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Indiana University

Dunn's Woods Restoration and Education Project
Trout Lily and Spring Beauty are among the native spring wildflowers that grow in Dunn's Woods.




About the Project:

This project brings together faculty, students, and community groups in an integrated program of research, teaching and outreach focused on mitigation of exotic invasive plant species and promotion of native biodiversity in Indiana University Bloomington’s iconic Dunn’s Woods.

Dunn’s Woods is an ~130-year old,10-acre deciduous woodland situated at the heart of Indiana University’s Bloomington campus. Once part of the Dunn family farm, the area was likely once pastureland for cattle and hogs, and parts were quarried for limestone used in campus buildings. The University purchased the woods in 1883. Archival photos show a park-like state that was gradually allowed to return to more natural woodland. The woods are now host to a diverse spring ephemeral wildflower community and numerous species of birds, including a nesting pair of Cooper’s hawks, Yellow-throated Warblers, and vireos. This biodiversity is threatened by numerous exotic invasive plant species, especially the evergreen groundcover Purple Wintercreeper, that have invaded the woods.

Perhaps the fundamental threat to habitat biodiversity is a lack of human understanding and appreciation of the many life-supporting and life-enhancing services that diverse ecosystems provide, and of the myriad ecological connections that tie all species, including humans, together. The sensibility of place, including the sense of connectedness to the community of life, encompasses both cultural and natural dimensions.

Our project therefore aims to restore both the woods and people’s sense of place and understanding of ecological connections. Through our research, teaching, and outreach activities, we want to provide students and the greater community with the information and skills to make life choices that promote the biodiversity of their home, work, and community landscapes.

Visit our History, Ecology, and Education & Outreach pages to learn more about our ongoing work:

  • Researching the history of Dunn’s Woods and the surrounding landscape
  • Monitoring research plots to track the ecological interactions between invasive plants and the native woodland community, and to develop best practices for removing invasive species and establishing native woodland species
  • Engaging in outreach activities with university courses, student groups, and the local community. These activities include invasive species pulls, native plantings, and the development of educational materials such as signage, this website, brochures, and films.