University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota
College of Biological Sciences

Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve

Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve

BioCON Experiment

Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve is a University of Minnesota biological field station with many ecosystems and species found throughout the forests and grasslands of North America. Faculty, staff and students who work at Cedar Creek are dedicated to understanding how human activities, such as agriculture and fossil fuel combustion, are changing ecosystems. 
Many of the experiments at Cedar Creek consider the long-term consequences of human-driven environmental changes. These include ecosystem responses to:
  • Biodiversity loss
  • Nitrogen deposition
  • Elevated carbon dioxide
  • Warming and changes in precipitation
  • Exotic species invasions


Cedar Creek is part of the College of Biological Sciences and a member of the Long Term Ecological Network.



Red-headed Woodpecker Recovery Project

Red-headed Woodpecker Recovery Project continues citizen-driven research

Since 2008, citizen scientist volunteers from the Audubon Chapter of Minneapolis have monitored and conducted research in Cedar Creek’s oak savannas to learn more about woodpecker nesting and habitat preferences, breeding behavior and brood rearing. Over the last two years, this work has expanded and focused with the addition of ornithologist Dr. Elena West to lead the research. Birds are now banded, tracked via radio telemetry and GPS-enabled backpacks, and studied from hatching onwards. This project is particularly notable as red-headed woodpeckers are in decline throughout Minnesota and the rest of their range, but seem to be stable here at Cedar Creek. Each summer, trained volunteers and Dr. West's team survey specific areas of the oak savanna and collect data for the project, providing insight into the way these charismatic and unusual birds live their lives. The group also leads regular birding hikes, logs sightings on eBird, and shares information with the community through an annual event in June.
More information about the research and ways in which interested community members can get involved can be found at the project’s webpage or by following along at Details on trainings as well as guided hikes and other special project events can be found on our Upcoming Events page. There are two more guided hikes scheduled for 2018: Thursday, September 6th at 4pm and Tuesday, September 11th at 4pm. Hikes last ~2 hours and depart from the Fish Lake Nature Trail kiosk. They are led by project volunteers and scientists.