Urban woodlands supply habitat for resident and migratory birds and many other animals, and provide aesthetic enjoyment, biological carbon sinks, air and water purification, and numerous other ecological services.
Yet urban woodlands tend to be small, fragmented, and close to conventionally landscaped yards, making them especially vulnerable to degradation from exotic invasive plants. Indeed, ~85% of woody invasive species come from the landscaping trade. The urban woodlands in Bloomington, Indiana are heavily invaded by such invasive plants, with correspondingly low biodiversity of native plant species and reduced habitat diversity for the native insects, birds, and other species that have coevolved with native plant species.
In 2010, an interdisciplinary team of faculty, students, and professionals from the campus and community pooled their knowledge and skills to research, restore, and educate about urban woodlands. The project was kicked off by an Indiana University Office of Sustainability Research Development Grant for Dunn’s Woods in 2010, and expanded to Latimer Woods in 2012 with additional support from the National Audubon Society and Toyota’s TogetherGreen Innovation Grant Program.
We invite you to navigate our site 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
- Removing invasive species and planting the woodlands with a variety of native wildflowers, grasses, and ferns.
- 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.
Our team involves diverse experts at Indiana University and in the conservation profession. Key community partners include the local invasive species task force, Monroe County Identify and Reduce Invasive Species (MC-IRIS); Sassafrass Audubon Society (SAS), and the City of Bloomington Department of Parks and Recreation.