University collaborates with Isle of Wight Garden

A new collaboration with Ventnor Botanical Garden on the Isle of Wight will allow staff at the University of Portsmouth to research the effect of climate change on the garden’s plants.

The collaboration, driven by Dr Rocio Perez-Barrales and Dr Matthew Tallis, will also provide many other research opportunities for staff and students, as well as a good setting for experiments on the ecology and biology of plant species.

The collaboration marks an exciting new chapter for both the University and the garden. Dr Perez-Barrales, from the School of Biological Sciences said: “I am thrilled that the gardens have agreed to work with us, it is an incredible opportunity and will allow us to carry out some fascinating research.”

The garden is renowned for its unrivalled collection of subtropical plants, with species from South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and the Mediterranean. It also lies in the heart of the famous ‘undercliff’, a sheltered, south facing piece of land which is considerably warmer than anywhere else on the island, allowing the non-native plants to grow unprotected outdoors. The garden has already been used by researchers from other universities in America and the UK.

Dr Rocio Perez-Barrales (6th from left) and members of the Garden’s Friends’ Society.

Ventnor will also provide a location for students to carry out their third year projects, something which one second-year student is already planning to do. Fleur Otridge will be investigating whether the species diversity of bees differs between the natural flora of the island and the exotic plants within the gardens. She said: “I have always been interested in plants and insects, so I jumped at the chance to work at Ventnor. It is a really exciting opportunity to work in a beautiful setting, and I can’t wait to get started.”

Dr Perez-Barrales said: “It will be really beneficial for the students to actually see some of the plants which feature in our lectures, rather than just listening to me talk about them.”

If you would like to know more about the Ventnor Botanical Garden, please visit botanic.co.uk or ventnorbotanicfriends.org.uk

UoP News © 2017 All Rights Reserved