitat project in Seattle, and also about her plans to adapt this model in other urban areas across the globe in the Ted Talk below.

Wanna hear more about this? Visit her website here: