NEXT PAGE  

Advertisement

How does biodiversity help an ecosystem?

A monarch touches down in the ecosystem of this purple thistle flower. See more insect pictures.
A monarch touches down in the ecosystem of this purple thistle flower. See more insect pictures.
iStockphoto/Thinkstock

"Hon! Look what I found."

Karen walked into the house holding an orange and black butterfly in her cupped hand. I immediately knew what those Halloween colors meant — the monarchs had arrived.

Advertisement

"Wow," I said in bug-eyed amazement. "I've been here 14 years, and never have I seen a monarch butterfly. That's pretty cool."

Indeed it was. Once upon a time, butterflies of any sort were rare on my two Connecticut acres (0.8 hectares). They'd flutter over only a small portion of the property lapping up the nectar from my blooming black-eyed Susans, echinacea, roses, hydrangeas, tulips and foxglove. They stayed away from the rest of the property — a tangle of dead trees, poison ivy, underground wasp nests, and thorny brambles and vines.

By the spring of 2012, I had enough. I bulldozed the dead trees, excavated the rocks and planted a lawn framed by a field of wildflowers. Whaddya know? I inadvertently turned my property into a bustling ecosystem. An army of monarchs and birds soon found a home among the new flowers and grasses. Field mice and moles scurried as never before. Heck, I even saw a snake slither pass.

Of course, not all the critters were welcomed, as is the case of all ecosystems. Much to my dismay, a family of deer sneaked over the fence to nibble on the flowers. Dive-bombing horseflies irritated my dogs at dusk.

Still, I watched in awe as the bees and butterflies skipped from flower to flower while cardinals, buntings, finches and other birds feasted on seeds and feed. I knew the snake and the family of hawks that nested nearby were chowing down on the field mice. Even our barn cat, Blackie, got in on the act. He bagged a mole and left it on the front porch. It seems the chipmunks were too fast.

I was extremely proud of my accidental biosphere. It helped me understand that biodiversity (or how much biological difference you can pack into a particular spot) is important no matter the size of an ecosystem. The monarchs came because they loved the flowers. The bees danced because they had a new source of food. The grass and the new rock garden provided shade, safety and a breeding ground for myriad insects and small animals. Can biodiversity help an ecosystem? You bet. Go the next page to find out how.

Advertisement


Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement



Advertisement


Recommended

Advertisement

Advertisement