Wildlife Gardeners - North American Wildlife Gardening  

Go Back   Wildlife Gardeners - North American Wildlife Gardening > General Gardening Boards > WG Library > Book Discussions

Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 06-20-2009, 03:18 AM   #1
Fox
 
Calliandra's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife (Tallamy)

http://www.amazon.com/Bringing-Natur.../dp/0881929921

This book is so familiar to many of you that I don't dare try to review it without having a copy in front of me.

Anyone else want to venture a summary, review, or synopsis to introduce the book and start the thread?

Last edited by Calliandra; 07-02-2010 at 04:06 PM.
Calliandra is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-20-2009, 02:02 PM   #2
1st Place Winner Winner Butterfly/Moth Contest & Official Ant Man
 
MrILoveTheAnts's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: New Jersey
Default

"Bringing Nature Home" by Doug Tallamy is an inspirational plea to drastically change how we think of using the land. Though the book focuses on changing suburban gardens the author also attacks cities as well. Facts like there are enough paved roads in America to fill the state of New Jersey 5 times over and viewing the US at night to show how much of the eastern seaboard has been logged really puts the damage we've done into perspective. All around the world the threat of global warming has scientists struggling to solve the problem. Everyone has heard about the rain forests being logged (which I'll point out only make up 3% of the earths surface) but no one seems to care about the 70% of the eastern seaboard that has been cleared away.

The bottom line is global warming is an epidemic because of so much carbon being put into the air from fossil fuels. Tallamy points out that a single tree can sequester 450,000 pounds of carbon in a year and hold that for it's potential 400+ year life span. Planting tons of trees would seem to at least buy us some time with solving the problem. (Something not in his book though are farther studies that show a forest can actually store a lot of that carbon in the forest floor as leaves fall to the ground each year and get locked away. So the benefits are actually a bit better than his book makes out.)

Some would point out that we already have forests dotting the landscape but that's the problem. There aren't enough of them and it's damaging to the environment. Tallamy presents studies of what happens when you isolate a group of species and limit their population so small reservations. He also takes the time to poke holes in the theory of key stone species. Basically scientists used to think that a hand full of species were supporting the food chain for their range. This is true for some species but when one takes the method used in this study and applies to random groups of species then suddenly almost every species in the world has a keystone roll to play for various other species they normally encounter. When you remove one or more the whole system collapses. Because of this he states that it's not enough to focus all our efforts on saving a hand full of species to save the rest of them. Every species in a system should be protected equally. (I will point out that the Endangered Species Act specifically does NOT apply to any species that might be considered a "pest" species.)

Using islands in tropical areas with few if any migratory species as an example Tallamy shows that there is a direct connection with the size of an environment and it's carrying capacity. When the Panama Canal was first made, lots of areas flooded over and suddenly what was once a mountain became a small island. The wildlife there suddenly lost the majority of it's food supply and most of the species went extinct. He ends by saying that America only has 5% of it's land protected. This means, under this model we can expect 95% of species in America to go extinct.

Right now had he ended his book there the underlining message have been plant some trees. But no, Tallamy continues on to be more specific. Yes planting trees would offset climate change, but it's one thing to plant something pretty and quite another to plant something pretty useful. As it turns out some species of plants can be quite invasive and utterly dominate or destroy an environment over time. The majority of these invasive species are nonnative imports. You can thank human commerce and the horticulture industry. So this raises the question, how beneficial are nonnatives like the Bradford Pears, Asian Yews, Japanese Honeysuckle, and nonnative varieties of Apple Trees?

In so many words, Tallamy explains how the chemistry of each leaf on a tree is different. Likewise, insects being so small they can only stomach so many types of these chemicals. This restricts the diet of many insects to a hand full of plants and more often then not they can only eat the native plants they evolved along side of. So the majority of nonnative plants are completely inedible to our native wildlife. This is a problem because it's only through insects that we are able to unlock the energy in most plant life. Oak leaves taste awful, but to the caterpillar they are delicious. Most people will also say caterpillars taste awful (and many of them are poisonous!) but to the bird, most caterpillars are delicious. The last half of his book focuses on caterpillars and butterfly gardens. A frilly as they are, they're actually incredibly beneficial environments.

