Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 65.28
Liaison Michelle Seppala Gibbs
Submission Date March 3, 2023

STARS v2.2

Hope College
OP-10: Biodiversity

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Michelle Gibbs
Office of Sustainability
"---" 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, 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:

The Hope College Nature Preserve is a beautiful, 59-acre Beech-Maple forest located within the Western Michigan dune ecosystem. It is home to over 40 species of plants, 14 species of mammals, 40 species of birds and hundreds of species of arthropods. The preserve is located approximately five miles from our main campus and 1/4 mile from the Lake Michigan shoreline in Laketown Township, Allegan County. This property adjoins a IBAT IUCN management category V/VI property, and a portion of it is covered by a conservation easement attached to a neighboring property.

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

A list of endangered and vulnerable species with habitats on land owned or managed by the institution, by level of extinction risk:

It is important to point out that we have not surveyed for ALL listed species but that we HAVE encountered several of them during our other activities there.
Hemlock Trees- PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS: Dr. Kathy Winnett-Murray and Dr. Greg Murray and Dr. Vanessa Muilenburg. While this species is not listed as vulnerable, hemlocks are a distinct and recent conservation concern in West Michigan, and that the Hope College Nature Preserve is one of the sites that has been the focus of study in the region.
Ottawa County is the epicenter of a developing invasion of Hemlock Wooly Adelgid (HWA), an exotic aphid-like insect that has already decimated populations of Eastern Hemlock trees in the eastern U.S. and promises to do the same in Michigan. Introduced to the U.S. in 1951, the insect was discovered in the Holland area in 2015 and at the Hope College Nature Preserve in August 2017. Heavily infested hemlocks often decline and die in 4–10 years. Because the understory beneath Eastern Hemlock canopies constitutes a distinctly different microenvironment than that beneath broadleaved trees, HWA-driven defoliation is likely to influence the recruitment and survivorship of tree seedlings on the forest floor. In addition, pronounced canopy defoliation and impacts on throughfall and leaf litter composition may affect communities of leaf litter arthropods beneath hemlock canopies. In turn, both plant species composition and litter decomposition rates may be altered in West Michigan dune forests.
We will assess hemlock condition and HWA establishment at several sites in Ottawa and Allegan County, and compare the density and composition of litter arthropod communities beneath hemlock and adjacent sugar maple canopies. We will also compare light environments, soil temperatures, seedling recruitment and photosynthetic rates of woody seedlings beneath hemlock and sugar maple canopies throughout the entire growing season, since the effects of Eastern Hemlock on the understory light environment are most pronounced before broadleaved trees leaf out in the spring. The proposed study will add to our understanding of how insect pests can exert major direct and indirect influences on forest ecosystems by altering the physical structure of the environment.

Has the institution conducted an assessment to identify areas of biodiversity importance on land owned or managed by the institution?:

A brief description of areas of biodiversity importance on land owned or managed by the institution:

As part of the work of the TreeSap community collaborative project and the Hope College Landscape Committee nearly every tree on our campus has been inventoried and assessed for importance. https://hope.edu/offices/sustainability/holland-hope-college-sustainability-institute/trees/ and

The following is a listing of some of the identified species at the Nature Preserve. A full list can be found at: http://www.hope.edu/academics/biology/facilities-classrooms/ under the "Nature Preserve" section.
Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)
Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus)
Red Maple (Acer rubrum)
Black Maple (Acer nigrum)
Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum)
Hop-hornbeam (Ostrya virginiana)
Yellow Birch (Betula alleghaniensis)
Speckled Alder (Alnus rugosa)
Alternate-leaved Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia)
Red Oak (Quercus rubra)
White Oak (Quercus alba)
American Beech (Fagus grandifolia)
Witch-hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)
Sassafras (Sassafras albidum)
White Ash (Fraxinus americana)
Black Cherry (Prunus serotina)
Downy Serviceberry, Juneberry (Amelanchier arborea)
Basswood (Tilia americana)
Spicebush (Lindera benzoin)
Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii)
Winterberry, or Michigan Holly (Ilex verticillata)
Buttonbush (Cephalanthus)
Mapleleaf Viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium)

