Nature & Science
Well known for its magnificent Filene Center and world-renowned performances, Wolf Trap also provides a natural enclave in the midst of an increasingly urbanized northern Virginia. Less than half of Wolf Trap's land is developed, leaving about 65 acres of woodland, streams, and wetland with a wide variety of plants, animals, birds, and wildflowers. Wolf Trap's natural areas add critical green space in a dense suburb, provide refuges for many species, serve as a migration rest stop for wildlife, and serve as a living biology classroom to the adjacent community.
Basic biological information is lacking for Wolf Trap, as it is for many smaller parks in the National Park System. Efforts are now underway to determine exactly what plants and animals are currently present at Wolf Trap. This is being done through the National Park Service's agency-wide scientific database project, the Inventory and Monitoring Program. Over the next few years, Wolf Trap will be systematically surveyed for flora and fauna by professional scientists through this program. The survey data will provide the baseline information needed to develop strategies for managing the park's wildlife. Species lists included here are in various stages of updating and revision.
Using Citizen Science in Support of Resource Management in a Small Urban Park
Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts (WOTR) is taking great strides to enhance the biodiversity found within the Park. Through the planting of a Native Meadow, the expansion of ‘no-mow zones’, and the planting of more native trees and shrubs throughout the property, the park is actively increasing habitat for native pollinators and birds.
In 2013, the park initiated an All-Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI) with bee and wasp, butterfly and moth, and bird surveys. These surveys are being carried out with the help of volunteer “citizen scientists” and in collaboration with the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia (birds), the USGS (bees and wasps), and independent researchers(butterflies and moths). We have documented fourty-five (45) species of bees, eighteen (18) species of wasps, twenty-five (25) species of butterflies, four (4) species of moths, and one hundred and twenty-eight (128) species of birds.
The systematic surveys not only generate valuable information for resource management, but also engaged approximately a dozen volunteer scientists in meaningful experiences. Efforts at Wolf Trap highlight the value of training volunteers in the implementation of scientific protocols at WOTR and the role of “citizen science” in supporting resource management, civic engagement, and education and outreach efforts in national parks.
If you are interested in being involved in documenting the diverse flora and fauna of Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, please contact the volunteer office at (703) 255-1893 or by e-mail.