• Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

    Indiana Dunes

    National Lakeshore Indiana

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Current Research, Conferences, and Summaries

The Great Lakes Research and Education Center shares information about research relevant to national park management with other scientists, resource managers, and the broader public.

Research Papers


Reports (including Internship Reports)

Summaries, Bulletins, PowerPoints, and Web Links


Research Papers


Peer Reviewed Publications Resulting from Projects Receiving Assistance from the Great Lakes Research and Education Center (including permit facilitation)

FY 2011 - 12

FY 2010 - 11

FY 2009 - 10

FY 2008 - 09

FY 2007 - 08




Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Science Conference


Staff of the NPS Great Lakes Research and Education Center, Indiana University Northwest, The Field Museum (Chicago), and USGS Lake Michigan Field Station hosted a conference on November 28, 2012, "Linking Research to Management at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in a Rapidly Changing Environment". Keynote speaker, Patrick Gonzalez, NPS Climate Change Scientist, discussed projected impacts of climate change on the park. The conference emphasized various areas of research related to biodiversity in the park and how to apply it to best management practices. Both oral and poster presentations were presented to the public. The oral and poster presentations are provided HERE. For more information contact Joy Marburger, ph. 219-395-1544.


Western Great Lakes Resource Management Conference

The Western Great Lakes Resource Managers Conference provides a forum for information and idea sharing between researchers, managers, and interpreters of national parks and other public lands throughout the Western Great Lakes area. This conference provides an opportunity for participants to share current research, monitoring, and management issues affecting parks and protected areas.

2012 Conference Proceedings

For proceedings from 2006, 2008, 2009, and 2010 visit:






Biology of Herbaceous Plants in Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore: Species Projected to Adapt or Be Resistant to Climate Change

by Elizabeth A. LaRue, Purdue University, Department of Biological Sciences, 2013

Climate change projections of increased temperatures, drought, and extreme precipitation events are already happening and are likely to become the norm during the next 100 years…Information on the likelihood of resilience of native flora and fauna to projected changes is necessary to develop regional climate change adaptation strategies (Galatowitsch et al. 2009). "

This project surveyed flora in three habitats of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore: dunes, interdunal wetlands, and mesic prairies. The report focuses on herbaceous plants in each habitat which are likely to persist during the next 80-100 years.

Click here for the full report.


Internship Program and Reports

The GLREC offers research internships for students and recent graduates during summer months to conduct studies in national parks of the Great Lakes region. The goals of the program are to: 1) support the education and career development of students and recent graduates via research opportunities, and 2) provide needed data and information pertaining to important issues and problems associated with resource management in parks.

Internships have been awarded for 2013.

To discuss potential internships for future years, contact the GLREC Research Coordinator.

purple loosestrife in flower

Purple Loosestrife

Purple Loosestrife Volunteer Program Report
Dr. Beth Middleton, U.S.G.S. National Wetlands Research Center, Lafayette, Louisiana

February 17, 2005

As a follow-up to the GLREC-USGS purple loosestrife workshop in 2003, I wanted to inform you that a number of people have volunteered to help collect data on purple loosestrife for the program. More than 25 people volunteered during the workshop. As part of a cascade effect, after the workshop at least 5 additional people were recruited by people from the workshop to help with the research. Several inquiries have been made by school groups and others to help with the research in 2005. The data collected by volunteers have been tremendously useful to my research program. As an added benefit, volunteers who become involved in the program become better informed about the purple loosestrife problem, so that the program is of benefit in creating a well informed public. Volunteers also have the satisfaction of knowing that they have contributed to a worldwide research program involving people from many countries in Europe, Asia, Australia, and North America (including Canada).

For more information, see the purple loosestrife volunteer website.

Latitudinal Variation in Height and Seed Set of Purple Loosestrife Volunteer Program
Beth Middleton, U.S.G.S. National Wetlands Research Center, Lafayette, LA USA
Poster (239k pdf)

Purple Loosestrife Workshop Report and Summary
August 29-30, 2003

The GLREC held a purple loosestrife management and education workshop in Spooner, Wisconsin. Six federal, state, and nonprofit organizations presented pertinent information and educational tools for assisting mangers in control of this highly invasive species. The workshop summary is presented in pdf format.

View the following slide show on purple loosestrife: "Purple Loosestrife: Purple Scourge of North America" (2.41mb pdf).



