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Needingworth Quarry is the location for an exciting wetland restoration project arising from a collaboration between Hanson and the RSPB. As gravel extraction is completed in sections of Needingworth these areas are being restored into wetland habitats, including large areas of reedbed and associated rough grassland, which has been named Ouse Fen Nature Reserve. Reedbed restoration sites, typified by Needingworth also include areas of wet or dry rough grassland, with varying degrees of management through grazing, mowing and fencing. These grasslands in themselves potentially provide a valuable habitat for biodiversity, especially given the context of the considerable intensification of agricultural and other grasslands that has taken place over recent decades.
In this project we propose to investigate the insect biodiversity of grasslands surrounding the reedbed restoration units at Needingworth/Ouse Fen. The focus of our work will be the leafhoppers (Auchenorrhyncha), which are common in grassland and have been found to be useful indicators of management intensity effects. In particular we are interested in how leafhoppper communities are affected by the level of grazing by cattle and how they vary with distance from the reedbeds and open water. The principal objective is to increase our knowledge of insect communities in these habitats at Needingworth/Ouse Fen and to inform management practice decisions in relation to these grasslands, which it is hoped will help to further enhance the biodiversity value of the restoration.
The project won the 1st Prize in National Quarry Life Award in 2014 in the United Kingdom.
Read more: http://www.quarrylifeaward.com/project/investigation-insect-biodiversity-grasslands-surrounding-reedbed-restoration-needingworth