Extension Publications

5 Ways to Help the Monarchs
The monarch butterfly population in North America has declined by 80% during the past 20 years. This publication includes five ways to help this iconic insect survive and thrive across Iowa and the Midwest.
Aquatic Environments - Iowa's Nature Series
From the ephemeral pool of a prairie pothole to the giant pools of the mighty Mississippi, Iowa's lands are defined by their diverse, and critically important aquatic ecosystems. This article takes a deep dive into the ecology and intrigue of these systems found across the state and discusses the challenges they face and the promises of conservation actions taken there.
Attracting Birds to Your Yard
Learn how to design a backyard oasis for birds by providing essential habitat elements including food, shelter, and water. This publication discusses key considerations for incorporating bird habitat needs into landscape designs by laying out plants that provide shelter or food in a way that mimics the natural habitats of birds. The publication also discusses bird feeding and how to safely attract more birds into view in the backyard by providing the right types of food throughout the year. This publication updates PM 1351D.
Chronic Wasting Disease in Deer
Chronic wasting disease, or CWD, is a neurological disease infecting wild white-tailed deer in Iowa and throughout North America. This article reviews the most relevant and up-to-date scientific information about the disease and provides recommendations for addressing this emerging challenge in Iowa. Learn more about CWD from this video:
Enhancing Monarch Butterfly Conservation in Iowa
While the monarch butterfly is perhaps the most recognizable and iconic insect in North America, their population has declined 80% over the past two decades. This publication discusses a project undertaken by extension and research staff at Iowa State University to demonstrate conservation practices for incorporating monarch breeding habitat across the state of Iowa.
Establishing and Managing Pollinator Habitat on Saturated Riparian Buffers
Conservation practices for water quality and pollinator habitat can be complementary - using some of the same land and resources can multiply ecological benefits for water and wildlife. This publication discusses the ways saturated riparian buffers can be used for planting pollinator habitat. It provides information on site selection, preparation and establishment, management and seed mixes.
Forests - Iowa's Nature Series
The forests of a prairie state like Iowa are unique refugia of biological diversity and important ecological and economical function. This article explores Iowa's forest ecosystems and the critical roles they play in our environment, economy, and quality of life.
Gardening for Butterflies and Pollinators
A butterfly garden can be created as simply as planting a bunch of butterfly-favorite plants in a sunny corner of your yard. Learn about effective butterfly garden characteristics and which host and nectar plants are best for different butterflies.
Influential Voices - Iowa's Nature Series
For as long as the tallgrass prairie blooms have blown in the breeze and the muddy Missouri flowed past its western border, the land we call Iowa has been stewarded and cared for by people. From the diversity of Native cultures that have called this land home to the 20th century advocates who fought for its protection and care amid unprecedented exploitation, thousands of influential voices have fought to protect this land and its diversity.
Invertebrates - Iowa's Nature Series
Asked to picture Iowa's wildlife diversity and many people may think first of vertebrates, rather than the invertebrates who comprise the vast majority of diversity found among the living animals of Iowa's lands and waters! This article features the stories of a few of the thousands of insects, spiders, crustaceans, butterflies, moths, worms, snails, mussels, and leeches found in Iowa, everywhere from our border rivers to our homes.
Iowa Bats
Bats are an important part of Iowa's ecosystem. This infographic provides a look at the different bat species that can be found in Iowa, along with information on their diet, habitat and threats to their survival. Management practices that can preserve bat habitat are also discussed.
Iowa's Forest Birds
Iowa’s forests play host to a spectacular diversity of birds throughout the year. This article explores this diversity, describing how birds feed, nest, and move within and among many different types of forests found in Iowa. The management of forest habitats for birds is explored with recommendations for making the most of any forest parcel for birds and the people that enjoy them.
Landforms and Geology - Iowa's Nature Series
From ocean-front property to spruce forest to today's rich organic prairie soils, Iowa's geological past is a fascinating story that can be told through careful inspection of the land beneath our feet. This article explores the long-view history of Iowa's landscapes and explains how the hills and valleys we call home were formed over millennia.
