Libellenpanorama (© stock.adobe.com/C. Schüßler)

SLInBio – Urban lifestyles and the valuation of biodiversity: Dragonflies, grasshopper, bumble bees & co.

SLInBio is a joint research project on how to increase the valuation of biodiversity. Taking Frankfurt am Main as an example the project focuses on insect diversity and how particularly cities can contribute to biodiversity conservation. To this end, social-ecological relationships between the lifestyles and everyday practices of city dwellers and urban insect diversity are analyzed.

Research approach

The joint project applies citizen science methods of participatory and activating research: it enables scientists and citizen scientists to collaborate. The results are communicated and discussed at different levels via various media and methods. In doing so, the (urban) community in Frankfurt am Main will be enabled to experience biodiversity via collaborative learning activities. 

The goals of the joint research project is first to get a better understanding of the relation between urban lifestyles and biodiversity, based on the example of insect biodiversity. And second, to achieve a better valuation of biodiversity within the (urban) society, particularly with regard to insects. Here, it is important to identify courses of action and leverage factors which can then be tested in real-life laboratories.

The one-year preliminary phase serves to prepare a three-year main phase. The aim is to identify stakeholders relevant to the topic of biodiversity and insects in Frankfurt. For this reason, a round-table discussion will take place involving these stakeholders in the problem-structuring process. This step will be accompanied by discussions with experts and by literature analysis with the aim to be able to determine fields of action crucial to the research project. These fields include construction and housing, mobility, food, work and recreation. Indicators will be identified that help to evaluate the present valuation of insect diversity. In addition to that, existing data on biodiversity in Frankfurt am Main will be collected. This will be the basis for the later development of an insect monitoring system.

In an exploratory study on dealing with insects in Frankfurt, interviews and site inspections are used to investigate the motivations of citizens to furnish and look after insect hotels. Using the example of insect hotels, an initial monitoring of urban insects will also take place. The results will then be presented in a promotionally effective way to the public and discussed in the context of the Palmengarten's flower and butterfly house, which opens in 2021.

Background

Although urbanisation, amongst other factors, promotes the loss of biodiversity worldwide, cities are increasingly becoming retreats for insects, as here they are barely affected by agricultural pesticides and fertilisers. Accordingly, towns and cities can be indeed suitable habitats for biodiversity and can be seen as “novel ecosystems” and even social-ecological systems. This represents a new and innovative approach, especially given the current insect decline in conservation areas. However, insects are also under threat in towns and cities, for instance when it comes to transport and the expansion of infrastructure that goes with it, nocturnal lighting, soil sealing, and the use of pesticides in green spaces or in gardens.

Moreover, the perception and valuation of insects among the urban population are ambivalent: depending on the species of insect, the sites where they occur, and the respective attitudes and usage practices of the residents, they are either welcomed or considered a nuisance – with corresponding consequences for the way they are handled. Against this background, the pre-phase of the project takes the insect hotels in Frankfurt as an example to examine the motives behind the valuation of insects. 

Partners

  • Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main
  • Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung (SGN), Frankfurt am Main
  • Senckenberg Museum, Frankfurt am Main
  • Palmengarten, Frankfurt am Main

Partners in practice

  • NABU Frankfurt am Main
  • Department of the Environment, Frankfurt am Main 
  • Green Space Office, Frankfurt am Main 
  • BioFrankfurt – Das Netzwerk für Biodiversität e.V.
  • Fraport AG Frankfurt Airport Services Worldwide

Funding

The project “SLInBio – Urban lifestyles and the appreciation of biodiversity: Dragonflies, grasshopper, bumble bees & Co” is funded by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) in the funding measure “BiodiWert – Valuation and safeguarding of biodiversity in policy making, the economy and society” as part of the research initiative FEdA.

Publications

Schneider, Florian D./Anna Brietzke/Marion Mehring (2021): Winzige Nachbarn unter der Lupe. Das Insektenhotel im eigenen Garten als Beitrag zu Biodiversität und Umweltbildung. Frankfurt am Main: ISOE - Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung

Duration

2020/10 – 2021/09