Friday, June 10, 2011

Life In The Leaf Litter ...and other organic debris.




The publications page at the The Center For Biodiversity and Conservation
has made available several resources of interest.
One in particular Life in the Leaf Litter... Johnson, Elizabeth A.Catley, Kefyn M. seems of importance to wildlife gardening and biodiversity conservation in urban areas.
I have mentioned this before here at pollinators-welcome in the post Mulch-Natural Duff-Living Cover . Since then it has become increasingly apparent just how necessary this layer is to the function of ecosystems and wildlife habitat.

"Life In The Leaf Litter" is free and easy to download , consisting of 1.58 MB, just 17 pages of text and a few drawings. You can save it or just read and delete.
Within those few pages is an introduction to the function and form of leaf litter and the various occupants and their roles.

A wildlife garden produces an exceptional amount of biomass. While compost is part of the option for managing this decomposing organic matter there are other options. One is just leaving in place within the garden. This is very much the same in the meadows and garden beds as under trees and shrubs. While mowing, cutting back or burning such accumulation is needed periodically, to do so too often recks havoc with the wildlife by destroying nests,overwinter protection and many in larval stages unable to easily relocate.
Another option is composting until most matter is unrecognizable then without sifting using as a mulch.
None of this means you must leave the garden looking completely unkempt. But a relaxation of the expectations of neat and orderly in our urban gardens and local parks will go far to provide ecosystem function.


Function in the form of services, such as allowing water to filter more easily through into the soil and providing habitat for tiny invertebrates that feed on organic litter, breaking it down into smaller pieces which bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms then decompose into soluble chemicals and minerals such as nitrogen, calcium and sulfur. These nutrients are then recycled and used again by trees and other growing plants .
Service such as keeping the soil from overheating in urban heat islands and creating a spongy layer that resists compaction.


It is something to think about.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Michelle said...

I found your blog when looking for info on fireflies of all things. I love all the book by Sara Stine and it changed everything about my yard starting 2 years ago. I am not a gardener but am trying to plant native and establish a wildlife friendly garden especially for pollinators.....Michelle

15/6/11 12:39 PM  
Blogger Gloria said...

Fireflies are favorites and a signal that summer is here for real. You may not consider yourself a gardener yet but it appears you have the itch. Good luck with locating any native plants you would like to grow.I have found myself starting plants from seed and/or cuttings and actually liking the process.
I will check out your writing,thanks for stopping by!

16/6/11 9:02 AM  

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