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)
Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)
Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)
American Coot (Fulica americana)
Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)
Barred Owl (Strix varia)
Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor)
Chimney Swift (Chaetura pelagica)
Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)
Common Flicker (Colaptes auratus)
Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus)
Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus)
Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus)
Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus)
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)
Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)
Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor)
White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)
Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis)
Brown Creeper (Certhia familiaris)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula)
Golden-crowned Kinglet (Regulus satrapa)
Gray Catbird (Dumatella carolinensis)
Swainson's Thrush (Catharus ustulatus)
Veery (Catharus fuscescens)
Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina)
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)
Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)
Canada Warbler (Wilsonia canadensis)
Hooded Warbler (Wilsonia citrina)
Northern Waterthrush (Seiurus noveboracensis)
Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapillus)
Palm warbler (Setophaga palmarum)
Black-throated Green Warbler (Setophaga virens)
Northern Oriole (Icterus galbula)
Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea)
Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)
Indigo bunting (Passerina cyanea)

The methodologies used to identify endangered and vulnerable species and/or areas of biodiversity importance and any ongoing assessment and monitoring mechanisms:

The preserve is invaluable to ecological research and teaching in the biology department at Hope College. Each year several hundred Hope students utilize the site for hands-on, course-based research. Additionally, several faculty members maintain long-term research projects on the preserve that continue to foster student-faculty collaborative research projects. The methodologies used to identify endangered or vulnerable species and areas of biodiversity were mostly ancillary to casual observations by faculty members and community members who reported their observations back to a faculty member.

A brief description of the scope of the assessment(s):

Each year several hundred Hope students utilize the site for hands-on, course-based research. Additionally, several faculty members maintain long-term research projects on the preserve that continue to foster student-faculty collaborative research projects.

A systematic survey of campus trees included 20x20m tree plots at the Nature Preserve. Dr Greg Murray started surveying those in 1995 for all stems 10cm DBH or greater. To date, about 85 of those quadrats have been censused at least once, and many of them have been censused several times in order to collect growth and mortality data on the tree species. Even more of the property (probably about 80% of it) has been censused for the Eastern Hemlocks. These have been mapped, measured (DBH), and assessed for reproductive status and HWA infestation. Additionally, there are a number of juvenile hemlocks that we established on the HCNP about 2013 that we are monitoring for survival and growth.

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

The students and faculty of the Department of Biology are passionate about our responsibility to protect and manage the property wisely, both for the sake of the college’s academic program and because even small parcels of natural habitat are important repositories of biological diversity. Our species list grows yearly as we explore the property more fully. Unfortunately, it is clear that this property already suffers from many threats (see below), and that these will become more severe as suburban development increasingly isolates the site from larger parcels of natural habitat in the future. One of our most important long-term goals is to use the nature preserve to understand how small parcels of land can best be managed for the maintenance of their biological diversity and the ecosystem services they provide.
To help protect the area, hunting, camping, horseback riding, off-road vehicle use, mountain biking and cross-country skiing are strictly prohibited. Similarly, collecting plants, timber (previously fallen or otherwise) or animals (including insects) is strictly forbidden. Violators of these policies have been and will continue to be prosecuted for trespassing.
Bird-watching and other non-destructive nature study by persons other than Hope College faculty and students are permitted, but only with written permission of the biology department. Any dogs accompanying visitors to the preserve must be on a leash.

Estimated percentage of areas of biodiversity importance that are also protected areas :

Website URL where information about the institution’s biodiversity initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

Question: Estimated percentage of areas of biodiversity importance that are also protected areas
Approximately 6.5% (3.8 acres) of the Hope College Nature Preserve is protected by a conservation easement held by the Land Conservancy of West Michigan.

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