Erin Crone conducts a snake survey

Graduate student and Arboretum Research Fellow Erin Crone conducts a snake survey

Science is the heart of Arboretum work, integrated with land stewardship and education. Science reveals deeper understanding of diverse ecosystems through research on prairies, savannas, woodlands, wetlands, shorelines, soils, plants, animals, ecosystem processes, watersheds, climate, and culture.

Research has been part of the Arboretum landscape since its founding in the 1930s, beginning with the earliest plantings to establish tallgrass prairie and followed by experiments in fire ecology. Current research builds on this legacy of restoring native ecosystems and conserving wildlife habitat.

“Advancing restoration ecology” is central to the Arboretum mission, and field studies are key to achieving that goal. Research informs ecological restoration in a modern urban landscape, where challenges include invasive species, increased stormwater flows, and climate change.

As we continue a long tradition of adaptive restoration, science informs land management, and lessons learned while managing the land raise new research questions. As a center under the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, the Arboretum is a valuable resource for the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

This 1,200-acre outdoor ecological “laboratory” is used by faculty and students in many fields—from botany, landscape ecology, insect conservation, and soil science to wildlife ecology, environmental engineering, and public health. Classes from UW–Madison departments and other campuses learn concepts, skills, and methods for a career in science or a lifetime of ecological literacy. Collaborations among colleagues and across disciplines spark interest and discovery. Research at the Arboretum engages higher education institutions, government and non-government agencies, environmental organizations, and the general public. Citizen science is an engaging way to involve people in research, education, and conservation.

To learn more about research at the Arboretum, explore the related topics in the sidebar.

  • Featured research highlights current projects and recent findings.
  • Monitoring is an important scientific practice of taking systematic, repeated measurements over time in the same places so that long-term comparisons can be made.
  • The Arboretum Research Symposium is an annual event where students and scientists present their research projects and offers one opportunity to learn more about research here. We also share research news through our website, Arboretum News e-newsletter, social media, and on-site programs.
  • Several graduate student fellowships are available through or in association with the Arboretum.
  • Publications lists scientific papers based (at least in part) on research conducted at the Arboretum.
  • See the Research Permits page to learn more about conducting research at the Arboretum.