Sustaining Healthy Food Webs with Keystone Plant Species by Meredith Gallogly, Grow Native Massachusetts
To view presentation, click here . . . To view Meredith's hand out, click here.
What do Birds, Insects, and Plants have in common? One cannot survive without the other. They are all necessary to sustain a healthy food web.
In a free virtual talk, Meredith Gallogly, Manager of Programs at Grow Native Massachusetts, will take a deep dive into the ecological links between birds, caterpillars, and native plants, and what we can do to support this system and add beauty to our yards and communities.
Gallogly’s talk supports Greening Greenfield’s new campaign called 70% Native Plants: trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants countt, which was inspired by Dr. Desiree Narango’s research that found that to find the over 6,000 caterpillars that Chickadees need to raise their young, that 70% of the plant foliage within 50-yards of their nest must be native to the area.
“Caterpillars, the larval stage of butterflies and moths, play an outsized role in our ecosystem, because they are nutritious, soft, and edible.” Says Gallogly. “Some native plants are called keystone plants because they play a huge role in sustaining healthy food webs. Caterpillars eat these plants, which gather nutrients via photosynthesis, and then birds eat the caterpillars, moving all that energy up the food chain.”
Gallogly will highlight the top readily-available keystone plants of the northeast for a variety of landscape conditions and scales. She will also offer tips on establishing and managing these plants, to help everyone steward the land in their communities and their backyards.
“Learning about butterflies, moths, and birds has completely changed what I choose to plant in my yard and community,” said Nancy Hazard, of Greening Greenfield. “While milkweed is necessary for monarch’s to survive, trees and shrubs native to our area play an outsized role in hosting butterflies and moths, so trees and shrubs are where chickadees find the majority of food for their young.”
Restoring natural habitat is a major focus of Greening Greenfield’s efforts, which aim to work toward a more sustainable Greenfield. Plants are critically important not only to the many creatures that share our planet with us, but also nature is the only way we can draw carbon out of the atmosphere and store it to lessen the severity of the climate crisis. What you plant in your yard and community matters!
Meredith Gallogly, an avid plant observer, holds a Biological Sciences degree from Smith College. She manages Grow Native Massachusetts’ educational programs such as workshops, walks, their eNews, and an annual plant sale in the Boston area.
FYI – Meredith Gallogly’s talk will be posted on GG web site after the event.