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Every week there are new marvels to look for in the outdoors, and Discover Nature highlights these attractions. The Missouri Department of Conservation’s Josh Hartwig brings us the stories of river otters, luna moths, red buds, and other actors as they take center stage in nature’s theater.You can hear Discover Nature, Mondays at 7:42 a.m. and 5:18 p.m.

Discover Nature: Outdoor Havens in Missouri

Missouri Department of Conservation

Discover nature this week with outdoor havens in Missouri.

Native plant species have co-evolved with native insect species and provide important food resources for thousands of species of invertebrates that in turn provide food for native birds and other animals. Choosing native plants in developed landscapes allows them to coexist with nature, rather than compete with it. The benefits of native landscaping are fueling a gardening movement that says “no” to pesticides and fertilizers and “yes” to biodiversity and creating more sustainable landscapes.

If you’ve ever wanted to turn your backyard into wildlife habitat, guess what? You can.

All wildlife requires three elements to survive: food, water, and shelter. You can attract the greatest variety and amount of wildlife to your backyard by providing a variety of those sources.

But a toad’s needs for each differ from those of a blue jay, or a butterfly, or a rabbit. Diverse habitat supports diverse wildlife. Planting an assortment of trees, shrubs, flowers, and grasses will provide alternatives for food and shelter.

You can meet wildlife’s critical water needs by maintaining a bird bath or by constructing a small pool. Add feeders and nest boxes to provide more food and shelter, or create an edge by planting trees and shrubs around open areas. An edge is where vegetation borders an open area. Edges attract more wildlife than an area solely of cover or open land.

The Missouri Prairie Foundation wants to help you protect and restore biodiversity by increasing your conservation awareness. Native plants originally occur within a region as the result of natural processes rather than human intervention. In Missouri and surrounding states, native plants are species that have existed since prior to the time of wide-spread European settlement a little more than 200 years ago. While the activities of indigenous people did affect the region’s ecosystems, it wasn’t until the mid-1800s that large-scale habitat alteration and the introduction of non-native plants began to significantly change the natural landscape of the Midwest.

More information about creating outdoor havens in Missouri can be found online at MissouriConservation.org.

Josh Hartwig is the host of Discover Nature and a media specialist for the Missouri Department of Conservation.
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