Spring Biodiversity Surveys



Spring is one of the best times conduct surveys and is a great excuse to get out and enjoy the new foliage!

Back in our December blog we discussed our plans for launching a new biodiversity surveying project for the Spring. Well, now that Spring’s upon us we have some reporting to do!

Our 5 Transition biodiversity interns have been working hard surveying multiple locations around the University grounds, trialing new Biodiversity Indexing methods for recording habitat diversity. Their reports have been coming in this week with some real gems of insight about the local wildlife that surrounds us right here in St Andrews!


A giant snail? Fungal growth?… Nope! This is a solitary wasp’s nest discovered by biodiversity intern Alec Christie.

How do the surveys work?

The Biodiversity Index is a relatively new surveying method developed in by the University of Northampton. Intended for non-specialists, the Biodiversity Index provides a simple and straightforward way to measure the diversity if urban and semi-urban areas.

By focusing on habitat structures, areas sizes and leaf counts, the survey establishes a benchmark indexing ‘score’ for target areas. “The score is a snapshot of the natural environment at a specific location (and a specific point in time) and can be used as a benchmark to monitor and manage biodiversity improvement” (biodiversityindex.org).

Most recommendations for improving biodiversity are common-sense solutions to boosting habitat diversity. For example, recommendations from our several of our surveys include:

  • provide bird and bat boxes to encourage roosting, hibernating and breeding
  • when replanting, use native species if possible
  • link hedgerows to create corridors for small mammals, birds and other animals to travel between
  • reducing or eliminate mowing schemes where possible

We’ve found a high level of diversity in areas not usually associated with wild beasts & critters – St Mary’s Quad for example contains a relatively high level of habitat diversity despite being located in the centre of town! Check out the report for yourself here.

Moorhen (image by RSPB)

Moorhens were recorded at the Andrew Melville pond site (image from rspb.org.uk)

One of the best places for observing local biodiversity is at the pond and grassy area to the West of Andrew Melville Hall. A hidden hotspot for wildlife, and especially water fowl, located at the end of town, our volunteers discovered a host of interesting species including the hard-to-miss moorhen with red colouring on its beak and forehead.

If you have a chance why not do some biodiversity investigation yourself? If you find any interesting species, or take some great photos we’d love to hear from you! Email us at environment@st-andrews.ac.uk to get in touch.

For further resources about biodiversity at the University of St Andrews please visit our biodiversity webpages.

Get Ready for the End of Term


Donate, sell, recycle…

For all those students out there with the May Dip just past and exams around the corner, it’s time to start preparing for the End of Term mayhem. It’s not always easy or feasible to bring all you belongings with you when you leave for the summer. That’s why we’ve come up with a handy guide to help you make the most of any items you wish to leave behind.

Please remember that you might be charged for items left behind in flats and halls of residence if they are not properly disposed of. It’s always best to reuse first, then resell, donate or, if beyond repair, recycle. Help us achieve Zero Waste by making sure nothing ends up in landfill that doesn’t have to!

End of Term (2)

If you’ve found this guide helpful please let us know by leaving a comment below.

Further links

StAndReuse http://transitionuniversityofstandrews.com/standre-use/

St Andrews Flea Market http://yourfleamarket.net/

Find your nearest recycling centre www.fifedirect.org.uk/wasteaware

University End of Term webpage http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/administration/recycling/recycling/howtorecycle/endofterm/