Loyola University Chicago

School of Environmental Sustainability


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. 

Student Operation for Avian Relief (SOAR)

The Student Operation for Avian Relief is a student-lead effort to make the campus safer for migrating birds. SOAR has two main activities. Every spring several million birds fly through Chicago as they head north to breed, returning again in the fall as they fly south to wintering grounds.

Many of these birds pass through Loyola’s campus, especially during the early morning as they fly in off the lake. Although these birds navigate over thousands of miles they are not good at perceiving glass, making them very susceptible to window collisions. Loyola’s campus has several buildings that have extensive glass in their facades, including the Information Commons, Sullivan, Halas, and Norville. Birds frequently collide with these buildings, and these collisions are usually fatal.

The first main activity of SOAR is to collect and transport birds for rehabilitation, cataloging the building, orientation, and species involved in a collision.

The second activity is to work with on- and off-campus partners to reduce the risks posed by Loyola’s buildings by developing solutions.

Biodiversity Inventory at LUREC

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. These include oak-hickory woodlands, shrublands, small patches of grasslands, a small pond, and wetlands. 

Recent inventories and surveys of the flora and fauna have so far revealed that over 150 species of birds, 100 plus species of moths and butterflies, 15 species of mammals,  15 species of reptiles and amphibians and over 300 species of plants can be found at LUREC.

SES offers Loyola students the opportunity to intern for the summer as a Biodiversity Intern. See the LUREC Biodiversity Inventory Internship Summer Application for more information.  Explore some of the previous Biodiversity research projects done at LUREC since 2012.