Biodiversity audit of Trinity’s campus and properties will quantify species and habitat diversity

Posted on: 22 May 2021

Scientists have today begun a comprehensive “biodiversity audit” of Trinity. This exciting project will quantify the habitat and species diversity across the 47-acre College Green campus, along with Trinity’s satellite properties.

Trinity’s green campus is well recognised as a peaceful oasis within the bustling city of Dublin. Its natural spaces not only mitigate against the negative effects of the built environment (providing well documented mental and physical health benefits for humans), but also serve as homes to a whole host of organisms.

Sam the Fox has generated plenty of interest in recent weeks, while nesting swifts, large numbers of pollinating insects, frogs and newts, and hundreds of fungi and plants are among the species expected to show up. As with any biodiversity audit, however, there are sure to be some surprises as the monitoring gathers pace.

Two of Sam's cubs on Trinity's campus.
Two of Sam’s cubs on Trinity’s campus.

The audit is being led by a collaborative group from Trinity’s School of Natural Sciences, including biodiversity expert, Professor Jane Stout; Dr Carla Harper (fungi); Dr John Rochford and Dr Aoibheann Gaughran (mammals); Dr Nicola Marples, Aidan Kelly and Cian White (birds); Collie Ennis (amphibians); Dr Martyn Linnie (insects); and Dr Steve Waldron, Profesor Trevor Hodkinson and Dr Ursula King (plants). Detailed GIS habitat mapping will be carried out by Mr Tony Williams.

Professor Jane Stout said:

“Increased intensification of land use, both in the countryside and in cities, and consequent habitat loss, are recognised as primary drivers of biodiversity loss. However, urban green spaces can host a surprising variety of life. Given its unique location in the heart of Dublin – along with the expertise of its staff – Trinity has a role to play in documenting and protecting urban biodiversity.

“Importantly, this project will also provide a baseline for tracking future changes.”

Rosmarinus officinalis in Trinity's Botany Garden.
Rosmarinus officinalis in Trinity’s Botany Garden.


The project brings together researchers in the School of Natural Sciences, staff from Estates and Facilities, Trinity’s Sustainability intern and individuals from the Green Campus Biodiversity subcommittee, chaired by Hazel Herbst, who added:

“Not only will this audit help educate and fuel interest in the importance of maintaining biodiversity in the race against climate change, but it will also be a super collaborative project bringing various people from different walks of life together for a common cause.”

This project has an interdisciplinary approach and will incorporate data on green space management provided by Mr David Hackett (Estates and Facilities).

An interactive web page illustrating the various habitats on Trinity properties, along with a baseline inventory of species for each of these habitats will be developed.

Additionally, the collation of these data into a central repository will immensely facilitate future research (at both undergraduate and postgraduate level) into measures to enhance urban biodiversity, evaluate nature-based solutions and quantify ecosystem services provided by the diversity of life on campus.

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