Curious Conservationists

Research Projects

More About Our Research Projects

Bernheim is a facilitator of research on our 16,000+ acres of forest, grassland, glades, aquatic systems, and arboretum. Our goal is to provide access and support to researchers from universities, state and federal agencies, and private citizen scientists that foster a deeper understanding and opportunities to conserve and protect.

Bernheim’s ongoing research projects include:

Biodiversity Assessments – Ongoing efforts to catalog the diversity of life found within Bernheim forests have found at least 911 species of plants, 47 mammals, 82 snails, over 400 moths, and a host of other overlooked organisms. We continue to add to our lesser-known groups, with major initiatives to investigate troglobites (cave creatures), spiders, and ants.

Oak Forest Research – In conjunction with several universities, we are conducting oak forest research that investigates the long-term survivability of seedlings of several species of tree. The trees are tracked in undisturbed settings, under prescribed fire conditions, and in natural canopy gaps formed by tree mortality. This information will help us to better understand and apply findings to the management of our upland oak-hickory forest.

Bat Research – An exciting recent addition to our research is an examination of the bat population within Bernheim. Acoustic monitoring and counts provide information that allows us to determine if our populations are declining. Bats in the eastern United States are suffering from white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease that has reduced numbers of many species of bats. We have documented as many as 13 species of bats within Bernheim Forest over the past 4 years.

Golden Eagle Research – For the past few decades, Bernheim staff has been involved in yearly eagle counts for golden and bald eagles. In 2015 we were able to track a golden eagle from its wintering grounds in Bernheim and follow its migration to northern Manitoba. This same eagle – Athena – returns to Bernheim each winter, adding to our knowledge of her migration patterns.

Check for the latest on Athena here!

Species monitoring – Several rare, threatened, and endangered plant and animal species are monitored in Bernheim Forest to track their population stability. Some of these include glade violets, several orchids, whip-poor-wills, amphibians, reptiles, and other at-risk species.