Project Update

The NatHistCam project is now reaching completion. Conceived in autumn 2014, work started in earnest at the beginning of 2016 and a team of volunteers began gathering data on the flora and fauna of the city. Over four years they collected data on the existence and distribution of plants and animals in the city, carrying out surveys of gardens, collating records from existing databases of plants and birds, and using their expertise to build up information on the great diversity of flora and fauna found in the 64 square kilometres of the NatHistCam study area.

Since the end of 2019 they have been collating this data, writing up accounts of the different species, preparing diagrams and maps, and taking many photos. Now in mid-2021 work is nearing completion. The information – over 125,000 words – is being structured as follows:

  • Introduction to the project; geology and climate; and the development of the city.
  • Flora As well as an overview of significant aspects of the flora, there are accounts of studies of plant distribution, domestic gardens, urban and suburban roadsides and walls.
  • Bryophytes, lichens and fungi The characteristics of the bryophyte flora of Cambridge are analysed and described. Separate sections provide an overview of macro fungi, rusts, smuts and mildews, while there is a detailed report of the lichens found in the area.
  • Invertebrates found in the area: detailed accounts of butterflies and moths, damselflies and dragonflies, as well as ants, bees and wasps, beetles, bugs, caddis flies, chafers, sawflies, molluscs and spiders.
  • Vertebrates: Accounts of fish, amphibians and reptiles; birds with a comprehensive species list; and mammals, large and small.
  • Interesting sites includes a report of the study of college gardens and sections on Cambridge University Botanic Garden, cemeteries and churchyards and Hobson’s Brook
  • A chapter on nature conservation contains brief accounts of wildlife sites and nature reserves in the city, the role of conser-vation volunteers; and pieces about the challenges of floating pennywort and mink.
  • The final chapter puts the NatHistCam project into a national context, describing some of the work that has been done on urban natural history. It reflects on the complexity of habitats in cities, the dynamics of urban expansion and species change and pulls together some thoughts on wildlife in urban areas and how it is changing in response to alien species, climate change and development.

As well as working on the content, contact has been made with a publisher who has agreed to publish the book. They are Pisces Publications, who also published Mark Hill and Chris Preston’s book Cambridgeshire’s Mosses & Liverworts: a dynamic flora in 2019, as well as Shotover: The Life of an Oxfordshire Hill and various other titles on the flora and fauna of different parts of the British Isles. They say our book will be published at the end of this year: 2021.