In the summertime, outdoor lighting in your backyard can bring out the natural beauty in the landscape.
A new study suggests that plants that are naturally adapted to brighten up the landscape also attract wildlife.
The research was published in the journal Nature Communications.
Researchers at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, led by Dr. Mark Schoen, found that the plants that naturally shade and darken their own foliage have the highest conversion rates to wildlife, while plants that use their own light source, such as mosses, trees, or shrubs, have the lowest conversion rate.
“The results of our research suggest that plants with bright colors and other natural light-schemes have the potential to improve the wildlife habitat for birds, fish, and other wildlife,” said Dr. Schoen.
“By making the landscape more inviting to wildlife and keeping wildlife from accessing the natural landscape, these plants may help maintain natural balance and biodiversity.”
The research, conducted in collaboration with the National Park Service, involved taking photos of more than 1,000 different species of trees and shrubs and then measuring their conversion rates in the presence of different outdoor lighting types.
In addition to trees and plants that shade, the researchers also studied grasses, mosses and other plants that light up the ground.
When the researchers compared the conversion rates of the trees and other species that were naturally adapted for shade and bright light to those that were not, they found that plants using natural light had the highest percentage of conversion rates.
In contrast, plants that were using natural or synthetic light had conversion rates lower than the rest of the plant.
The results indicate that natural lighting that attracts wildlife can also increase plant diversity and improve habitat for wildlife, the study authors said.
“We believe that these plants are important for providing wildlife with a natural environment that offers a safe and comfortable place to hunt, gather food and drink, and for shelter,” said lead author Dr. Shanna Tait, a doctoral student in environmental engineering.
“We also believe that plants like mosses have a great ability to adapt to the changes in lighting and to provide habitat for other wildlife species.
These results suggest that a natural landscape is an ideal habitat for these species, and they could provide wildlife with some much-needed refuge.”
Dr. Tait and her colleagues suggest that using natural lighting to help restore natural balance in the soil, water, and air can improve wildlife habitat by enhancing biodiversity and providing food for other plants.
In the study, they also studied a variety of other plants, such a bonsai, an invasive species, a shrub, a grass, a tree, and a shrubs that shade the ground, and also a number of plants that create artificial lighting to attract birds and other birds.
They also looked at a number that shade their own leaves to help attract insects.
The findings show that using artificial lighting that promotes wildlife habitat may have more impact than previously thought.
The researchers believe that the natural balance of these plants, and the natural light that they provide, could help restore habitat for animals, which could help conserve biodiversity and promote plant diversity.
“These findings are important to keep in mind as we consider how we can best address habitat fragmentation in our landscapes,” Dr. Tai said.
Dr. Schien said that the research highlights how important plants and animals are in the ecosystem.
“In the natural world, wildlife and plants are part of the natural system and therefore can have an impact on our overall environment,” he said.
For more information about this research, visit the U-M Department of Geography website at:http://umich.edu/migratory-research/research/outdoor-lighting-in-the-woods/