Summaries, Bulletins, PowerPoints, and Websites


The Impact of Climate Change on the Karner Blue Butterfly

  • What is Climate Change? Human activity has greatly increased the amount of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. This has contributed to changes in our global climate. Over the past 100 years the Earth's average temperature has risen by 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit.1 As a result, oceans are warming and becoming more acidic, ice caps are melting, sea levels are rising, weather patterns are changing, and organisms are being impacted. The current rate of extinction is 1,000 to 10,000 times the natural rate, and climate change is playing a role.2

  • Current State of the Karner Blue Butterfly Karner blue butterflies (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) have a wingspan of about one inch. Their appearance differs based on gender. The top of the male's wings are solid purplish-blue with a black and white border. The top of the female's wings are blue in the center and brown along the outside, with black dots surrounded by orange crescents along the trailing edge. The Karner blue is currently on the federal endangered species list. It was added to the list in 1992 after years of habitat loss, fire suppression, and habitat fragmentation contributed to its population decline. Since then, much work has been done to improve Karner habitat. At Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, carefully managed prescribed burns help ensure that populations of wild lupine, the Karner's only source of food, remain plentiful. Karner populations are monitored each year. Despite the extra protection this butterfly has received through the Endangered Species Act, the Karner blue is still struggling to survive. Karner blue butterflies must deal with our changing climate, which seems to be playing a role in the growth, development, and reproductive patterns of these butterflies.
  • Karner Blue Research Dr. Jessica Hellmann's lab at the University of Notre Dame is working with Dr. Ralph Grundel of the United States Geological Survey (USGS) to research the impacts of climate change on the Karner blue butterfly. Several different experiments are currently underway to see how a warming climate is changing the development, reproductive patterns, and behavior of these butterflies. Preliminary results from Dr. Hellmann's lab have shown that the warmer the temperature Karners experience (during all stages of development), the less time it takes for the butterflies to develop. More rapid development time means less time spent eating, and results in smaller and lighter weight butterflies. Additionally, each successive generation (brood) develops more quickly than the prior generation and produces yet smaller butterflies. Smaller butterflies are likely to produce fewer eggs. In nature, Karner blue butterflies generally go through two generations each year. Eggs laid in late summer over-winter and hatch in April when the larvae have lupine leaves available for food. During unusually warm summers, Karner blues have been observed to enter a third generation. Results from Dr. Hellmann's lab have shown that in temperatures just a few degrees warmer than historic averages, these butterflies will go through both a third and fourth generation.
  • Implications of the Research on Wild Karners As human activity accelerates our climate's warming, the endangered Karner blue butterflies struggle to survive the impacts of rapid growth rates and altered reproductive patterns. A warmer climate will result in smaller butterflies that lay fewer eggs. Additionally, when the warmer climate triggers more than two generations per summer, the extra butterfly generation may find itself looking for food just as the wild lupine plants it needs are dying back. When this happens, Karner blues run the risk of not surviving to become adults. Without becoming adults, they can lay no eggs. In each scenario, the number of Karners that survive into the next year dramatically decrease. Karner populations are already incredibly low. With so few Karner blues it is increasingly important for every individual to contribute to the next generation of the species. Based on these findings, the researchers at Notre Dame and the USGS, and managers at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore are developing mitigation strategies to help the Karner blue escape extinction. Strategies include providing more suitable habitats for lupine as well as the possibility of relocating Karner blue butterflies to different areas with suitable microclimates. Scientists are currently working to identify such suitable microclimates within Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

1 Chivian, E. and A. Bernstein (eds.) 2008. Sustaining life: how human health depends on biodiverrsity. Center for Health and the Global Environment. Oxford University Press, New York.

2 http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/basics/

U.S.G.S. Scientist conducting water quality analysis

Dr. Muruleedhara Byappanahalli works on E.coli analysis at the U.S.G.S. Lake Michigan Ecological Research Station

Thinking Differently About E.coli

Scientists and managers improve their ability to protect the health of swimmers through better science-based management and an increased understanding of contaminants and local conditions. This article highlights lessons learned from research on bacteria monitoring and summarizes research findings that may be of interest to public beach managers and swimmers alike.

The fruit of oriental bittersweet

Invasive plants, such as oriental bittersweet, pose huge problems for park managers.

Key to Invasive Bittersweet Now Available

One of the best ways to combat invasive species is by identifying small infestations and removing them. One invader threatening Midwestern ecosystems is oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus). Unfortunately, this invasive plant can be easily confused with American bittersweet, a native and non-invasive plant. After studying both species, Dr. Noel Pavlovic, Dr. Stacey Leicht Young, Dr. Ralph Grundel, and Krystalynn Frohnapple, all of the U.S.G.S. Lake Michigan Ecological Research Station, have developed a key that will prove helpful to managers trying to distinguish the two plants. The bittersweet key is available online.


Climate Change Websites

Climate change and global change in general raise serious questions for national park managers. Research in these areas helps generate information that will prove useful in addressing management concerns. Visit these websites to learn more about current and recent global and climate change research.


Did You Know?

A 3 story round house stacked like a cake with windows all around it taken in 1933

“Century of Progress” homes at the 1933-1934 Chicago World’s Fair showcased innovative building materials and designs. In 1935, developer Robert Bartlett moved five of these houses to Beverly Shores. These homes are being restored.