Honors Theses and Capstones

Date of Award

Summer 2022

Project Type

Senior Honors Thesis

College or School



Natural Resources and the Environment

Program or Major

Environmental and Resource Economics

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

First Advisor

Kelly Giraud

Second Advisor

John Halsted


Increasing populations in New England and the subsequent residential development associated with this growth has had profound impacts on local ecosystems. Residential development often results in habitat loss and fragmentation (Radeloff et al, 2009). Habitat fragmentation, or dividing habitat into smaller, less dense parts, can induce the decline of local populations of native species and interrupt vital ecosystem services. Important services offered by functioning ecosystems include carbon sequestration, flood reduction, and water purification. It has been shown that benefits can be restored to local ecosystems through strategies to restore ecosystem functions (Burghardt et al, 2008). On an individual household scale, landscaping using native plants rather than non-native ornamentals may help restore ecosystem function and habitat for native species (Nassauer, 1997). Native plants benefit the species that have coevolved in this region and reduce the strain of habitat fragmentation (Fusco et al., 2018). Unfortunately, education and awareness of the benefits of landscaping with native plants is currently low (Giraud, 2019). Nonprofits such as Native Plant Trust, Rohdy Native Grow, Native Massachusetts, and The Coastal Maine Botanical Garden currently offer classes to educate landowners on how they can use their land to suit their own needs and benefit local ecosystems. This research aims to be informative for these organizations, helping them understand the characteristics of demand for their classes. During the summer of 2018, a total of 2,033 private landowners across the 6 New England states (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont) completed an online survey regarding their land cover, past efforts and future willingness to restore wildlife habitat on their private land. The survey unveiled a diversity of interest in landscaping with native plants.

Available for download on Saturday, June 01, 2024