Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 66.51
Liaison Aurora Sharrard
Submission Date Feb. 28, 2021

STARS v2.2

University of Pittsburgh
OP-10: Biodiversity

Status Score Responsible Party
2.00 / 2.00 Samantha Ford
Sustainability Projects Coordinator
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 University of Pittsburgh's Pymatuning Laboratory of Ecology was founded on Sanctuary Lake (a protected waterway) in 1949. Both the Pymatuning Laboratory and its associated researcher housing are on the shores of Pymatuning Lake surrounded by Pymatuning State Park.

On April 19, 2017, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC) announced the protection and addition of 18 acres of land in Crawford County, Pennsylvania, to preserve one of the most ecologically important forested areas in the region. These acres are now part of the Tryon-Weber Woods Natural Area, which is managed by Pymatuning Lab.

Tryon-Weber Woods Natural Area is a remote 108-acre reserve open to the public for nature walking, exploring, and hunting. Protected since May 1976, the natural area consists primarily of upland forest and a small stream valley with hillsides flecked with trillium, violets, bellwort, and wild geranium in Spring. A tributary to the stream enters from the East -- and along the southern border there are some forested wetlands, including vernal pools that provide temporary habitat for some unique plants and animals.

Tryon-Weber Woods Natural Area also contains a 40-acre stand of old-growth American beech-sugar maple forest -- thought to be the last remaining mature stand of beech-sugar maple in Western Pennsylvania and the easternmost stand in the national range. Accordingly, these woods were recently incorporated into the national Old-Growth Forest Network, which recognizes the locations of and organizations from across the country that protect these special forest types. Some of the trees in this forest are around 100 feet tall and at least 90 to 120 years old.

For a map of the area described above visit: https://www.ple.pitt.edu/sites/default/files/Maps/property_map.pdf

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:


Common Name- Scientific name (level of extinction risk)