Mammals of Iowa Field Guide
Iowa has a rich diversity of mammals, ranging in form and function from the one third-of-an-ounce western harvest mouse which summits blades of grass to eat seeds in Iowa’s prairies to the over 1,000 pound bison whose diet shapes the community of grasses on which it grazes. Our fellow mammals enrich the lives of Iowans from city lots to rural farmsteads. Few sights rival that of a flight of bats at dusk on a warm summer evening, the passing flash of a gray fox in the headlights on a night drive, or the beauty of a herd of snow-covered white-tailed deer on a winter day.
Monarch Seed Mix High Diversity
This publication contains a high diversity seed mix developed by the Iowa State University Monarch Research Team for research purposes. All species are perennials native to Iowa.
Northern Bobwhites in Iowa
Northern bobwhites, known simply as “quail” to many, are a charismatic bird that dwells on the margins of diverse farms, fields, and forests of southern Iowa. This article describes the basic needs and behaviors of the bobwhite and offers landowners and managers pointers on how to help ensure the bird continues to thrive in rural Iowa.
Plants - Iowa's Nature Series
From the bur oak tree towering over the savanna to the humble bladderwort, floating untethered in the water of wetlands, Iowa's plants and plant-like organisms are fascinatingly diverse. This article explores that diversity, describing the classification Iowa's plants, the varied places they occur, and the remarkable adaptations they have to life in Iowa.
Prairies - Iowa's Nature Series
Iowa, like no other state in the U.S., is defined by its tallgrass prairies. This article takes a deep dive into those prairie ecosystems, learning about the cast of plants, animals, and people dependent on them and how people today are working to manage and protect this critical ecosystem.
Soils - Iowa's Nature Series
It is widely accepted that Iowa's soils are some of the richest and most productive in the world. But how and why? This article explores those rich soils, how they form, how scientists describe and classify them, and the conservation challenges they face.
State Symbols - Iowa's Nature Series
Some characteristics of Iowa's Nature are so fundamentally Iowan that they've received special designation as such by the state legislature. This article explores those uniquely Iowan symbols including the state bird, tree, flower, and rock along with a sampling of other natural features that define our state and inspire awe in all the diversity found here.
Vertebrates - Iowa's Nature Series
From city sewers to pristine prairies, the reptiles, amphibians, birds, mammals, fish, and lamprey found within Iowa's borders are as diverse and fascinating as the people found there. Members of these varied groups of wildlife are collectively called vertebrates and this article explores all the diverse life history strategies and behaviors demonstrated by Iowa’s non-human vertebrates.
What to Expect: Establishing Prairie Vegetation on Your Farm
This publication informs Iowa farmers and landowners about the process and benefits of establishing small areas of perennial prairie vegetation to benefit soil health, water quality, and wildlife. Establishment of prairie vegetation takes both time and active management—this publication aims to help farmers and landowners set reasonable expectations while sharing consensus best management practices for successful establishment and management.
Windbreaks for Wildlife
Windbreaks provide many benefits to farms such as reducing energy consumption, controlling odor, protecting buildings and livestock from the elements and improving aesthetics. This publication discusses the importance of windbreaks, their design and the best species of trees or shrubs to plant.
Woodworking for Wildlife - Aldo Leopold Bench
This publication provides a simple guide to creating the famous Aldo Leopold bench, which is perfect for observing and studying wildlife. The bench is named for Aldo Leopold, an internationally recognized figure in wildlife conservation and pioneering author and philosopher on environmental ethics and land stewardship. This guide provides materials needed in making the Aldo Leopold bench, as well as step-by-step instructions for construction.
Woodworking for Wildlife - Bat Box
This publication provides a simple guide to creating a backyard box for bats to live in during the spring, summer and fall. The guide provides materials needed in making the bat box, as well as step-by-step instructions for construction.
Woodworking for Wildlife - Blue Bird Box
This publication provides a simple guide to creating a backyard box blue birds to call home. The guide provides materials needed in making the blue bird box, as well as step-by-step instructions for construction.
Woodworking for Wildlife - Wood Duck Box
This publication provides a simple guide to creating a home for wood ducks, emulating their natural nesting locations. The guide provides materials needed in making the wood duck box, as well as step-by-step instructions for construction.