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How To Use The Database

Intent: This website will help you select and use plants species that provide various ecosystem services such as pollination, biological control of pests and other benefits. Ecosystem Services are processes that take place in the natural world that benefit mankind. These functions are provided from interactions between the ecological components of natural resources. These services contribute to the stability, productivity and sustainability of our environment.

Ecosystem Services Description

According to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment ( , MA) ecosystem services can be classified as follows:

  • Cultural: nonmaterial benefits people derive from ecosystems, such as recreation, cultural and religious values, artistic and scientific inspiration, etc.
  • Provisioning: products that come directly from ecosystems, such as food, fiber, fuel, pharmaceuticals, etc.
  • Regulating: benefits accrued from regulating ecosystem processes, such as climate regulation, water purification, flood control, crop pollination, biological control, etc. (discussed in this publication).
  • Supporting: services necessary for all other ecosystem services, such as soil formation, nutrient cycling, primary production, etc.

Target Audiences: the general public, agricultural clientele, IPM practitioners, Green Industry (nursery and greenhouse growers, garden center personnel, landscape architects, landscape designers and installers, landscape installation and maintenance personnel, NRCS program staff or users, agricultural and environmental agencies' personnel and users (EQIP, other), plant and gardening organizations (Master Gardeners, garden clubs, plant societies, etc.), environmental focused societies such as the Xerces Society, ATTRA, wildlife managers, honey producers, urban planners, decision makers, etc.

The focus of this website is on the “regulating” ecosystem services of plant pollination and biological control (also an Integrated Pest Management tactic) directly concerning biodiversity (flora and fauna) and the cultural services related to the appreciation and enjoyment of flora such as flowering plants and associated fauna of butterflies, birds and other wildlife. We also have included plants suitable for use in “trap cropping” of stink bugs, also an integrated pest management tactic, (Mizell et al. 2008) as an effective and practical example of how direct habitat manipulation of plant species can be applied to suppress pest populations as well as augment beneficial organisms in what can be termed “multifunctional’ plots. (Lovell and Johnston 2009a,b). An explanation of integrated pest management (IPM) and how it relates to ecosystems services is provided here.

IPM Description

Background: Integrated pest management has been around for a long time but stems formally from a 1959 Hilgardia publication by Stern et al. that referred to bio-based pest suppression methods as integrated control. From this “beginning”, which formalized in print what had been practiced and proselytized by many prior to 1959 evolved the integrated pest management that we know as IPM. From the beginning, IPM was rooted in accepted ecological principles incorporating both abiotic and biotic factors to suppress pest outbreaks, which when practiced become “applied ecology”. With the occurrence of global warming, rising global human populations requiring more food, and enhanced environmental awareness by the public, now as never before, IPM is needed to meet human needs regarding pest suppression. Unfortunately, the ecological basis of IPM often is overlooked, misunderstood or simply ignored. One way to broaden the perspective is to link the actual strategies and tactics used in IPM, for example, specific habitat manipulations to augment biological control agents. pollinators, and trap crops for stink bugs, to encompass the broader landscape of natural resources, urban areas, etc., where the need for biodiversity is critical (Lovell and Johnston 2009b).

This website discusses the conceptual description of ecosystem services and their relationship to IPM, and more importantly, provides practical advice on how to enhance these services and use them as IPM tactics. This is not a matter of splitting hairs – the implications of this shift from thinking about feel-good concepts to actually providing advice on implementation tools that can make a real environmental change at the local and landscape levels as well as in user thinking and practice, should not be understated. We aim to deliver sound and practical recommendations for habitat manipulations that augment and increase biodiversity and its functions.

Information from this website might be used to manipulate habitats, e.g., the adding of plant biodiversity that relate to IPM needs and ecosystem services, in yards, rain and vegetable gardens, catchment ponds, and farms that accomplish the following objectives(Lovell and Johnson 2009a,b):

  • increase pollinator and butterfly diversity by augmenting nectar and pollen sources
  • attract beneficial insects (parasites and predators) to suppress insect pests
  • create trap crops to suppress stink bugs and other targeted pests (multifunctional)
  • enhance native wildlife by providing food and cover

This website is not a “recipe” book! Rather, it is a list of ingredients that you must decide how best to mix to reach your specific objectives. Consider the seasonality of resources: what mix of plants will provide pollen, nectar, fruits, or seeds when you want them? It is important to have resources available either continuously or at least during key periods. Many plants provide more than one resource (e.g., pollen, nectar, seeds) or service. Plantings should also be tailored to the type of habitat (ex. uplands vs. wetlands and full sun vs. shade). The plants suggested are primarily for the Coastal Plain area of the southern U.S. Many other plants are available to augment specific services; we have focused on annuals, perennials, vines, shrubs and small trees. We have not included any large tree species.

Expansion: We wish to see the website expand its application area and we solicit your input for both improvement of the website operation and format as well as suggestions of new plants to add into the database from both within and outside the main focus area (Contact Us).