Becky Barak is a Ph.D. candidate in Northwestern University and Chicago Botanic Garden's Graduate Program in Plant Biology and Conservation. She gave an "ignite" talk at this August's Ecological Society of America meeting in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Ignite talks are only 5 minutes, and slides advance automatically every 15 seconds. Becky, and others in her session, described their research using only the 1,000 most commonly used words in the English language. This fun challenge was inspired by xkcd's "Upgoer Five" cartoon.
[Anna writes...] The following piece won runner-up in UWE Bristol's SCU Science Writing Competion. for a 700 word article on the "next big thing in science." Read the judge's comments on Anna's work, and the other winners' pieces, here.
Picture this: you're standing out in nature. Look down. What do you see?
Is it plants in your yard? Is it barnacles on a rocky sea shore? Is it a forest floor?
It doesn't matter what it is, as long as you're picturing it! (Mine's a prairie.)
Nearly every eco-savvy gardener knows that native plants are best for attracting native animal species. We plant milkweed for the monarchs and thistles for the finches. With native plants themselves in increasingly short supply in their wild habitats, and increasing evidence that pollinators are in trouble (e.g., Potts et al 2010 in Trends in Ecology & Evolution), the more natives we can plant for the pollinators, the better.
But a scientific research paper published in the Journal of Applied Ecology last year (Salisbury et al. 2015) is challenging the assumption that natives are always the way to go.