EVENTS + SPEAKING
SCHEDULE A LECTURE WITH DOUG
NATURE’S BEST HOPE
Recent headlines about global insect declines, the impending extinction of one million species worldwide, and three billion fewer birds in North America are a bleak reality check about how ineffective our current landscape designs have been at sustaining the plants and animals that sustain us. Such losses are not an option if we wish to continue our current standard of living on Planet Earth. The good news is that none of this is inevitable. Tallamy will discuss simple steps that each of us can- and must- take to reverse declining biodiversity and will explain why we, ourselves, are nature’s best hope.
A GUIDE TO RESTORING THE LITTLE THINGS THAT RUN THE WORLD
A recent UN report predicts that as many as 1 million species will disappear from planet earth because of human activities. Many of these are insects and nearly all species at risk rely on insects. Insects have already declined 45% since 1974. The most alarming part of this statistic is that we don’t seem to care, despite the fact that a world without insects is a world without humans! So how do we create beautiful landscapes brimming with life; landscapes that support the pollinators, herbivores, detritivores, predators and parasitoids that run the ecosystems we depend on? Tallamy will remind us of the many essential roles insects play, and describe the simple changes we must make in our landscapes and our attitudes to keep insects on the ground, in the air and yes, on our plants.
RESTORING NATURE’S RELATIONSHIPS AT HOME
Specialized relationships between animals and plants are the norm in nature rather than the exception. It is specialized relationships that provide our birds with insects and berries, that disperse our bloodroot seeds, that pollinate our goldenrod, and so on. Plants that evolved in concert with local animals provide for their needs better than plants that evolved elsewhere. Tallamy will explain why this is so, why specialized food relationships determine the stability and complexity of the local food webs that support animal diversity, why our yards and gardens are essential parts of the ecosystems that sustain us, and how we can use our landscapes to connect the isolated habitat fragments around us. It is time to create landscapes that enhance local ecosystems rather than degrade them.
A CHICKADEE’S GUIDE TO GARDENING
In the past we have designed our landscapes strictly for our own pleasure, with no thought to how they might impact the natural world around us. Such landscapes do not contribute much to local ecosystem function and support little life. Using chickadees and other wildlife as guides, Tallamy will explain how plants that evolved in concert with local animals provide for their needs better than plants that evolved elsewhere. In the process he shows how creating living landscapes by sharing our spaces with other living things will not reduce our pleasurable garden experiences, but enhance them.
NETWORKS FOR LIFE: YOUR ROLE IN STITCHING THE NATURAL WORLD TOGETHER
Biodiversity is essential to sustaining human societies because it is other living things that run our ecosystems. Yet, throughout the U.S., we have fragmented the habitats that support biodiversity by the way we have landscaped our cities, suburbs, and farmland. This is a problem because isolated habitats cannot support populations large enough to survive normal environmental stresses. We can reconnect viable habitats by expanding existing greenways, building riparian corridors, and by changing the landscaping paradigm that dominates our yards and corporate landscapes. Replacing half the area that is now in barren lawn with plants that are best at supporting food webs would create over 20 million acres of connectivity and go a long way toward sustaining biodiversity in the future. How we landscape today will determine what life looks like tomorrow.
LET IT BE AN OAK
Once we have decided to restore the ecological integrity of our suburban neighborhoods, we need to decide what plants to add to our properties. Oaks are superior trees for suburban restoration projects because of their many ecological and aesthetic attributes. Tallamy will compare oak species to other popular shade trees in terms of their ability to support animal diversity, protect watersheds, sequester carbon dioxide, and restore lost plant communities.
ARE ‘ALIEN’ PLANTS ‘BAD’?
The expense of fighting introduced plant invasions and the unpopularity of restricting the sale of ornamental invasives have motivated several public figures to question the wisdom of continuing to battle invasive plants. After all, they argue, if an introduced plant helps a particular butterfly, bird, or bee, why not embrace it? Using data from several studies, Tallamy answers this and related questions, showing that we can determine the overall impact of introduced plants on our ecosystems only by comparing what is gained from their use with what is lost when they replace native plant communities. Introduced plants are not the ecological equivalents of the native plants they displace because they do not support the diverse and stable food webs that run our ecosystems. Exchanging plants that support all of our animal diversity for plants that support only a few species is ecologically indefensible.