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February 10, 2023

SFC Professors Publish Paper on the Benefits of Converting Lawns Into Meadows

St. Francis College students Paula Luna (left) and Jurneal Jules collect soil samples from a lawn that has been converted into a meadow (photo above) and from a suburban lawn (photo below) to conduct follow-up work on soil chemistry.

Assistant professors of biology Michael Tessler and Emily Herstoff are the lead authors of a scientific paper that was published earlier this month in the journal Microbial Ecology. Titled “Rewilding in Miniature: Suburban Meadows Can Improve Soil Microbial Biodiversity and Soil Health,” the paper is on small-scale conservation.

“This is a big movement in the United States to convert lawns into meadows to help promote biodiversity; however, not much science has been done on the topic, aside from looking at pollinators,” explained Tessler, who also is a research associate at the American Museum of Natural History.

Tessler, Herstoff and their colleagues examined microbial diversity (by sequencing DNA from the soil) and soil chemistry to compare lawns and lawns that had been converted into meadows. “The microbes and chemistry both appear to benefit from meadows, which is great news for this mini-conservation movement,” said Tessler.

Tessler and Herstoff are currently conducting follow-up research in this area with St. Francis College students. As their scientific paper states: “There are notable — positive — shifts in microbial and chemical compositions within meadows, indicating that meadow restoration benefits biodiversity and soil health.”

Lawn soil sampling

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