You have probably heard of “green roofs” by now and they are just one of the many ways we can better design our dwellings to help biodiversity. Green roofs are popping up all over the world: San Francisco, Chicago, London, Switzerland, New York, Germany, Japan, Vancouver, and even my home state of Michigan! It turns out that those green tops can not only catch water runoff and cool down cities, they can also provide habitat for rare insects!
My ol’ Master’s advisor, Dr. John Hafernik (recently in the news for discovering a honey bee parasite), is not only a professor at San Francisco State University but also works for the California Academy of Sciences. He was there when they moved to Golden Gate Park and when they created the beautiful green roof. It was all happening just as I was leaving for Santa Cruz, but he got his new grad student, Jessica Vandenberg, to do her thesis on the insects of the Cal Academy’s green roof.
Jessica compared insects she captured on the roof to those she captured on the surrounding ground-level areas. She found (final results forthcoming) that while there are higher numbers of insects on the ground, there are many more types of insects, including rare species, on the roof than on the ground. That means the roof is more biodiverse! Pretty cool.
Why do you think this is? Well, so far they are attributing it to the fact that there are more native plants on the roof than on the ground! That’s right, the Cal Academy took the time to plant only native plants on the roof and so far those native plants are attracting many kinds of insects. Check out the video and hear Jessica tell you herself:
MORE TO COME ON THE BENEFIT OF GREEN ROOFS FOR INSECTS (and others)!!