Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 71.55
Liaison Kelsey Beal
Submission Date Jan. 18, 2024

STARS v2.2

Indiana University Bloomington
OP-10: Biodiversity

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Michael Chitwood
Property Manager
Research and Teaching Preserve
"---" 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 IU Research and Teaching Preserve owns land adjacent to the small portion of the City of Bloomington Griffy Nature Preserve that is designated by the DNR as a Nature Preserve.

Please consult page 37 of the 2008 City of Bloomington Griffy Nature Preserve management plan to find more details.

The regions of highest conservation importance in the RTP Griffy Woods Preserve is primarily the network of intermittent streams and valleys that create the watershed for the Sycamore Valley riparian zone, as well as the University and Griffy Lake.

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:
Bald Eagle, Special Concern
American woodcock, Special Concern
Eastern Whip-poor-will, Special Concern
Timber Rattlesnake, State Endangered
Rough Greensnake, Special Concern
Eastern Box Turtle, Special Concern
Yellow Lady Slipper, Rare/Uncommon, Watch List
Trailing Arbutus, Rare/Uncommon, Imperiled in State

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:
At Dunns Woods, an urban woodlot at the center of campus, the following species of conservation concern have been identified by the Bloomington Urban Woodlands Project Student Organization:
Cerulean Warbler (breeder)
Solitary Sandpiper (migrant)
Red-headed Woodpecker (breeder)
Wood Thrush (breeder)
Blue-winged Warbler (likely breeder in nearby area)
Prairie Warbler (breeder - in adjacent area)
Prothonotary Warbler (likely breeder)
Worm-eating Warbler (breeder)
Louisiana Waterthrush (breeder)
Kentucky Warbler (breeder)
Yellow-billed Cuckoo (likely breeder)
Chimney Swift (likely nearby breeder)
Northern Flicker (likely breeder)
Eastern Wood-Pewee (likely breeder)
Eastern Kingbird (breeder)
White-eyed Vireo (likely breeder)
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (breeder)
Eastern Towhee (likely breeder)
Field Sparrow (likely nearby breeder)
Orchard Oriole (likely breeder)

At the Research and Teaching Preserve, the following environmentally sensitive areas have been identified:
The perennial stream that runs through Sycamore Valley feeds into Griffy Lake, which is the backup water supply for the City of Bloomington. There are also a series of valleys that feed directly into Griffy Lake, and one in particular that abuts the section of the City of Bloomington's Griffy Lake Nature Preserve that has been certified by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources as a preservation site.The preserve also houses University Lake (created in 1911 during a university water shortage, but no longer a municipal water source), which discharges eventually into the Sycamore Valley stream. Protecting this water source, encouraging native plants, and monitoring stream health in these areas is of utmost importance for the RTP. The watershed for this area has had increased development in the past 40 years, with many former semi-wooded areas and farms being developed into residential housing. The site has been a long standing location for research, with information on this particular stretch of land going back to the late 1880s, and more recently the presence of the IU Research and Teaching Preserve dating back to 2001.

The methodologies used to identify endangered and vulnerable species and/or areas of biodiversity importance and any ongoing assessment and monitoring mechanisms:
At the IU Research and Teaching Preserve, environmentally sensitive areas are selected based on: quality of habitat, topography, soil makeup, flora and fauna distributions, invasive species present, cultural and historical significance, and ecosystem services provided. We are currently in the progress of developing a zoning program that will pinpoint, categorize, and centralize various GIS data points and polygons into a zoning map that will be used to create more detailed reports for each individual zone of the property and will be one of the key components utilized in the development of the up and coming management report for the RTP network. Weirs are monitored around the watershed for Sycamore Valley, along with a broad crested weir within the Sycamore Valley stream. Data is collected at a small weather station about the flow of the streams utilizing pressure transducers. There are also regular chemical and biological assessments of the stream utilizing the Indiana Department of Environmental Management Riverwatch Monitoring protocol. University Lake is sampled twice a year by IU limnology courses.

A brief description of the scope of the assessment(s):
The Research and Teaching Preserve plans to continue to collect data into the foreseeable future to improve and update our classification of areas deemed to be sensitive. Many of our datasets now hold over a decade of knowledge. Staff continue to collect information on sittings of plants and wildlife, research plot location, research progress, restoration areas, and invasive removal. This data is often processed utilizing ARC GIS, and backed up utilizing cloud-based storage. We also utilize the State Data Portal for GIS data to ensure we have up-to-date elevation contour data, soil, and aerial photography in our maps. The Midwest Herbaria’s database is used to keep our plant records up to date and accurate along with helping us to locate potential sites of plant populations based on historical data. This will continue to be a crucial part of the Preserve Manager and Assistant Manager positions and is backed by the operational budget of the preserve.

The preserve will continue to utilize our partnerships with various student groups and courses, the Geological Survey, IU & Midwest Herbarium, Archeology Department, Biology Department, and the O’Neill School for Public and Environmental Affairs to encourage projects that bring forth relevant and crucial information to help support our classifications and meet research goals. A recent survey by the Glen Black Lab in the Archeology Department provided insight into the cultural significance of our Griffy Property and shed light on evidence of Native American activity in the Sycamore Valley. The Limnology courses that sample University Lake semi-annually brought forth evidence that recent management efforts of our land and the neighboring IU Golf Course has greatly improved the water quality of University Lake. We hope that continued presence of our field station at this property will attract new research projects that will continue to expand our knowledge of the site and build upon previously developed baseline datasets.

The continued efforts by preserve staff to archive and maintain detailed records of research activity will ensure that our current foundation of knowledge is not lost. All records have been digitized and are held in folders made accessible to the research community on request utilizing cloud-based storage. We have also been working with IU Archives to transition data into the IU Libraries Database to preserve information for future generations.

A brief description of the plans or programs in place to protect or positively affect identified species, habitats, and/or ecosystems:
Ongoing habitat restoration in the 10-acre campus woodland Dunn’s Woods helps to provide supplementary habitat for woodpeckers and songbirds identified as Species of Conservation Concern. Restoration work includes removal of woody and herbaceous invasive plant species (hand pulling, herbicide) and planting of native woodland perennials and fruiting shrubs.


At the Research and Teaching Preserve: Along with our continued monitoring of this property, we are continuously trying to remove invasive shrubs (mostly Asian Bush Honeysuckle and Autumn Olive) that are constantly encroaching along the edges of the preserve and have some previously established populations along the watershed. Special focus has been put on hand pulling and careful removal of these shrubs to protect sites from erosion, rather than utilizing herbicides in these sensitive areas. Efforts were started roughly 7 years ago, with many sites now seeing native shrubs and trees re-establishing in previously invaded areas.

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:

Data source(s) and notes about the submission:
Information on the RTP: Michael Chitwood
Information on Dunns Woods: Heather Reynolds

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 or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.