How Native Landscaping Makes a Difference

Across the United States hundreds of organizations and governmental groups promote the use of native landscaping by homeowners as a way of providing habitat to urban wildlife. Many of these efforts and programs are branded with claims of "restoring habitat" or "helping pollinators''. Yet, despite how common these programs are, there has been little investigation into whether these programs are working as intended. My lab partnered with St. Louis Audubon Society to assess the effectiveness of their Bring Conservation Home (BCH) program. BCH certifies yards to one of three levels based on meeting certain habitat requirements. We sampled birds, bees, and mosquitoes in houses in each of the categories, as well as houses that are enrolled but have not met the requirements to meet the lowest certification tier. Preliminary results indicate that BCH certification level is correlated to an increase in bird and bee diversity, and a decrease in harmful mosquito abundance. However, the pattern varies in urban, suburban, and exurban neighborhoods.

Gerardo Camilo is a native of Puerto Rico where he grew up, and attended the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez. He moved to Texas in 1986 to attend Texas Tech University where he earned a masters degree in entomology in 1988. After completing the MS he moved to the biology department and earned his doctorate in zoology in 1992. From 1992 to 1995 Dr. Camilo was a postdoctoral associate at the Institute for Tropical Ecosystems Studies of the University of Puerto Rico where he worked on food web ecology. He joined the faculty at SLU in 1995, and he is currently full professor and runs the Billiken Bee Lab. You can find more information in his website