Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Meghann Jarchow


As urban areas are expanding with the growing size of human population, it is increasingly important to understand the role that residential yards can play in biodiversity conservation because they often comprise a large proportion of green spaces in cities. Most of the research performed to date on the role of residential yards in biodiversity conservation has been conducted in large cities. The role of residential yards in biodiversity conservation in small cities is still largely unknown. In this research, I discuss the relationship between biodiversity and the structure of green space, public attitudes towards the presence of wildlife, public support for wildlife in their yard, land sharing in residential yards for biodiversity conservation and the spatial variation in land sharing perceptions across Vermillion, a small city in South Dakota. I used an online questionnaire to conduct this research and the participants’ responses were analyzed by studying the correlation coefficients among variables. Vermillion residents with larger yards that had more trees and more taxa of trees reported seeing more mammal taxa in the yards. Residents who had yards with more trees, that had more taxa of trees and that had a water source for wildlife saw a larger number of bird taxa, whereas property size, yard size and the amount of paved area did not appear to affect the number of bird taxa observed in the yards. Residents who had larger yards reported seeing more reptile taxa than residents with smaller yards, whereas having more paved areas in their property was associated with seeing fewer reptile taxa. Also, I found that more than 85% of participants agreed that it was desirable to share their yards with wildlife. Moreover, when asked whether they are willing to support biodiversity conservation in Vermillion, none of participants disagreed and most (87%) of them either agreed or strongly agreed, and this strong support did not vary spatially across Vermillion. According to this research, participants were willing to support biodiversity through sharing their residential yards with specific wildlife taxa.

Subject Categories




Number of Pages



University of South Dakota

Available for download on Wednesday, October 16, 2024