Science

An ecologist explains how to turn your garden into "national park"

There are 6 easy steps you can take to support local ecosystems.

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3 BILLION
3 BILLION
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23%

Of wild bees in the US have declined from 2008 to 2013.

23%

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"A single person can be a piece in the overall puzzle of conservation," Tallamy tells Inverse.

Here are 6 steps you can take to improve the ecosystem around you.

Just 5 percent of plants support 75 percent of the food web, Tallamy says.

They're the "workhorses of our ecosystems."

Find your area's keystone native species with the Native Plant Finder tool online.

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It takes thousands of caterpillars to feed just a few birds.

You can keep caterpillars safe by leaving a no-mow zone around trees. Better yet, Tallamy says, plant keystone native plants there instead.

Photo: Doug Tallamy

Caterpillar munching on tiny oak tree — proving the trees are worth planting even if they don't reach full size.Doug Tallamy

Doug Tallamy

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Compared to professional farmers, homeowners use up to 10 times the amount of pesticides per acre.

"You don't need it," Tallamy says. "Almost all of that is absolutely unnecessary."

Doug Tallamy

Invasive means both non-native and harmful to the environment — often because they can spread rapidly.

They're often introduced as ornamental plants for gardens and landscaping.

Doug Tallamy

"We need to have functioning ecosystems all around us.”

—Doug Tallamy