Science is the heart of Arboretum work, integrated with land stewardship and education. Science reveals the secrets of diverse ecosystems through research on prairies, savannas, woodlands, wetlands, shorelines, soils, plants, animals, ecosystem processes, watersheds, climate, and culture.
Current research builds on an eight-decade legacy that began with planting experiments to restore pasture to prairie, transform farm fields to forest, and create wildlife habitat. Long-term and current studies focus on improving land health by enhancing biodiversity and restoring ecosystem services.
Arboretum science serves the public as well as agencies and non-governmental organizations. Research informs ecological restoration in an urban landscape, where challenges include invasive species, increased storm water flows, and climate change.
Faculty, students, and staff collaborate on research projects and adaptive restoration linked to conservation and restoration goals. Science informs land management, and lessons learned while managing the land raise new research questions. Researchers findings are shared at Science Day, at regional and international conferences, and in print and electronic media.
Classes from many UW–Madison departments and other campuses study in this 1,200-acre outdoor “laboratory,” learning concepts, skills, and methods for a career in science or a lifetime of ecological literacy.
Community members participate in citizen science projects in storm water management, bluebird and bumble bee conservation, insect ecology, ornithology, phenology, vegetation monitoring, and more.
In Earth Partnership for Schools programs, youth, teachers, families, and volunteers ask and explore significant scientific questions through experiential learning at the Arboretum.