Our expectations of finding 200 species in our house and yard were completely mistaken.

Our expectations of finding 200 species in our house and yard were completely mistaken.

During the COVID-19 lockdown, three biodiversity researchers – an ecologist, a mathematician, and a taxonomist – decided to count the number of plant and animal species in their shared space. Initially, they estimated finding around 200-300 species, a guess shared by many colleagues. However, they were surprised to discover a total of 1,150 species on their 400 square meter property in Annerley, a suburb of Brisbane, Australia. Among these species were familiar ones like ibises, brush turkeys, kookaburras, possums, and flying foxes, as well as some rarely documented species including a rare mosquito, a sandfly, and an invasive flatworm. The researchers also observed a variety of pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and hoverflies, as well as numerous spider species. While the majority of the plant species were non-native weeds, the researchers found that native species thrived around their two lilly-pilly trees. They also recorded 436 species of butterflies and moths, some of which exhibited interesting behaviors such as living in possum poop or spiderwebs. The researchers were surprised to find fewer beetle species than expected, which may indicate declining populations. Overall, their study demonstrated that even urban environments can support diverse wildlife populations, with vegetation playing a crucial role in providing habitat. The researchers encourage others to appreciate and observe urban wildlife in their own homes.

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