Friday, January 14, 2011

Mapping the Backyard Biodiversity Project

The first step in documenting the biodiversity in our backyard ecosystem is dividing the landscape into Zones.

I have mapped the yards (front and back) into 18 Zones with an additional Garage Zone and House Zone.

These Zones are determined using physical separations (walls, fences, concrete walkways, gravel paths) and by clumping the natural microhabitats. For example, Zone 1 includes a planter against the house and a concrete walkway with stairs. This area is heavily used by people going in and out of the house. This activity has an effect on the plants and animals willing to live there. I have examined Zone 1 in detail before. Zone 1, 2007

Zone 2 has changed dramatically since I first documented the species living there in 2001, 2004 and 2007. This Zone is a raised planter in front of the house stretching from the sidewalk to the walkway and extending to the western corner of the house. It is landscaped and receives moderate sun in the summer. It was my observation of alien plants attracting alien pest species and creating a dead zone for native animal species that first inspired me to remove the African daisies in this planter and replace them with native plants. It will be interesting to see how the biodiversity in this area compares with ten years ago. Zone 2, 2007

Zone 17 is the lower end of the driveway at the side of the house and a small planter that typically only receives rain water. But this area has offered surprises in the past. Zone 17, 2007

Creating Zones provides manageable areas of observation and also allows comparison between areas that are similar or dissimilar in terrain, physical attributes and water availability. Off to a good start.

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