Biodiversity in urban habitat patches

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To analyse the extent to which our flora and fauna utilise the ‘urban greenways’, both as wildlife corridors and as habitats, and to model and predict biodiversity in cities. The specific objectives are to:

  • investigate the potential for using an existing database of species distribution and habitat characteristics for modelling the dynamics of wildlife in conurbations
  • characterise the biota of the urban environment and develop indices which can be used to predict flora and fauna patterns in the urban environment
  • analyse the richness of species, the distribution of genetic diversity, and abundance of selected species in connected and isolated habitats in order to quantify patch area and distance effects
  • analyse the importance of barriers and corridors in shaping dispersal processes in the urban environment
  • model the distribution of species in the urban landscape and develop spatially-explicit population and individual-based models for investigating the response and persistence of urban wildlife to changes in urban landscapes
  • validate these models using field-based studies of organism dispersal and historical distribution data
  • evaluate the efficacy of associative and process-based models for use in an urban biodiversity Decision Support System (DSS)
  • integrate models and databases within a DSS allowing planing consultants to investigate the effects of a range of different scenarios on urban biodiversity.


West Midlands


The research has been divided into three components:

  • to determine a) the abundance of plant and animal species within the conurbation, and b) the impact of green spaces and connecting corridors on plant and animal (invertebrate) species
  • modelling of the long-term response of plant and animal species to planned changes in the urban landscape of Birmingham
  • construction of a Geographical Information System (GIS) to display the information and a DSS for easy interpretation by users.

The consortium intends to tackle the GIS/DSS at an early stage to identify species, spatial scales and timeframes of major interest to users as indicators of the impacts of urban structure changes.

Start Date/Duration

April 1998 Three years

Lead Organisations

University of Birmingham

Centre for Ecology and Hydrology

Centre for Land Use and Water Resources Research, University of Newcastle upon Tyne


  • a handbook of recommendations on urban planning
  • a GIS database of Birmingham
  • a computerised DSS
  • a mappable index of hemeroby, ie degree of unnaturalness, for the flora of British urban habitats
  • models of species dispersal, developed as generic but realised for Birmingham
  • a species database for the development and enhancement of species conservation strategies within the conurbation.


Unit of Comparative Plant Ecology, Sheffield

Birmingham Urban Wildlife Trust

West Midlands Local Authorities

Further Details

Further information is available from the following contacts:

Lead Researcher: Dr P G Angold

Tel: 0121 414 5540/7147, Fax: 0121 414 5528/5925, e-mail:

URGENT Programme Manager: Graham Leeks

Tel: 01491 692203, Fax: 01491 692313, e-mail: