Til bevillingsoversigt

Project BUG - Biodiversity along Urban Gradients

Internationalisation Fellowships


Global change, including urbanisation and climate change is the biggest threat to biodiversity and human alienation from nature is becoming increasingly common. Despite the close proximity, we know very little about the ecology of non-human city dwellers. In and on the soil under our feet, as much as ¼ of living diversity on Earth may be found, including invertebrates such as ants, beetles and spiders. They have adapted to a multitude of microhabitats and microclimates and deliver important ecosystem services, such as decomposition and nutrient cycling. I aim to investigate how ground-foraging and soil-dwelling invertebrates are affected by global change and whether participating in scientific projects affects children's nature relatedness and interest in science.


Forecasts of future development predict that by 2030 urban land cover could almost triple compared to 2000 and human activities are likely to increase global temperatures by 1.5 °C by 2030-2052 compared to pre-industrial levels. These changes may result in the alteration of species communities as some species adapt and thrive, others move to environments that are more suitable, new species arrive and some species go extinct. However, predicting which species will react in which way and mitigating the effects of global change are challenging tasks. Cities may hold the key. Because of the urban heat-island effect, cities are often warmer than their surroundings, providing a unique opportunity to use cities as space-for-time experiments on the effects of future global change.


The research will be carried out as a citizen science project, where families and schools conduct the experiments. Participants will set up pit fall traps, conduct baiting experiments, measure decomposition rates and collect environmental data using microclimate loggers. Invertebrate communities will be characterised based on diversity, abundance and biomass and the effects of factors such as temperature, soil moisture, urbanisation, plant cover and species interactions will be investigated. To determine the effects of participating in scientific projects, participants and a non-participating control group will answer surveys about their relation to nature and science interests before and after participating.


As urbanization increases, it is important to create socially and ecologically sustainable cities. In some cities, domestic gardens account for 25 % of land area. These gardens are often the most substantial pieces of land that the public control and engage with directly. Through soil management and planting, people can manipulate local microclimate and the species they attract. Interaction with gardens may be of great importance for fostering interest and support for biodiversity, in a time when alienation from nature is becoming increasingly common. This project will help raise awareness of the effects of urbanisation and climate change on biodiversity and enable people to make informed decisions on how to manage gardens for native biodiversity. The project directly addresses several of the sustainable development goals, especially the protection and promotion of sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems and the halt of biodiversity loss (goal 15), and awareness raising and education on climate change mitigation and adaptation (goal 13). However, the project also contributes to goal 3, ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for people of all ages and goal 4, ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all.