Invasive Species and Habitat Restoration
at Bluffton University Nature Preserve
Invasive species are aggressive, non-native plants and animals. These species grow
and reproduce rapidly and compete with native plants and animals for resources, like
light, food, and space. Under certain conditions, invasive species outcompete and
displace their native counterparts. There are several invasive plant species at Bluffton
University Nature Preserve, including bush honeysuckles, autumn olive, and privet.
These invasive shrubs are becoming established in the understory, preventing growth
of native plants and inhibiting the animals and other species that depend on them.
Left unchecked, the invasive shrubs will continue to dominate the ecosystem and reduce
What are we doing to conserve biodiversity?
To support biodiversity at Bluffton Nature Preserve, we are selectively removing invasive
shrubs using a combination of cutting and herbicide application. You may notice shrubs
that have been cut down or stems that have died back. These are invasive plants which
were targeted for removal. The dead plant material has been left to decay in place
to reduce disturbance, build soil humus, and contribute to natural nutrient cycles.
Where is the work done?
The work to remove invasive species is an on-going effort that will continue indefinitely. The first phase of removing invasive plants targets along Augsberger Road near the preserve entrance. On the west side of the lane, we are restoring an Oak Woodland, which, after removal, will be characterized by widely spaced oaks with an open, park-like understory. There are several oaks of various species already growing in this area, and removing the invasive shrubs will allow them to thrive.
A second restoration area is the East Woods. This is a mature forest with high diversity
of native plants, and large, mature trees including oak, hickory, maple, and beech.
The understory is rich with native species, but invasive shrubs have begun to encroach,
especially along the forest margins. To help conserve the existing high-quality habitat,
invasive shrubs will be removed to prevent further damage to the mature forest. Over
the next 100 to 200 years, natural forest succession will proceed and allow for transition
from an oak-hickory dominated forest to a beech-maple forest, which is characteristic
of historical northwest Ohio forests.
How is habitat management funded?
Maintenance and management of habitats at Bluffton University Nature Preserve, is funded through grants and donations. Current work to restore the Oak Woodland and conserve the East Woods is funded by a grant from the Cenovus Foundation. Much work remains to be done at the nature preserve, and donations of any size, as well as volunteer support, are appreciated. To get involved or donate, call the Bluffton University Advancement Team at 419-358-3362.
To learn more about invasive plants and see photos of those listed here, visit the website of the Ohio Invasive Plants Council: https://www.oipc.info/