Ecological Monitoring Program


You have found the home page for the Lewis & Clark College Ecological Monitoring Program (E.M.P.). The program is a novel way to use scientific sampling design to inform campus planning and development. It will help the College’s campus planner (and others) make better informed decisions about where and how to build based on ecological data. In addition, it creates the opportunity to assess whether attempts to mitigate construction impacts or restore natural areas are working as planned. In short, it is a powerful tool to help the College reduce its ecological footprint by providing a means of generating applicable data.

We need YOU

Baseline data were recorded during the 2005-2006 school year and are being used by Campus Planning to make important decisions regarding Lewis & Clark College's Master Plan. In order to inform future campus planning and development, it is essential that the monitoring program continue on an annual or biannual basis (the latter is suboptimal because it provides less detail for decision-making). Resource managers at Lewis & Clark College will only be able to make better decisions using ecological data in an adaptive management style if the dataset is maintained and expanded. If you have ANY interest in continuing a part of this program, contact the Biology and Environmental Studies department chairs and the Campus Planner (Michael Sestric) to discuss how you can get involved and possibly even earn credit.

This web site provides information from sections of a biology honors thesis from 2005-2006. For a copy of the complete thesis or data set, contact Brian Erickson by email. Enjoy this site and keep in mind that the hope of this project is to inform campus planning and development as well as encourage research at Lewis & Clark College in general.

Why monitor on a college campus?

Lewis & Clark College is a worthwhile place for ecological monitoring because it provides high-quality habitat for organisms, has potential to be maintained or improved, and has research and management resources available. Though located in Portland, Oregon, the 141-acre campus of Lewis & Clark College is well situated to provide habitat for non-human organisms. The campus is connected to two large urban forest patches, Tryon Creek State Park (652 acres, Friends of Tryon Creek 2005) and River View Cemetery (221 acres, River View cemetery 2005).  See Figure 1, below: Fig_1

The campus may provide habitat for organisms that use either neighboring wooded patch. Also, the campus itself is roughly 30% wooded (42 out of 141 acres, pers. comm. Campus Planning Office). Furthermore, aerial photos suggest that the campus and its neighbors potentially form a habitat refuge for organisms surrounded by a suburban matrix.

In addition, Lewis & Clark College has an environmental ethos that makes it a feasible place to study ecology. There is a generally accepted view that natural areas have value and consequently, there is a desire to maintain the natural areas that we possess. The administration of Lewis & Clark College embraces the concept that environmental stewardship and leadership are part of the College’s goals and foundation. Lewis & Clark College, which has a strong Environmental Studies program, an environmentally active student body, a nationally ranked environmental law school, and was the first institution of higher education in Oregon to sign the Talloires Declaration (a commitment to sustainability in higher education; see University Leaders for a Sustainable Future 2001 for more information), maintains a commitment to the environment.

Furthermore, studying urban ecology on a college campus makes it possible to apply many principles of ecology and restoration to the immediate landscape. This fact turns college campus natural areas into teaching laboratories. The coupling of prime location, an environmental ethos, a desire to maintain natural areas, and the potential for applied research makes the study of urban ecology at Lewis & Clark College worthwhile and feasible.

This website was created by Brian Erickson as part of his senior thesis during the 2005-2006 school year. Please contact him if you have any questions, comments, or would like to become involved and want to learn more.

Brian Erickson