West Chester University
There exists an abundance of biodiversity of plant and animal species at WCU, especially in the Gordon Natural Area. Concerned students and staff take great care in preserving these living treasures.
In 2007, 506 species of plants were observed in the Gordon Natural Area. Some tree species you may encounter include tulip poplar, beech, norway maple, flowering dogwood, and red maple. Today, the Gordon mainly consists of beech trees, but tulip poplars are estimated to become the predominant tree species in the coming years. Currently, a tree restoration project is underway called TreeVitalize. The goal of the project is to restore the upper plain of the Gordon, which has been demolished by deer, with native trees. Students and staff maintain the trees by watering them and measuring their growth.
Some native flowers and shrubs include may-apple, spice bush, jewel weed, and virginia creeper. A number of invasives threaten the Gordon such as garlic mustard, oriental bittersweet, mile-a-minute weed, and multiflora rose. In 2007, 162 or 32% of the 506 species of plants were non-native with 7 being state-listed species and 42 considered highly invasive.
An estimate of 40 species of fungi have been observed in the Gordon Natural Area. Some of these inhabitants include the common morel, golden fairy helmet, and turkeytail. How many can you find?
As far as animals found in the Gordon, mammals include the cottontail rabbit, eastern gray squirrel, and white-tailed deer. Deer have become a larger problem then invasives. While 6 deer would be the number that could sustain without impacts on plant diversity, presently, around 50 deer live in the Gordon. Currently, a project supported by DCNR has been underway to study how deer and non-native invasive plants influence native plants. You can observe these fenced in demonstration areas when visiting the Gordon Natural Area.
Reptiles and Amphibians you may see in the Gordon Natural Area include the common garter snake, eastern american toad, redback salamander, and eastern box turtle. A number of birds inhabit the area including the song sparrow, northern cardinal, and yellow-rumped warbler