Michael Rosenzweig, an evolutionary biologist based at the University of Arizona, has analyzed data from all over the world and has found a one-to-one correspondence between habitat destruction and species loss.  In Delaware, for instance, state ecologists say that 40 percent of all native plant species identified in 1966 are threatened or extinct; and 41 percent of native birds that depend on forest cover are rare or absent.

Much of this loss isn't apparent to our untutored eyes, because those critical spaces are indeed occupied, by our buildings, roads, agricultural fields, etc. The net result, however, per Professor Tallamy is that ‘”As far as our wildlife is concerned, we have shrunk the continental United States to 1/20 of its original size...When extinction adjusts the number of species to the land area that remains...we will have lost 95% of the species that greeted the Pilgrims”.

The good news is that we do have opportunities to change this prediction. .  Bringing Nature Home makes an eloquent case for doing just that in our own backyards. According to Professor Tallamy, the vast majority of plants and animals can coexist quite well with us, if their most basic ecological needs are met.  Since for the most part we have excluded other species through thoughtlessness rather than need, rebuilding an environment in which we can co-exist could be rewarding for us as well as for them. The benefit for gardeners are gardens that are full of life and a chance to come to appreciate the insects within them.

Bringing Nature Home (cont.)

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