The Bradford Pear tree is probably the most common flowering tree sold but it supports nothing. Thus when migratory birds come back they find a barren landscape littered with what might as well be fake trees. Asian yews, though they offer nesting for birds also don't provide any food, nothing uses it as a host plant. Japanese Honeysuckle actually strangles trees and is quite invasive. On the up side though Japanese Honeysuckle is also used by one or two species of sawflies. See Here and Here. This is bird food, but when one ways the number of native species the Honeysuckle killed it's more detrimental. Finally we come to apple trees. North America only has 3 or 4 species of apples native to it and none of them are in cultivation. However, in a surprising twist we find the leaf chemistry is similar enough that some 300+ species of caterpillar can use it as a host plant. This is not only good for the environment but it's creating loads of bird food over all.

The remainder of his book focuses on an ideal butterfly garden, blending in with the neighbors, what to plant, and lastly a very long chapter on the different sorts of bugs one will attract to the yard. (Somehow Ants which make up 1/3 of the insect population were left out but mentioned when he talks about aphids. :mad: ) These chapters are an absolute delight to read. His suggestions on butterfly plants are fantastic thought you might be hard pressed to find some of these suggestions at any garden center. Blending in with the neighbors is a lot easier than it sounds and he even offers a landscaping design as an example. There is a complete list of trees and the number of species they support, as well in the back there is a key on some of the more showy looking moths and butterflies as well their host plants. By the time you've finished reading this book it becomes apparent that you can design a garden to support the species that appeal to you.
MrILoveTheAnts is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-21-2009, 12:56 PM   #3
Fox
 
Calliandra's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Default

Fantastic & well done, MrIlLovetheAnts! Thank you so much for stepping to the front and and starting the thread with this thorough review.

I have more comments about the book, but will have to post later when I have more time. In the meantime... anyone else have thoughts related to the book? What was surprising, what was useful, what confirmed other data, what did you take away from this book?
Calliandra is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-22-2009, 04:35 PM   #4
Fox
 
NEWisc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Wisconsin
Default

Great review MrILoveTheAnts.

Douglas Tallamy also does a lot of speaking engagements. If he is speaking in your area, don't miss the opportunity to attend one of his presentations.

A Case for Native Gardening — Bringing Nature Home
Timber Press: Douglas W. Tallamy
__________________
.
Age is a biological fact.
Old is a state of mind.
I will age, but I refuse to get old.
NEWisc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-23-2009, 01:10 PM   #5
1st Place Winner Winner Butterfly/Moth Contest & Official Ant Man
 
MrILoveTheAnts's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: New Jersey
Default

I have seen him speaking live already at the Mt. Cuba Center last fall. Got my book signed too!
MrILoveTheAnts is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-23-2009, 10:07 PM   #6
Fox
 
Calliandra's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Default

Amazon says there's a new "revised and updated" edition out as of April 2009. Anyone seen it yet?
Calliandra is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-23-2009, 11:35 PM   #7
Official Plant Nerd
 
Equilibrium's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Default

Figures. I bought two copies to give to friends a week ago.
__________________
"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."
- Dr. Seuss
Equilibrium is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-24-2009, 03:54 PM   #8
Salamander
 
Dirty Knees's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Milwaukee
Default

Somebody gave me a copy of this book as a gift. Thank you to that somebody.
__________________
It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.
~ Napoleon Hill
Dirty Knees is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-24-2009, 04:17 PM   #9
1st Place Winner Winner Butterfly/Moth Contest & Official Ant Man
 
MrILoveTheAnts's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: New Jersey
Default

I actually bought his second edition too. Which seems to only be available in paper back. It's longer, expanded, and just has more examples in it. No real differences stand out to me.

I was actually hoping he'd write another book on the topic, but with emphases on the south east US this time or possibly out west. I did a distribution chart for ant species of North America over the spring and learned just about 90% of the species in the US are found in USDA growing zone 5 on down. I imagen the same would apply to plants. Actually a huge trend I noticed was all the introduced species are found in either Florida or California, though most are not invasive. They're shipped in accidentally with the plants. I feel that this would be an ideal sight to base another book.
MrILoveTheAnts is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-24-2009, 11:50 PM   #10
Unicellular Fungi
 
TheLorax's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Default

Disappointing. I bought the first edition in hardback to give as a gift. I would have preferred to give the updated second edition.
__________________
"In the end we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand; we will understand only what we have been taught."
-Baba Dioum, Senegalese ecologist
TheLorax is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
birds, book, bringing, butterfly, caterpillars, ecosystem, garden, habitat, home, host plants, native, nature, plants, sustain, tallamy, wildlife

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 05:44 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Search Engine Friendly URLs by vBSEO 3.3.2