Location: Forest Park, St. Louis
Project Manager: Alice Seyfried
Species: Flora and fauna
Priority: High

Background

The Center for Conservation in Forest Park is a multi-faceted program that utilizes the Zoo's campus of Forest Park for the study of native wildlife and for conservation education. Wildlife conservation projects focus on native wildlife ecology and management in an urban park. Projects are conducted in cooperation with Forest Park Forever, St. Louis Department of Parks and our sister institutions.

St. Louis Interest

The Saint Louis Zoo's passion for wildlife and wild places can be found around the globe, but nowhere is it so evident as right here in St. Louis. The Park is our "backyard" and our home. In supporting wildlife in the Park, we support our own promise to make the world a better place for living things.

Goal

Wildlife conservation projects will focus on issues pertinent to native wildlife ecology and management in an urban park. Projects will be conducted in cooperation with Forest Park Forever.

The goal of conservation education projects will be to develop empathy in participating children/students towards animals and nature through a variety of methods, including hands on activities that involve science, art and history.

Conservation Science

In Forest Park, a variety of animal species rely upon the health and vitality of the Park habitats. More than 200 species of birds have been sighted in the Park. Some are migratory, and others are regular denizens like the great horned owl and Northern flicker. An astonishing array of animals call the Park home - some, like the Eastern chipmunk, are easily seen, while other species (notably the red fox and gray fox) keep a lower profile.

In the Kennedy Woods Prairie and Savanna, native plants pre-dating the arrival of Western settlers have once again taken hold: wild white indigo, yellow crownbeard and Ohio horse mint, among scores of others. These reintroduced plants present a clear welcome to a host of new birds and butterflies not normally seen here.

Plant Pollination

About 90% of all flowering plants need the help of animals to move pollen from flower to flower for the production of fruits and seeds. Most pollinators, about 200,000 species, are beneficial insects such as bees, flies, beetles, wasps, ants, butterflies, and moths. About 1,000 species of pollinators are vertebrates like birds, bats, lizards, and small mammals.

Armed with digital cameras, guidebooks and field journals, Zoo researchers conducted a scientific survey of bee and other pollinator populations in Forest Park's restored prairies during summer 2008. Information gathered about the diversity and abundance of pollinators in the Park are helping to improve and modify habitat, and provide valuable data about invertebrate populations and colonization.

Honeysuckle Eradication

On April 28-30, 2009, Forest Park Forever, the Saint Louis Zoo and St. Louis Department of Parks teamed up in a unique partnership to eradicate honeysuckle bushes near the Jewel Box in Forest Park. An hour a day for three days, a group of five goats nibbled shoots of invasive honeysuckle bushes that crowd out Missouri's native plants, such as hazelnuts, redbuds, spicebush, Missouri wildflowers and grasses, as well as young oaks and hickories. These plants provide food and cover for birds, for butterflies and other local wildlife. Forest Park Forever and the Saint Louis Zoo hope their experiment with bush honeysuckle will send a strong conservation message to the community about reinstating native vegetation.

Homeowners can learn more about bush honeysuckle from the Missouri Department of Conservation's web site.

Partners

Forest Park Forever
St. Louis Department of Parks
Missouri Department of Conservation