To gauge whether people "like what they say they want," Gough said he and Yousef Zadegan, an MSU assistant professor in landscape design, have posted an on-line survey with photos of native Montana plants and landscaping scenes with both native and non-native plants. Viewers are asked to gauge their familiarity with the various plants, trees and shrubs, and are asked to choose which landscapes they prefer. Some use traditional plants; others use native plants.
The Web-based survey will help the researchers assist businesses and homeowners landscape with native plants and restore biodiversity.
"The results should enable us to develop guidelines for growers and nurseries for the production and marketing of native plants," said Zadegan. "We will also prepare design guidelines and recommendations for the landscape industry and other agencies that plan, authorize and monitor naturalization projects."
Zadegan said that, in addition to providing valuable research data, the survey is a teaching tool for people interested in identifying such native Montana plants as Wood's rose, arrowleaf balsamroot, harebells and Rocky Mountain iris. The site includes photos, attributes and prices for common trees, shrubs and perennials.
Gough said he believes the native plant survey is the first of its kind at MSU. The survey will be "live" for about one year, then the research results will be distributed through the MSU Extension Service to the landscape industry and the general public. Anyone can access the site and participate in the survey.
Visit http://plantsciences.montana.edu and click on "Native Plants Survey," or go directly to it at http://www2.montana.edu/yzadegan/index.asp. The site, because of its numerous photographs, is best viewed with a high-speed Internet connection.