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How Native Plants Sustain our Ecosystems

James Pritchett

A Lot of Iowans have been planting milkweed over the years in an effort to bring Monarch butterflies back from the brink, and there has been some success. But dramatic changes in the landscape due to large scale agriculture and our own personal landscapes have such an impact, that planting milkweed is just a drop in the bucket.

On this episode of Talk of Iowa, Host Charity Nebbe talks with Doug Tallamy, a Professor of entomology and wildlife ecology at the University of Delaware, to learn about the landscapes we’ve created, what the cost may be to many species, and how each one of us can make a difference.

The importance of native plants can be seen in the "food webs" of our local wildlife. If groups of insects can’t eat non-native plants, they can't transfer that energy through these food webs to birds or other insect predators. “All of these things are working together, you can’t take one group out and expect the whole to continue to function.” says Tallamy.

There are many things people can do to increase the biomass of local flora and fauna, from planting something as small as Goldenrod and native grasses to something as large as an Oak tree. “You do want a diversity of these keystone plants in your landscape.” Tallamy explains. 

Also in the hour, a look at the importance of plants in relation to the watershed, and how those in agriculture cam support local plant and animal species.

This program originally aired on 2/5/2019

Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Katelyn Harrop is a producer for IPR's River to River and Talk of Iowa
Dennis Reese was the mid-day host for Iowa Public Radio