March 3 is the United Nations’ annual commemoration of World Wildlife Day, a time to highlight the importance of Earth’s natural resources and call for action to protect them.
This year’s theme is “Sustaining all life on Earth,” as 2020 is noted to be “a biodiversity super year.” The international body aims to raise awareness about the multitude of benefits of wildlife to people, plus the interlinkages between the various components of biodiversity and the threats they are facing.
On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske discussed the impact of biodiversity loss on Missouri's lesser-known native plants and insects. Joining the conversation were experts from the Missouri Botanical Garden: Quinn Long, director of the Shaw Nature Reserve, and Aaron Lynn-Vogel, horticulturist at the Kemper Center for Home Gardening.
They talked about habitats and wildlife at Shaw Nature Reserve, which is home to many species native to Missouri, and what homeowners can do to promote biodiversity in their own backyards through plant selection.
The reserve’s Ecological Restoration program enhances native biodiversity via three primary means: invasive species control, prescribed fire, and collecting and sowing seed of native species. Collectively, these measures enhance the diversity of native flora and the fauna (insects, birds, amphibians and more) that rely upon diverse intact plant communities.
As Long and Lynn-Vogel explained, that plant selection comes with the acceptance of bugs. Having plants being nibbled on isn’t such a bad thing overall, as most bugs don’t pose a threat to humans and can help get rid of harmful bugs like aphids. Such native plants include milkweeds and pipevines that attract butterflies, dill and achillea (also known as yarrow).
The native plants also help attract the nearly 450 bee species in Missouri and baby birds which rely upon insect larvae that are hosted on the plants.
Contributing to biodiversity is very much achievable, Long and Lynn-Vogel said, even for those with limited gardening space. Something like a potted plant can go a long way, such as potting gaillardia plants (commonly known as blanket flowers), which do well in both attracting pollinators and looking pretty.
Listen to the full discussion:
“St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan and Joshua Phelps. The engineer is Aaron Doerr, and production assistance is provided by Charlie McDonald.
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