Join a community tracking barberry bushes to inform conservation and UK wheat food security
Barberry Rust Explorer (BarbRE) is UK wide citizen science project aiming to track common barberry bushes across the country.
By getting involved you will help inform conservation practice and UK wheat disease management
All you need to join in, is a smart phone.
The answer has two parts, conservation practice and wheat rusts.
The barberry bush is a vital habitat for biodiversity, particularly for the endangered barberry carpet moth. Tracking the locations of barberry bushes could inform UK conservation practice to preserve wildlife.
However barberry can also play a role in crop disease. Wheat crops can be infected by fungal ‘rusts’ which damages the crop and lowers the end harvest. Two of these types of rust can infect common barberry and use it as a host to survive on over winter, between wheat growing periods.
Our new Barberry Rust Explorer (BarbRE) program establishes the first detailed study of barberry bushes for rust infection in the UK. This will help us understand the current threat barberry could pose as an incubation site for emerging wheat rust strains. But first the location of these bushes needs to be determined to identify those near cereal crops that need careful monitoring.