Posts Tagged ‘pollinators’

As part of an ongoing effort to make content more accessible, LAM will be making select stories available to readers in Spanish. For a full list of translated articles, please click here.

Click above for a full PDF of the translated text, with English text available below.

BY MAGGIE ZACKOWITZ

FROM THE DECEMBER 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Sam Droege’s lab at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center does not have a street address. To get there, you count the miles down a winding Maryland road, looking for the seventh in a series of gates (#6 is unnumbered) set into the tall wire fence alongside. Punch the code into a keypad for the gate once you find it, drive up the hill, and hang a sharp left. There sits a low building in a yard of waving grass and wildflowers, encircled by another high fence—this one electrified. It’s a remnant of security for the yard’s former occupants: whooping cranes once raised here to repopulate the species.

“The fencing wasn’t to keep the cranes in so much as keep the predators out,” explains Droege, a wildlife biologist. These days the compound’s objects of study aren’t luring the local carnivores. What’s inside, in fact, are stacks and stacks of pizza boxes. They are filled with bees.

First, the bees are drowned. Cup traps filled with soapy water are placed in sunny areas near blooming plants; the bees cooperate by falling in. Their bodies are then gently washed clean of pollen and dust, dried, assigned bar codes, labeled with date and place of collection, and pinned by the dozens to the floor of the protective pizza boxes to await identification. Bees are sent here by bee collectors from all over the world. “We’re up to over half a million specimens,” says Droege, who has run the United States Geological Survey’s Native Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab (NBIML) for some 20 years. (more…)

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Trees-For-Bees-2016-Poster

This year’s official National Pollinator Week poster. Credit: Pollinator Partnership, artist Natalya Zahn.

This is National Pollinator Week, held every year to call attention to the imperiled state of bees, butterflies, birds, and bats, and their pivotal role in the environment and the food web.  Throughout the week, organizations around the country will host events and talks on the problems facing pollinators and possible steps for their future health. There’s a pollinator tour in Caldwell, Idaho; a Discovery Day at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum in Atlanta; Beekeeping for Beginners at Timberline Farm in Belleview, Florida, and much more, all of which can be found on this map hosted on the Pollinator Partnership’s website. There’s also a gathering here at ASLA on Thursday, June 23 to mark the occasion. There are, after all, 200,000 species of pollinators.

On Thursday, June 23 at 10:30 a.m. Eastern, Keith Robinson, the lead landscape architect at the California Department of Transportation, will represent ASLA at a congressional briefing titled “Highways to Habitats: Enhancing Pollinator Forage Areas” to discuss pollinator health and conservation actions with members of the Congressional Pollinator Protection Caucus.

The Pollinator Partnership website is a great resource throughout the year; it has many ways in which to get involved in the protection of our pollinators, including native planting palettes searchable by region. For more information about National Pollinator Week and events near you, please visit www.pollinator.org.

 

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Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture (Flickr: Pollinator 2) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

This is a big year for pollinators at ASLA. Not just because of recent ASLA advocacy efforts for legislation protecting and enhancing pollinators and their habitats in the United States, but also because of ASLA’s involvement in the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge, a new White House initiative aimed at creating a million new pollinator-friendly gardens within the next two years. Disappearing habitat, lack of native plants, pesticides, and unknown forces are leading to the frightening loss of pollinators, and the White House is calling on the nation to step up its game.

Mark Cason, the government affairs manager at ASLA (and our friendly floormate), is leading the pollinator advocacy projects. He sees landscape architects as poised to help rebuild pollinator populations. “ASLA is promoting the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge as a way to engage landscape architects to incorporate pollinator-friendly habitats in their designs,” says Cason. Providing for pollinators might seem like a no-brainer, but a study last year found pesticides toxic to bees covering plants marketed as “bee-friendly”; this problem underlines the need to do more. If we protect pollinators, we protect ourselves.

For more information on the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge, please visit here.

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BY CAROL E. BECKER

Building the supply chain for native landscapes.

Building the supply chain for native landscapes.

From the May 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

The oak is our national tree for a reason. Oaks are endemic to our native landscapes in all regions of the United States, easily identified by their leaf shape and gnarly branches. The size of the mature white oak (Quercus alba), spreading up to 120 feet, is one reason we associate oaks with strength, along with the density of the wood and an oak fire’s burning hot and long in the woodstove. Native oaks fall into two taxonomic groups, white and red, and their landscape uses vary depending on soil moisture. But most important today, as Douglas Tallamy, a professor of entomology and wildlife ecology at the University of Delaware, points out, oaks are the “quintessential wildlife plants.” They provide food to more than 500 species of caterpillars and other insects. In this fact lies the oaks’ value to the entire food chain, from the birds that eat insects to the humans who rest in the trees’ shade.

We need more oaks in our landscapes, mostly for the food benefits they provide. But instead of being sought-after plants, oaks are underused, undermarketed, undercultivated, and therefore in short supply. Landscape architects don’t often use them, clients don’t ask for them, and thus growers don’t grow them. A reverse scenario also holds true. Few nurseries grow Quercus species, particularly Q. macrocarpa, Q. muehlenbergii, and Q. alba, because they are hard to grow and suffer significant transplant death. So clients don’t see them and don’t ask for them and, in turn, landscape architects don’t specify them. Whatever the reason and wherever you start, it’s a circle of mutually reinforcing supply and demand.

The oaks are but one example of the larger problem for design professionals working to create sustainable landscapes with hardy plants in a given region. The interest in doing so—the imperative of doing so—is unequaled by the supply of appropriate species. This shortage also helps perpetuate clients’ expectations of plant specimens they do in fact see at the retail level, plants that are well-shaped, blooming, varied, and maybe even a bit exotic. The landscape architecture profession has taught them to value this aesthetic at least since the mid-19th century, when Andrew Jackson Downing codified ornamental landscaping in A Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening. Now, we find ourselves in a world where, in just the past 40 years, half the songbird species in the United States and more than 90 percent of the monarch butterflies have disappeared. Honeybees and bumblebees have fallen to a mysterious virus, a cataclysmic problem that threatens the entire food chain. We do know how to reverse these trends and preserve biodiversity in landscapes, but we can’t get it done because clients still want constantly blooming and well-shaped plants with no bugs.

(more…)

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