BiodiverseCity St. Louis

BiodiverseCity St. Louis is a growing network of organizations and individuals throughout the greater St. Louis region who share a stake in improving quality of life for all through actions that welcome nature into our urban, suburban and rural communities. Learn more about this effort, and join in.

Take Action Today…and Make It Count

Throughout St. Louis, every day, people are making big and small changes to their backyards, balconies, streetscapes, schoolyards, parking lots, and play areas. Some are doing this because they love nature and want to experience more of it in their daily lives. Others recognize that native plants in the right places help prevent flooding, clean and cool our air and improve human health and well-being. Still others embrace the positive impact that leafy streets, accessible parks, hiking/biking trails and other quality green spaces have on property values and the economic vibrancy of our region.

For all these reasons and more, the BiodiverseCitySTL Network invites each of the 2.9 million citizens of the greater St. Louis bi-state region to take action. In this spirit, we are excited to launch the Nature in Our Neighborhoods citizen action project. No matter who you are or where you live, all of us can do something to beautify, bio-diversify and better the communities in which we live, work, learn and play. To get started, check out our curated list of expert ideas and local resources from across our region, connect with others and share your stories.


Species Spotlight

Girl and Indiana bat
Girl and Indiana bat. Photo by Jim Jordan.
Indiana bat
(Myotis sodalis)

It was about 8 p.m. on a crisp, clear Friday night, less than two months ago, when a group of biologists, graduate students, educators, volunteers, citizen scientists, and families of all ages and backgrounds shared a moment of wonder and awe at Shaw Nature Reserve. 

During the 2017 Academy of Science St. Louis BioBlitz held at SNR on September 22–23, a federally endangered Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) was mist-netted along the Reserve’s Brush Creek, with a single high net located just under the stream’s main foot bridge. The bat caught was female, healthy, 10 grams in weight (about two nickels), and her wings looked good. She was confirmed as a post-lactating female, evidence she had given birth to a pup sometime in the past year. Originally listed in 1967, M. sodalis remains one of our region’s most endangered mammals.

Among the biggest threats is the loss of their summer habitat, which includes small-to-medium river and stream corridors with well-developed riparian woods, woodlots within 1 to 3 miles of small-to-medium rivers and streams, and upland forests. In winter, M. sodalis males and females cluster together in cave colonies, but in the summer, the females break off to form smaller maternity colonies, typically about 20 bats which stay within a 3-mile wide area. Favored places to roost are trees, especially shagbark hickories, the loose bark of which provides the perfect little sheltered overhang under which females will rest. Old, dead, but still standing shagbarks are especially favored, like those dotting the Reserve’s Brush Creek.

The bat team that led the September 22nd capture, assessment, and release included Vona Kuczynska, founder of Wildheart Ecology and University of Missouri St. Louis alumna/bat expert for the Whitney R. Harris World Ecology Center, and Shelley Colatskie, Missouri Department of Conservation naturalist and former bat and cave ecologist, along with several grad students and assistants. Before release, the bat was tagged with a small metal-lipped band to identify her if she is recaptured again at the Reserve or elsewhere, providing researchers a better idea of what areas in Missouri or surrounding states she's using.

Fun fact: Myotis means “mouse ear” and refers to the relatively small, mouse-like ears of the bats in this group. Sodalis is the Latin word for “companion,” a nod to its social nature. Large numbers of M. sodalis cluster together in winter, using caves or abandoned mines as hibernacula.

To ponder: This find was especially gratifying for staff and volunteers at the Reserve, who have been working for years to restore Brush Creek. With the goal of enabling a healthy, biodiverse, functional forest ecosystem in this part of the Reserve’s riparian woods, much of the work has centered on the seemingly endless, labor-intensive task of removing invasive species. This single Friday night find of one of the planet’s smallest mammals doing its thing along a partially restored creek bed should send a clear message to us all: Keep at it. Keep pouring love, sweat and tears into the nearby nature places that mean the most to you. Learn as much as you can about the biology, botany, ecology, geology and history of those places. Do everything you can to enable more life to survive and thrive, and bring everyone around you along for the ride.


Featured Partner Programs

Milkweeds for Monarchs logo   Bring Conservation Home logo   Operation Clean Stream logo   Show Me Rain Gardens logo
A Community Initiative to Promote, Protect and Plan for Biodiversity Throughout the Greater St. Louis Region

Nearby Nature

Nearby Nature map

Spend more of 2017 exploring and stewarding St. Louis' great outdoors. Download our 2017 Nearby Nature Map featuring 50 places to love and 100 things to do!


Volunteer Opportunities

Sundays, September 3–November 26
Forest Aid Honeysuckle Removal at Emmenegger Nature Park
For more information, contact Gwyn Wahlmann:

October 28–November 12
Fall 2017 Honeysuckle Sweep for Healthy Habitat – multiple locations

November 11
Clean Up at the Bridge: Route 66 State Park

November 18
Volunteer Day at The Nature Institute

December 9
Bradford Pear Purge at Creve Coeur Park

December 14–January 5, 2018
2018 Christmas Bird Count