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National Biodiversity Week at ATU Highlights Importance of Urban Habitats

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ATUNational Biodiversity Week at ATU Highlights Importance of Urban Habitats

Staff and students’ BioBlitz records 128 wildlife species on city campus

Staff and students at Atlantic Technological University (ATU) Galway are sharing their campus with a huge array of wildlife species. An inaugural BioBlitz took place on the Old Dublin Road campus during National Biodiversity Week (May) organised by the Green Campus committee, Environmental Society students, the Marine and Freshwater Research Centre and Friends of Merlin Woods. A total of 128 species were recorded during the one-hour event by staff and students from a wide range of disciplines and local community group Friends of Merlin Woods.


The species list included 74 species of herbs and grasses, 28 species of trees and shrubs, 16 species of birds and ten insect species. Of note were four species of bumblebee including white-tailed, red-tailed, common carder and buff-tailed bumblebees, and several songbirds, including blackcap, robin, goldfinch and wren. These records highlight the biodiversity found within our city lending support to the Galway National Park City initiative.


“A BioBlitz as part of National Biodiversity Week was the ideal starting point to collect baseline data as we work towards supporting biodiversity on campus. These baseline data contribute to recent work at ATU Galway City where we have adopted a “Vision for Biodiversity” and subscribed as supporters of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan,” explains Dr Katie O’Dwyer, lecturer in Applied Freshwater and Marine Biology, ATU Galway City, and student engagement officer of the local Green Campus Committee.


Andrea Parisi and Alessio Volpato, postgraduate students in the Marine and Freshwater Research Centre, said: “We enjoyed sharing our research and highlighting some equipment we use to measure and monitor biodiversity such as a parabolic microphone for acoustic monitoring and scorecards for habitat assessment. The people who joined were very interested and keen to know more about our results. Definitely a successful event that helped connect with the public, students and staff at ATU.”


Dr Heather Lally, Applied Freshwater and Marine Biology lecturer, ATU Galway City, added: “The species recorded show the value of our Galway City campus as a refuge for urban biodiversity. Almost 60% of tree species recorded on campus during the event were native and the recording of more unique taxa such as the bee orchid shows how important our campus biodiversity is for local biodiversity.”


Dr Mark Kelly, Head of ATU Galway-Mayo Centre for Sustainability, praised the efforts of the biodiversity group: “The inaugural BioBlitz demonstrates the fantastic grassroots efforts that are going on across the ATU. The university will continue to demonstrate a commitment to biodiversity conservation across all campuses. I would especially like to thank staff, students and volunteers who showed such great commitment over the past year.”


For information on the ATU Centre for Sustainability and event, see:

here ...  and here ...


For details on ATU School of Science and Applied Freshwater and Marine Biology programmes, see: here ...  and here ...


For information about the work of Friends of Merlin Woods, see: here ...


To find out more about the Galway National Park City initiative, see: here ...

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