The CUE provides an organizational framework to support and
enhance the current research activities and interests of Butler
faculty and students in the area of urban ecology. CUE student
interns participate in all aspects of urban ecological research
including research design, data collection, data analysis, and the
dissemination of research findings.
Rain Barrel and Cistern Project
In Fall 2009 the CUE was awarded a grant from United Water to
implement its Rain Barrel and Cistern Project. The project
will install rain barrels at six sites in Indianapolis, and collect
samples from those sites, as well as 20 other sites that already
have rain barrels or cisterns. The project will be examining
the water quality in the barrels. Additionally, the project
will generate a "micro-green infrastructure" map for the entire
Urban Turtle Ecology Research Project (UTERP)
During the 2009 field season, we investigated the occurrence of
turtles in retention ponds throughout northern Indianapolis. A
visual survey of nearly 70 retention ponds and other small ponds
and lakes showed more than half (57%) were inhabited by at least
one of six species of turtles. The distance between streams,
rivers, lakes, and other sources of new turtle population and the
size of the pond influenced occupancy, with larger ponds that are
closer to a source being more likely to be inhabited. We found that
in general, the density of turtles in the retention ponds is less
than that of the Central Canal where we have conducted more
Window Strike Project
Every year during the fall and spring neo-tropical bird
migration, many birds collide with windows around campus. Some
birds are stunned, but for many of the birds, the result is death.
The CUE began conducting a study in the Fall of 2009 concerning
these window strikes. We are now partnering with Lights Out
Indy and will continue to conduct this study into the spring of
How to help:
- If you find a dead bird, please collect the specimen, please do
not throw it away. The specimen can be placed in a plastic bag, or
a small box, disposable cup, etc.
- Please note the location it was found and the date.
- Bring the bird to the CUE, Gallahue Hall, Room 68, x6505. The
specimens will be identified and possibly stored.
What to do if you find a 'stunned' bird: A
stunned bird is one that appears dazed, is sitting on the ground
and not flying away.
- The bird should be gently moved and placed in a shady, quiet
spot nearby. In many instances when it is approached it will fly
- If possible, please notify the CUE where it was observed and
- Please provide as much information as possible (general size of
bird, color, etc.).
Urban Squirrel Ecology Research Project (USERP)
In 2009, we continued our long-term monitoring of urban tree
squirrel populations living on and around the Butler campus. The
summer of 2009 marked the seventh year of data collection through
live-trapping. We recorded 111 captures of fox (Sciurus
niger) and 24 captures of Eastern gray (S.
carolinensis) squirrels from Butler's campus and 57 captures
of fox squirrels at Eagle Creek Park. These data will add to a
multi-year dataset to help elucidate the population dynamics of
tree squirrels living within a suburban/urban landscape. We also
extracted DNA from hair samples collected from over 100 individuals
to get a first look at the genetic diversity within these
populations. Finally, we are also currently surveying residential
areas around campus to estimate squirrel leaf nest abundance and
distribution. Our hope is that through genetic analyses and an
examination of leaf nest distributions we will shed new light on
how these ubiquitous species have responded over time to an
increasingly fragmented and disturbed urban landscape.
Shortridge Magnet School
The CUE is working closely with Indianapolis Public Schools'
Shortridge Magnet School for Law and Public Policy. Staff and
Faculty at the CUE have forged partnerships with Shortridge science
faculty, to develop experiential learning opportunities and
outdoor learning experiences. During a tour of the Shortridge
school last year, we learned that they have a greenhouse on campus.
One of our initiatives is to help Shortridge get their greenhouse
up and working. Shortidge is also one of our rain barrel
installation sites for the United Water grant. Shortridge
students will assist CUE interns in installing the rain barrels and
monitoring water quality.
Urban Ecology Monitoring Projects
The CUE has participated in monitoring projects since its formal
establishment. Ongoing campus monitoring projects that have helped
to restore and steward the Butler Campus include the Bluebird
Nestbox Project, Hoosier Riverwatch and Monarch Watch.
The CUE is currently assisting Keep Indianapolis Beautiful and
their I-70 "A Greener
Welcome" project. CUE staff and faculty will be monitoring four
of the restoration sites over the next three years.
The CUE is also working with the St. Clair Place neighborhood and
monitoring a section of the neighborhood that will be converted to