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Natural Space and Human Reaction

The invasive species Tamarix is the major focus of restoration efforts in riparian systems in the western United States. While Tamarix is ecologically harmful, it may still be seen as desirable by the public due to its aesthetically pleasing flowers. It has also been well established that nature that is perceived as aesthetic or biodiverse has a positive effect on human health. It is therefore possible that plant communities that aren’t ecologically beneficial (such as invaded ecosystems) are still perceived as desirable by people and thus positive for mental health. This research project focuses on the relationship between ecological wellness, aesthetics, and psychological well-being. We will use a digital survey administered to undergraduate students to see the effects of perceived biodiversity on human health as measured by mood, heart rate and self-nature interconnectedness. It is hypothesized that perceived biodiversity is positively correlated with self-nature interconnectedness and positive mood, and that this will be independent of whether the ecosystem is actually biodiverse from a scientific perspective. The findings of this study will contribute to our understanding of why nature improves human health.