Survey: Flora and Fauna

Botanic Group

  1. Botanical collection of the urban parks of Porto city

The complete list of all vascular plant taxa present in the garden will be recorded. The comparative flora of the vascular plant species reported in the urban parks will be prepared including designation of the species as native or non-native. Identifications made only at the family or genus level will be excluded. Native species will be considered according to reference floras; otherwise species were designated as non-native. The floristic dataset will focus in the exotic garden flora but with will include all taxa of spontaneous occurrence in the parks.

Nomenclature of the plant collections will follow Walters et al. (1984-2000).

The total flora recorded will be classified according to life forms and life strategies. The life forms will follow the Raunkiaer modified classification (Bunce et al, 2008) and Grime’s scheme of life strategies will be used to classify plant vascular taxa (Grime, 1979).

  1. Accessing small-scale plant diversity in urban parks

Select plots will be randomly spread throughout the scale plan of each park in all forms of land use. The plots will consist in 2m2 quadrats. Only herbs and dwarf shrubs actually rooted in the quadrats will be included, but the trees and large shrubs overhanging the quadrats will be recorded. The taxa recorded will be classified according to life forms according to Bunce et al, 2008 and life strategies according to Grime, 1979.

Floristic similarity between plots will be quantified using the appropriated similarity measures. Hierarchical cluster analysis will be used to cluster the spontaneous taxa present in the parks. The floristic matrix will be converted into a matrix of ecological indicators (life forms and life strategies). Both the original floristic matrix and the indicators matrix will be subjected to multivariate analysis.

Zoologists Group

The aim is to get an inventory of the animal diversity present at each study area in order to get its correlation with different urban landscape features. In order to achieve this goal we will sample a set of biological groups considered transversal in the ecosystem and representative of the faunal biodiversity: invertebrates; amphibians; reptiles; birds and mammals. The inventory methodologies are specific to each group. The sampling of the invertebrate community will be address recurring to pit-fall traps and sticky-traps (Drake et al., 2007). After a 10 day sampling period, the content of the traps is transferred for a 70% ethanol solution and taken to the lab for identification of the invertebrate species. Amphibians and reptiles are sampled together as the methodology applied to these faunal groups is similar and complementary. The sampling methods are simple, easy to apply and consist on searching on every available microhabitat within each patch according to Heyer et al., 1994. The birds’ survey will be obtained using the Point Transect method (Colin et al., 2000). Finally, mammal sampling will be divided in three different methodologies: 1) Live traps for small-mammals (Wilson et al., 1996), 2) prospecting signs for carnivore and lagomorphs presence, and 3) assessing bat occupancy with echolocation detectors. Each animal presence detected will be associated to a GPS point in order to be readily integrated in a Geographical Information System and enable the spatial analysis of the data. The field work should be held during two consequent years in order to avoid natural annual variations of the populations and cover the presence of most species. The specificity of the sampling techniques for each group together with its temporal overlap makes this task extremely demanding in terms of human resources.