Biodiversity is the variety of life in all of its many forms. This variety is often thought of only as species diversity (the number of kinds of species) and while this is rather practical, biodiversity can also be characterized as ecological diversity and genetic diversity as well. These three ways of looking at biodiversity are intimately linked and share common features. The 98-acre Retreat and Ecology Campus contains a number of human landscapes and natural habitats which are home to a variety of species as well as possible genetic varieties.
Some of the natural habitats include oak-hickory woodlands, shrublands, small patches of grasslands, a small pond, and wetlands. Most of the natural ecosystems have become severely degraded due to past human disruptions to the hydrology of the site, the suppression of natural fires, and the introduction of invasive species. The ecosystem’s biodiversity is thus greatly reduced than what it could be. This is the reason for the restoration activity that is currently underway.
Early naturalists in the 19th and early 20th centuries recorded the type of landscapes and the many species they encountered along their journey. These have served as invaluable tools to understanding what was there many years ago and to assess the changes over time that has occurred. Presently, Loyola is engaged in recording the current biodiversity found on the property and is in the process of developing a database that can be used by faculty and students to record or retrieve interesting information concerning that biodiversity. This information can be used as baselines for current and future biodiversity loss and gains. For those who are interested, it can also provide exact locations on the property where certain types can be found or have been found in the past. Such data will also assist in evaluating our restoration work.
Recent inventories and surveys of the flora and fauna has so far revealed that over 125 species of birds, 69 species of moths and butterflies, 15 species of mammals, 15 species of reptiles and amphibians and a whole array of plants can be found at LUREC.
Loyola offers students the opportunity to intern for the summer as a Biodiversity/Restoration Intern as well as provides students the possibility of biodiversity undergraduate research.