Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 67.77
Liaison Andrew Porter
Submission Date March 6, 2020

STARS v2.2

University of Cincinnati
OP-10: Biodiversity

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Daniel Hart
Sustainability Coordinator
Planning + Design + Construction
"---" 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 University of Cincinnati owns and manages two sites that are pertinent to this study. First, the Harris M. Benedict Nature Preserve (aka Hazelwood Botanical Preserve) is 66 acres of preserved and protected forest in the Cincinnati Metro region that was first inventoried and studied by John Gustav Segelken 1926-1929, and featured in his thesis, "The Plant Ecology of the Hazelwood Botanical Preserve". The woods are located on the Illinoisian till plain with soils consisting primarily of Rossmoyne silt loam. Native plants at the site include rare orchids and relatively unique species presumably introduced to this site thousands of years ago by the advancing and retreating glaciers. Because of its unique biological diversity, the property was recognized as a registered National Natural Landmark by the Department of the Interior in 1974. A second site managed by the university is the University of Cincinnati Center for Field Studies, located approximately 21 miles to the west of the main campus in Harrison, OH. This site consist of former agricultural fields, a restored wetland and prairie, and a Shaker farm that is now maintained by the College of Arts and Sciences as a research station and educational facility. Rare birds, crayfish, and a frog species are found at this site.

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:

The Benedict Preserve has been periodically surveyed, including historical surveys in 1929, 1984, and 2010 along the same transects, as well as extensive plots throughout the preserve starting in 2007. The site is primarily a beech-maple-tulip poplar forest containing rare species, such as the putty root orchid, marsh marigold, and striped wintergreen. In addition, land that is part of the University of Cincinnati Center for Field Studies in Harrison, Ohio has a creek in which the rare brown crayfish has been found and the Gray Treefrog nearby. Many different migratory fowl also visit the site, including the following species:
Little Blue Heron - rare at UC Field Station, but not in many areas of its range
Least Bittern
Bald Eagle
Northern Harrier
Ruffed Grouse
Northern Bobwhite
Virginia Rail
King Rail
American Woodcock - because of rangewide population declines
*Some shorebirds during fall migration, such as American Avocet, Whimbrel, and Black-necked Stilt, so depends on when birding, season, etc.
Upland Sandpiper
Barn Owl
Eastern Whip-poor-will
Red-headed Woodpecker
Horned Lark - has virtually disappeared due to sprawl and fragmentation in the area
Sedge Wren
Cerulean Warbler
Golden-winged Warbler - migration only
Worm-eating Warbler - but not rangewide
Kentucky Warbler
Lark Sparrow
Henslow's Sparrow

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:

The University of Cincinnati recognizes the critical role that the built environment can play in working towards supporting biodiversity and vulnerable habitats. On the Uptown campus proper, carefully planning is given to ensure that the campus’s built and natural environment is working to support biodiversity and local habitat. Taking into account that the UC campus is located in Uptown Cincinnati, a very urban area, although there are not particularly critical sensitive habitats on the campus proper, the landscape of the campus does influence biodiversity, and efforts to promote biodiversity are given through the incorporation of multi-functional green infrastructure and natural areas. In an additional effort to improve biodiversity on campus, UC’s Landscape Architect has conducted a quantitative tree mapping analysis in order to assess how future landscape and construction projects in the built environment can support the health of the land base.

UC also has two special pieces of land that provide important ecosystem services, one of these sites is the Hazelwood Preserve and the Center for Field Studies. In 1977, the US Department of the Interior designated the 65 acre Hazelwood Preserve as a National Natural Landmark for research on deciduous forests. Both the Hazelwood Preserve and the Center for Field Studies serve as nature preserves that offer opportunities for education and research. The Center for Field Studies, through the College of Arts and Sciences, serves as an educational and research center that exists on a 17.6 acre site of land where in ecological restoration through encouraging native meadows and promoting pollinator habitat takes place in addition to servicing as a living laboratory.

Additionally, UC also has two designated pollinator sites on its campus. In 2019, the UC Soiled Hands Learning Garden and a section of UC's Victory Parkway Campus registered with the Cincinnati Zoo as a partner for Plant for Pollinators. Through this, UC is committed to providing vital habitat for pollinators by adding pollinator-friendly plants to our landscapes.

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

As part of the physcial inventory and as an active research site for faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences, the assessment and monitoring of the flora and fauna at the Benedict Nature Preserve is critical and carried out approximately every 3 years. Methods include quadrants placed along historical transects, surveys of 30m x 30m plots, and herb and tree surveys within circles of 15m diameter. Data has been and continues to be reported through published papers in the peer-reviewed literature. The Land at the UC Center for Field Studies is often assessed as part of undergraduate and teacher courses at the site, primarily during the summer.

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

This assessments are carried out periodically to examine the effect of the urban gradient on vegetation in natural areas within an urban matrix.

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

The Benedict Preserve property, which is owned by the State of Ohio (as an asset of the University of Cincinnati) is protected as a National Landmark under the auspices of the National Park Service. It is actively managed by faculty within the Department of Biological Sciences, as it has been since it was obtained in 1928. The UC Center for Field Studies occupies a parcel of land leased from Great Parks of Hamilton County, Ohio for $1 per year for 99 years, with the understanding that the university will maintain its biological and cultural diversity.

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:

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.