Multiflora rose-Rosa multiflora (Least concern)
American hophornbeam - Ostrya virginiana (Least concern)
Apple - Malus sp. (Least concern)
Arrowhead viola - Viola hastata (Least concern)
Black cohosh - Actaea racemose (Near threatened)
Ash - Fraxinus sp. (Endangered)
American beech - Fagus americana (Least concern)
Perfoliated bellwort - Uvularia perfoliate (Least concern, but endangered in other states)
Blueberry - Vaccinium sp. (Least concern)
Black birch - Betula lenta (Least concern)
Black cherry - Prunus serotina (Least concern)
Blackgum - Nyssa sylvatica (Least concern)
Buttercup - Ranunculus sp. (Least concern)
American cancer-root - Conopholis americana (Least concern but threatened/vulnerable in other states)
Cherry - Prunus sp. (Least concern)
Christmas fern - Polystichum acrostichoides (Least concern)
Cinnamon fern Osmunda cinnamomea (Least concern)
Cleaver - Galium sp. (Least concern)
Clubmoss - Huperzia lucidula (Least concern)
Gooseberry- Ribes sp. (Least concern)
Flowering dogwood - Cornus florida (Least concern, but vulnerable in other states)
American elm - Ulmus americana (Endangered)
False Solomon's seal - Maianthemum racemosum (Least concern)
Garlic mustard - Alliaria petiolate (Least concern)
Grapevine - Vitis sp. (Least concern)
Grass – Poaceae (Least concern)
Hawthorne - Crataegus sp. (Least concern)
Hay-scented fern - Dennstaedtia punctilobula (Least concern)
Hickory Carya sp. (Least concern)
Jewelweed- Impatiens capensis (Least concern)
Jack-in-the-pulpit - Arisaema triphyllum (Least concern)
Japanese barberry - Barberis thunbergia (Least concern)
Common clubmoss - Lycopodium clavatum (Least concern)
Mapleleaf viburnum - Viburnum acerifolium (Least concern)
Mayapple - Podophyllum peltatum (Least concern)
Canada maylilly - Maianthemum canadense (Least concern)
Cucumber magnolia - Magnolia acuminata (Least concern)
New York fern - Thelypteris noveboracensis (Least concern)
Devil's walkingstick - Aralia spinosa (Least concern)
Partridgeberry - Mitchella repens (Least concern)
Poplar - Populus sp. (Least concern)
Broad-leaved plantain- Plantago rugelii (Least concern)
Poison ivy - Toxicodendron radicans (Least concern)
Red maple - Acer rubrum (Least concern)
Red oak - Quercus rubra (Least concern)
Raspberry - Rubus sp. (Least concern)
Sassafras - Sassafras albidum (Least concern)
Sedge- Cyperaceae (Least concern)
Sensitive fern - Onoclea sensibilis (Least concern)
Serviceberry - Amelanchier sp. (Least concern)
Sessile bellwort - Uvularia sessilifolia (Least concern)
Solomon's seal - Polygonatum pubescens (Least concern)
Spicebush - Lindera benzoin (Least concern)
Sugar maple - Acer saccharum (Least concern)
Trillium (at least 3 species)- Trillium spp. (Threatened)
Tulip poplar- Liriodendron tulipifera (Least concern)
Canada white violet - Viola canadensis (Vulnerable)
Roundleaf yellow violet - Viola rotundifolia (Least concern)
Common blue violet - Viola sororia (Least concern)
Virginia creeper - Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Least concern)
White oak - Quercus alba (Least concern)
American witch hazel - Hamamelis virginiana (Least concern)
Wood fern - Dryopteris sp. (Least concern)
Fourleaved yam - Dioscorea quaternate (Least concern)
Eastern Newt - Notophthalmys viridescens (Least concern)
Northern Dusky Salamander - Desmognathus fuscus (Least concern)
Mountain Dusky Salamander - Desmognathus ochrophaeum (Least concern)
Northern Two Lined Salamander - Eurycea bislaneata (Least concern)
Redback Salamander - Plethodon cinereus (Least concern)
Slimy Salamander - Plethodon glutinosis (Least concern)
Northern Red Salamander - Pseudotriton ruber (Least concern)
Wood Frog - Lithobates sylvaticus (Least concern)
Spring peeper - Pseudacris crucifer (Least concern)
Green frog - Lithobates clamitans (Least concern)
Eastern American Toad - Anaxyrus americanus (Least concern)
Four-toed Salamander - Hemidactylium scutatum (Near threatened)
Spring Salamander- Gyrinophilus porphyriticus (Least concern)
Spotted Salamander - Ambystoma maculatum (Least concern)
Fowler's Toad - Anaxyrus fowleri (Near threatened)
Gray Treefrog - Dryophytes versicolor (Least concern)
Wood Duck - Aix sponsa (Least concern)
Wild Turkey - Meleagris gallopavo (Least concern)
Turkey Vulture - Cathartes aura (Least concern)
Red-tailed Hawk - Buteo jamaicensis (Least concern)
Red-shouldered Hawk- Buteo lineatus (Least concern)
Mourning Dove- Zenaida macroura (Least concern)
Yellow-billed Cuckoo- Coccyzus americanus (Near threatened)
Black-billed Cuckoo - Coccyzus erythropthalmus (Least concern)
Eastern Screech-Owl - Megascops asio (Least Concern)
Great Horned Owl - Bubo virginianus (Least concern)
Barred Owl - Strix varia (Least concern)
Chimney Swift - Chaetura pelagica (Near threatened)
Ruby-throated Hummingbird - Archilocus colubris (Least concern)
Red-bellied Woodpecker - Melanerpes carolinus (Least concern)
Downy Woodpecker - Picoides pubescens (Least concern)
Hairy Woodpecker - Picoides villosus (Least concern)
Northern Flicker - Colaptes auratus (Least concern)
Pileated Woodpecker - Dryocopus pileatus (Least concern)
Eastern Wood Pewee - Contopus virens (Least concern)
Acadian Flycatcher - Empidonax virescens (Least concern)
Eastern Phoebe - Sayornis phoebe (Least concern)
Great Crested Flycatcher - Myiarchus crinitus (Least concern)
Blue-headed Vireo - Vireo solitarius (Least concern)
Red-eyed Vireo - Vireo olivaceus (Least concern)
Blue Jay - Cyanocitta cristata (Least concern)
American Crow - Corvus brachyrhynchos (Least concern)
Black-capped Chickadee - Poecile atricapilla (Least concern)
Tufted Titmouse - Baeolophus bicolor (Least concern)
White-breasted Nuthatch - Sitta carolinensis (Least concern)
Brown Creeper - Certhia americana (Least concern)
House Wren - Troglodytes aedon (Least concern)
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher - Polioptila caerulea (Least concern)
Wood Thrush - Hylocichla mustelina (Near threatened)
Veery - Catharus fuscescens (Least concern)
Swainson’s Thrush - Catharus ustulatus (Least concern)
American Robin - Turdus migratorius (Least concern)
Gray Catbird - Dumetella carolinensis (Least concern)
Brown Thrasher - Toxostoma rufum (Least concern)
European Starling - Sturnus vulgaris (Least concern)
Cedar Waxwing - Bombycilla cedrorum (Least concern)
Ovenbird - Seiurus aurocapillus (Least concern)
Louisiana Waterthrush - Parkesia motacilla (Least concern)
Black-and-white Warbler - Mniotilta varia (Least concern)
Blue-winged Warbler - Vermivora pinus (Least concern)
Tennessee Warbler - Oreothlypis peregrina (Least concern)
Nashville Warbler - Oreothlypis ruficapilla (Least concern)
Hooded Warbler - Setophaga citrina (Least concern)
American Redstart - Setophaga ruticilla (Least concern)
Black-throated Blue Warbler - Setophaga caerulescens (Least concern)
Magnolia Warbler - Setophaga magnolia (Least concern)
Blackburnian Warbler - Setophaga fusca (Least concern)
Yellow Warbler - Setophaga petechia (Least concern)
Yellow-rumped Warbler - Setophaga coronate (Least concern)
Chestnut-sided Warbler - Setophaga pensylvanica (Least concern)
Black-throated Green Warbler - Setophaga virens (Low concern)
Blackpoll Warbler - Setophaga striata (Near threatened)
Eastern Towhee - Pipilo erythrophthalmus (Least concern)
Chipping Sparrow - Spizella passerine (Least concern)
Song Sparrow - Melospiza melodia (Least concern)
Northern Cardinal - Cardinalis cardinalis (Least concern)
Scarlet Tanager - Piranga olivacea (Least concern)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak - Pheucticus ludovicianus (Least concern)
Indigo Bunting - Passerina cyanea (Least concern)
Common Grackle - Quiscalus quiscala (Least concern)
Red-winged Blackbird - Agelaius phoeniceus (Least concern)
Brown-headed Cowbird - Molothrus ater (Least concern)
Baltimore Oriole - Icterus galbula (Least concern)
House Finch - Carpodacus mexicanus (Least concern)
American Goldfinch - Carduelis tristis (Least concern)
House Sparrow - Passer domesticus (Least concern)

