Overall Rating Reporter
Overall Score
Liaison Olivia Herron
Submission Date May 30, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Austin Peay State University
OP-10: Biodiversity

Status Score Responsible Party
Reporter Wes Powell
Assistant Director-Landscape and Grounds
Physical Plant
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution own or manage land that includes or is adjacent to legally protected areas, internationally recognized areas, priority sites for biodiversity, and/or regions of conservation importance?:

A brief description of the legally protected areas, internationally recognized areas, priority sites for biodiversity, and/or regions of conservation importance:

APSU owns an approximately 500-acre farm located about two miles from campus in Montgomery Co., TN. This farm includes both cattle pastures and other disturbed habitats but also has large areas of forests that buffer the West Fork Red River. This farm is located within the Interior Plateaus Ecoregion, which is noted as a center of endemism for more than 50 species of vascular plants, dozens of fish and mussels (some of the latter have been declared extinct), and unique cave fauna such as blind crayfish and numerous cave invertebrates. The APSU farm contains a couple of caves which are known to harbor Tennessee Cavefish and other rare species. One particular section of forest contains mature forest and supports three rare species, butternut, American ginseng, and oceanblue phacelia, species all tracked as rare by the Tennessee Division of Natural Areas. Additional rare species of plants are known in adjacent riparian corridor that is a city “blueway”that is a designated greenspace dedicated to canoeing.

APSU also has recently acquired two wetland easements, one in Montgomery Co.about 15 miles from campus and the other in Rutherford Co.about 75 miles from campus. The former site is about 5 acres and the latter site is 60 acres and includes two known rare species.

APSU staff also manage a 15-acre prairie restoration at nearby Dunbar Cave State Park about two miles from APSU’s campus. This includes the most diverse prairie planting ever attempting in Tennessee or Kentucky. The 50 species used in the mix all occur in local prairie remnants at nearby Fort Campbell Army Base and all but about 5 species originate from local seed sources. APSU staff will continue to enhance the richness and diversity of this prairie by continuing to plant an additional 50-100 species over the next five years. This prairie is on the southern edge of what was formerly a 3.7-million-acre prairie system known as the Big Barrens which stretched across western KY and northwestern TN.

The University also is home to the recently established APSU Botanical Garden that was created in 2010. At just 3,000 ft2 the garden is home to 310 species native to the southeastern interior regions of the U.S. representing hotspots such as the Southern Appalachians, Interior Plateaus, and Ozark Plateau. Most of the species are native to rare grassland, glade, and savanna habitats. The garden is home to more than 100 species tracked as rare in Tennessee or one of the surrounding states and is home to five federally-listed species protected under the US Endangered Species Act.

Has the institution conducted an assessment or assessments to identify endangered and vulnerable species (including migratory species) with habitats on institution-owned or –managed land?:

Has the institution conducted an assessment or assessments to identify environmentally sensitive areas on institution-owned or –managed land?:

The methodologies used to identify endangered and vulnerable species and/or environmentally sensitive areas (including most recent year assessed) and any ongoing assessment and monitoring mechanisms:

The APSU Center of Excellence for Field Biology faculty and staff have conducted baseline inventories and students are employed to assist with biodiversity documentation. Also, the APSU Center of Excellence for Field Biology faculty, staff, and students have conducted baseline surveys for environmentally sensitive areas such as rare plant communities, wetlands, old-growth forests, etc.
A floristic survey was performed for each of the sites over the last five years. This includes documentation of all plant species, including rare species and invasive species. A general qualitative assessment was used to check for presence of rare species. At our ongoing prairie restoration site, students and staff along with members of the public are using long-term quantitative vegetation plots to monitor the progress of the restoration. Zoological studies have been focused on the APSU Farm, especially in surveying the West Fork Red River, the mature forest, and two caves.

A brief description of identified species, habitats and/or environmentally sensitive areas:

The APSU Farm includes approximately 20 acres of mature mesic forest dominated by tulip-poplar, sugar maple, black maple, beech, and northern red oak. It also includes two caves which are likely connected to nearby Dunbar Cave State Natural Area via underground channels. The site provides habitat for three state-listed plants (see above) and at least one state-listed animal, the Tennessee Cavefish.

The 60-acre wetland easement in Rutherford Co., TN is part of a large historical wet savanna and there may be plans in the future to restore it using native seed mixes and prescribed fire. It provides habitat for two state-listed wetland plants.

The 15-acre prairie restoration is restoring a globally imperiled grassland type tracked by NatureServe as a rare community. Our seedmix will eventually incorporate about 6-10 rare species which will be grown from seed and introduced to the site, which is just a few miles from existing known populations and on the same soil type.

A brief description of plans or programs in place to protect or positively affect identified species, habitats and/or environmentally sensitive areas:

The University has been made aware of the importance of all these sites to our educational mission as it relates to training new biologists, conservationists, etc. Future efforts will include preparation of site plans, use of prescribed fire to manage the prairie, removal of invasive species from specific high-quality focal areas, removal of brush and trees from the prairie area, harvest of additional native plant seed and propagation of additional native forbs, grasses, sedges, and shrubs to be incorporated into the planting. We will continue to communicate the importance of these to administrators, to the public, to students, and to agencies.

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:

Additional documentation to support the submission:

Dwayne Estes, Ph.D.
Professor of Biology
Austin Peay State University
Dept. of of Biology &
Center of Excellence for Field Biology
PO Box 4718
Clarksville, TN 37044
(931) 221-7771

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.