Counting bugs on the California Academy of Sciences' living roof
29, 2010 -- The
California Academy of Sciences' living rooftop is teeming with insects.
Since it opened in 2008, biology graduate student Jessica Van Den Berg
has sampled the wildlife in this unusual habitat, counting tiny pygmy
grasshoppers, honeybees and spiders. One find surprised her: an iridescent
ground beetle never before seen in San Francisco.
"The living roof is like an island within Golden Gate Park," Van Den Berg said. "I'm interested in what insects are attracted to this space, what survives there and what doesn't." Some creatures are colonizers that have flown onto the roof's sloping knolls, while others are stowaways that were hidden among the plants and soil installed on the roof in 2008.
As part of her master's thesis, Van Den Berg will compare her finds from rooftop traps to the insect life found on the ground in the surrounding Golden Gate Park. She also hopes to investigate what attracts insects to the roof, specifically whether creatures are attracted to the shape of the plants or the fact that the roof contains only California native plant species.
Van Den Berg's study is featured in a video exhibit in the east wing of the Academy's public floor. Titled "Native plants, native insects?" the video is on display through April 1. More information about the California Academy of Sciences can be found at: http://www.calacademy.org/
The video can be viewed at: http://www.vimeo.com/8182204
-- Elaine Bible
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