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:

Tryon-Weber Woods Natural Area also contains a 40-acre stand of old-growth American beech-sugar maple forest, thought to be the last remaining mature stand of beech-sugar maple in Western Pennsylvania and the easternmost stand in the national range. Accordingly, these woods are part of the national Old-Growth Forest Network, which recognizes the locations of and organizations from across the country that protect these special forest types. Some of the trees in this forest are around 100 feet tall and at least 90 to 120 years old.

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

Starting in 2019, Pitt’s PLE began a concerted effort to curate biodiversity data collected through research, class, and outreach activities. The first mechanism for achieving this goal was to create an iNaturalist project: The Pymatuning Lab of Ecology Biodiversity Challenge. Through the PLE Biodiversity Challenge, all PLE users and local citizen-scientists are invited to contribute their observations of organisms using iNaturalist. Any observations are automatically entered into the project if they occur on a PLE property.

+ View the PLE Biodiversity Challenge in iNaturalist: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/pymatuning-lab-of-ecology-biodiversity-challenge

+ View species observed in the PLE Biodiversity Challenge: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/pymatuning-lab-of-ecology-biodiversity-challenge?tab=species

PLE PUBLICATIONS: Information on particular species is also collected from publications that result from research conducted at PLE. See a complete list of PLE publications: https://www.ple.pitt.edu/research/publications

Data is also collected on frog species from citizen science programs conducted on PLE land. Starting in 2016, PLE began training citizen scientists in western Pennsylvania to be FrogWatch USA volunteers. FrogWatch USA is a nationwide, chapter-based, citizen-scientist program where volunteers help monitor frog and toad populations by recording and reporting information on their calling activity.

+ Learn more about PLE’s FrogWatch activities: https://www.ple.pitt.edu/community-programming/citizen-science/frogwatch-usa
2019 story highlighting PLE FrogWatch training: https://www.alleghenyfront.org/volunteers-help-scientists-save-frogs/

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

The assessments mentioned above are ongoing and conducted on PLE land, which totals 135 acres. PLE provides researchers access to a diverse set of habitats and species and supports their work with well-equipped, modern laboratory facilities.

As a result, PLE attracts researchers from across the country working on an array of topics. The topics of ongoing studies include animal behavior, disease ecology, plant community ecology, plant-animal interactions, and rapid evolution. PLE lands are located within a matrix of rural residential, agricultural, and state lands, which exhibit varying degrees of human impact (making them an ideal location for research on cross-cutting topics such as environmental degradation and sustainability in the Mid-Atlantic region).

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

PLE’s mission statement is “to foster the establishment of a sustainable culture through environmental education, field research in the natural and environmental science, and community involvement.” PLE embodies its mission by facilitating research of impact that uses resources at the station and its surroundings to address questions focused on the environment and sustainability.

PLE’s 2020 Strategic Master Plan commits PLE to compiling and curating long-term environmental data to aid this mission by the year 2022. PLE is also committed to developing a Facilities Master Plan by the year 2025, which involves creating a formal land stewardship plan and establishing sustainability goals. PLE collaborated with Pitt Facilities Management on creation of its 2020 Strategic Master Plan and is expected to collaborate with Pitt Facilities, Planning, and Sustainability (along with many other University entities) in creating of its Facilities Master Plan.

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:

PLE has had no additional programmatic changes since the original reporting. It has maintained its status quo operationally.

PLE website: https://www.ple.pitt.edu/
PLE website #2: http://www.biology.pitt.edu/facilities/pymatuning

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.