Human settlements offer fundamentally different conditions to all other habitats. Houses are like artificial rocks for animals and plants. Between the houses there are protected places. The temperature is usually higher than in the surrounding cultural landscape, although little light reaches the ground because of the buildings. Nutrients are also usually available in abundance. Human activities cause almost constant disturbances. All in all, there are highly specialised animal and plant communities in towns and villages. Although in Europe, there is a long tradition to study them, in South Tyrol we are still at the very beginning. For the biodiversity monitoring we have selected a total of 30 points, 10 in cities and larger towns, 10 in smaller villages and 10 in industrial and commercial areas.

Generally, small villages are still strongly influenced by agriculture. In many cases the farms are still located within the closed settlement area. Especially if farm animals are still kept, nutrients are brought in. Small villages are often still strongly intertwined with the surrounding countryside and many animal and plant species can be found which are typical for hay meadows and fields. In total we have selected 10 small villages spread over all parts of the country.

Dwarf nettle (Urtica urens)

Traditional farmers' garden in Pinzagen/Pinzago (Eisack Valley)

St. Peter Lajen/San Pietro di Laion

Within small villages frequently farm animals are kept (Pinzagen/Pinzago)

In South Tyrol there are eight towns and a number of other similarly sized villages with urban character. As a rule, urban habitats no longer have any connection to the surrounding agricultural areas. Cities are centres for the surrounding municipalities and traffic junctions. Thus, cities are also often places where species first appear. Many alien species have so far only been found in cities. For the biodiversity monitoring we selected 10 points in the largest towns of the country.

Firebug (Pyrrhocoris apterus), Brixen/Bressanone

Creeping buttercup (Ranunculus repens), Eisack Valley

City of Bolzano/Bozen

Ivy-leaved toadflax (Cymbalaria muralis), Bolzano/Bozen

Industrial areas have a character that is again clearly different from that of towns and villages. Most of the structures are larger, ornamental plants are less common or are also arranged on a large scale. Often one also finds larger fallow areas. Almost every bigger municipality in South Tyrol has a zone for handicraft and industry. For the biodiversity monitoring we selected 10 points in the largest towns of South Tyrol.

Vaillant's Fumewort (Fumaria vaillantii), Bolzano/Bozen

Street in the industrial area of Bolzano/Bozen

Train tracks at the train station of Brixen/Bressanone with yellow hornpoppy (Glaucium flavum)

Common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale agg.), Bressanone/Brixen