Belief supported in journal article

Posted March 19th, 2009 by kcorliss. Comment (0).

Here in my little burg of West Fargo I volunteer my time through the Park District nearly every spring. I teach a 3-session class on introductory birding. It’s nothing wild and crazy, it’s just a primer on the very basics. A little subject of side interest I usually stress during the first hour is landscaping with native plants. Why? Well, I tell the participants that the fauna found here on the Northern Great Plains (and everywhere else for that matter) has evolved through the millenia by complex interactions with the native plants, soils, climate, geography, and other organisms. By keeping this dynamic matrix intact (or as nearly as one can on an urban lot), a homeowner is more closely mirroring what is found here naturally, thus enhancing their chances for replicating nature in their own yards. In brief, you are more likely to see birds.

Now in the February issue of Conservation Biology there is a research report titled, Impact of Native Plants on Bird and Butterfly Biodiversity in Suburban Landscapes (by Burghardt, Tallamy, Shriver). Here’s the abstract (emphasis is mine):

"Managed landscapes in which non-native ornamental plants are favored over native vegetation now dominate the United States, particularly east of the Mississippi River. We measured how landscaping with native plants affects the avian and lepidopteran communities on 6 pairs of suburban properties in southeastern Pennsylvania. One property in each pair was landscaped entirely with native plants and the other exhibited a more conventional suburban mixture of plants—a native canopy with non-native groundcover and shrubs. Vegetation sampling confirmed that total plant cover and plant diversity did not differ between treatments, but non-native plant cover was greater on the conventional sites and native plant cover was greater on the native sites. Several avian (abundance, species richness, biomass, and breeding-bird abundance) and larval lepidopteran (abundance and species richness) community parameters were measured from June 2006 to August 2006. Native properties supported significantly more caterpillars and caterpillar species and significantly greater bird abundance, diversity, species richness, biomass, and breeding pairs of native species. Of particular importance is that bird species of regional conservation concern were 8 times more abundant and significantly more diverse on native properties. In our study area, native landscaping positively influenced the avian and lepidopteran carrying capacity of suburbia and provided a mechanism for reducing biodiversity losses in human-dominated landscapes."

It’s nice to get a hint of confirmation.

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