Southern Highlands Reserve - Golden Eagle Photo Monitoring Project

The Biodiversity Project

This long-term project investigates and measures the contrasts and similarities in biodiversity between our 20-acre Core Park and the natural woodlands surrounding it.

Since the Reserve’s inception, our staff has developed protocols for the close observation of plant species across our 120-acre property. The goal is two-fold. First, by monitoring the stages in the annual growth cycles of plant species (phenology), we are able to track long-term trends useful in understanding climate change. Second, by comparing this data collected from the Reserve’s untouched woodland with data collected from plants of the same species within the Reserve’s gardens, we can observe the impact of differing care and maintenance practices.

These comparisons led to the development of The Biodiversity Project in 2012. The study focuses on seven areas of investigation: water, soil, flora, fauna, climate, human impact, and overall sustainability measures taken for the Reserve’s Core Park and Natural Woodlands. Through this study we aim to measure the degree to which biodiversity can exist within a heavily managed landscape garden area designed to mimic native ecosystems.

Due to our high-elevation setting at 4,500 ft., data collected at the Reserve provides specialized insights. At home on an “island in the sky,” the plants and wildlife at the Reserve would have nowhere to go if average temperatures continue to rise. Migration to lower elevations in the surrounding area only would only mean warmer temperatures. This unique and diverse ecosystem would therefore be one of the first to vanish. Because of these specific conditions, the Reserve is busy documenting the growth of many species on property to track their interrelated enfoldment. We invite other institutions and researchers to join us in this effort to better understand the complex relationship of biodiversity, environmental influence, and management practices.

The Biodiversity Project (PDF)

wildflower, native plant, blossom

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