Understanding the roles of pollinators and herbivores in sustainable urban agroecosystems

Within cities, growing crops in allotments has become increasingly popular. Urban agriculture now offers opportunities to increase food security and increase the ecological integrity of cities. Allotments can contain the highest diversity of flowers and plants in urban areas and they represent a substantial area of urban green spaces, in the U.K. it was shown that 330,000 allotment plots cover an area of 135km2. However very little is known about the role that allotments play in supporting insect populations and acting as biodiversity refuges.

It now common knowledge that pollinators and herbivores play an important role in conventional food production, however there is little known about the details of the insect communities and their interactions in urban agriculture.

As interest in urban agriculture is increasing in the UK it is clear that this is a vital time to assess pollinator diversity and pollen-networks as many of the crops being planted will benefit from pollination by insects. Also, allotments exist across a large urban gradient and represent an opportunity to investigate how these insect communities and interactions are influenced by landscape-level effects such as greenspace connectivity and habitat corridors.

The overarching aim of this study is to increase our ability to predictively mange urban agriculture systems both for increasing pollinator diversity and for increasing harvest outputs.

Emilie Ellis

Supervisor

Dr Jill Edmonson, Department of Animal and Plant Sciences

EPSRC Early Career 'Living with Environmental Change Challenge' Fellow

Co-Supervisors

Dr Stuart Campbell

Independent Research Fellow P3 Centre, Department of Animal and Plant Sciences

Professor James Hitchmough

Professor, Department of Landscape Architecture