Village and Wilderness

Microhabitat Program Resource Center

An open access resource for new and emerging microhabitat programs

Microhabitat Program
Resource Center

An open access resource for new and emerging microhabitat programs

We are constantly discovering tools, research and information that we think would be valuable to our network of microhabitat program managers, technicians, volunteers and participants. As the Resource Center develops, we will be organizing these finds into useful, searchable categories. For now, we highlight noteworthy resources here in this catch-all section. Check back often for new content!

Birdcast: This “radar ornithology” tool predicts and monitors bird migration across the United States, in real time. It is powered by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Colorado State University and UMass Amherst, together with a range of other partners and individuals. It could be a useful tool for implementing timely management practices to minimize risks and maximize success for bird populations across migratory pathways. 

“Museum researchers enlist hundreds of home gardeners in fight to save the iconic monarch butterfly” Chicago Tribune,  The article highlights a 4-year long research project, which has recruited over 400 home gardeners throughout the Chicago, IL area to learn how to support the Eastern monarch butterfly population in small urban spaces. Conducted by researchers at the Field Museum, this project has involved increasing the amount of milkweed in yards and recruiting gardeners as community scientists to help gather relevant data.  

“Farms that create habitat key to food security and biodiversity” New research throws light on the value of particular types of agricultural land for biodiversity. Comparing bird populations over time on three different landscape types—forests, diversified farms and intensive agriculture—in Costa Rica, the researchers findings suggest that diversified farms are key for biodiversity. The relationship is mutual, as the farms also need a diverse population of birds and insects to provide pollination, pest control and other ecosystem services to ensure food security.

“Degraded, but not defunct: Modified land still has wildlife value, study says.” Mongabay: This article highlights the development of a new framework for considering and preserving biodiversity during rapid changes in land use. Among other things, the framework argues that even “degraded” land often has some wildlife value. Preserving this biodiversity through realistic means in the dynamic, human-modified context should be a priority when the land is slated for conversion, say from rubber to palm oil plantations, or coffee plantations to livestock grazing fields.

FloraQuest: Tools for plant identification are essential to helping increase native plant literacy among microhabitat program participants. Indeed the need for more tools to enable accurate plant identification comes up in our conversations with microhabitat programs. The UNC Chapel Hill Herbarium recently released the first in its series of FloraQuest apps, covering the Northern Tier of 25 Southeastern states. It contains graphic keys and dichotomous keys to enable plant identification (and to foster learning about plant identification), with a large library of diagnostic images. We have not tested this app out yet, but were happy to learn about it from reputable sources and to learn that it combines the scientific approach of a traditional Flora with the convenience and portability of a phone-based app.

Native Plant Finders: The website of Homegrown National Park, founded by Doug Tallamy among others, has compiled this list of resources that microhabitat programs and participants will find invaluable for identifying the right native plants to use for their region. The site has many other useful resources such as native plant lists for region-specific container gardens, and a searchable directory of native plant sources and ecological design/consultation services by locality.

Right Bird Right House Tool: One of the most inspiring aspects of microhabitat programs is the potential for supporting pollinator and bird populations even in the midst of human habitation. This interactive tool, created by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Nest Watch program, could help these efforts be even more effective. The tool enables the determination of what species that would be attracted to specific regions and habitats, and provides detailed instructions for building appropriate nest boxes or nesting structures for those species.

Growing Greener Podcast Episode: Beautiful and Field Tested Native Lawns: A conversation with Dan Jaffe Wilder, former the Senior Plant Propagator at the Native Plant Trust (Garden in the Woods) and Director of Applied Ecology at the Norcross Wildlife Foundation, on practical ways to convert/create lawns using native plants.