Ecology

Kleinstuck Preserve

Over the decades, Western Michigan University has maintained the Kleinstuck property as a safe and accessible preserve but, unfortunately, has not had the resources to manage for a healthy ecosystem. The property suffers from the invasion of non-native plant species as well as erosion. In spite of ecological problems, Kleinstuck Preserve still supports a diverse set of flora and fauna. Thanks to recent community concern and involvement, WMU, in cooperation with neighborhood volunteer groups, has been able to work on improving the ecological health of the property. 

Habitat types

Habitat Types in Kleinstuck Preserve

Habitat types in Kleinstuck Preserve.

  1. Upland forest—A healthy upland forest should be made up of three diverse levels. The canopy should contain predominately oaks and hickories in the higher ground and transition to maples and willows lower. Additional trees such as black cherry, basswood and hackberry will supplement the diversity. The second story will have clusters of native shrubs and small trees such as witch hazel, hazelnut and maple leaf viburnum. The forest floor will have native sedges, grasses and rushes with numerous wildflowers.
  2. Swamp forest—This lowland forest should have a canopy cover of 75 to 100 percent. The main canopy trees should be maples and willows with a mixture of other species. The second story should be patches of shrubs such as dogwood, elderberry and willow. The floor of the forest should contain some sedges and grasses with occasional wildflowers such as marsh marigold, cardinal flower and skunk cabbage.
  3. Marsh—The marsh includes three types of vegetation: emergent, submergence and floating. A healthy marsh habitat should be dominated by cattail, spatterdock and other wetland vegetation with occasional islands of
  4. Shrub carr—This is the habitat between the swamp forest and the marsh. This area should include native vegetation such as dogwood, willow and elderberry and can offer good food and cover for wildlife.

Ecological management

Volunteer help

The Stewards of Kleinstuck is a volunteer group formed in fall 2007 by Liga Dindonis, a neighbor to the Kleinstuck Preserve. Its goal is to involve the community in improving the ecological health of the preserve. Stewards of Kleinstuck has organized educational walks through the preserve as well as volunteer workdays. WMU offers support for the group's special events and activities.

To get involved, visit the Stewards of Kleinstuck Facebook page.

Management plan

The first Kleinstuck Preserve Management Plan was written by Nate Fuller, Stewards of Kleinstuck member and conservation and stewardship director of the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy. Nate has extensive experience in ecological restoration and has volunteered his support in this project. The management plan divides the preserve into management units based on the land type. Each unit includes a description of the vegetation, objectives to improve the ecological health of the area and a priority ranking for determining the healthiest sites.

The plan was adopted in 2008, after being reviewed by the WMU Landscape Services director and faculty of WMU Biology and Environmental Studies departments.

2008 Management Plan

Because the goals of the original management plan were achieved earlier than anticipated, the Stewards of Kleinstuck Management Committee, along with the WMU Natural Areas Program, drafted a new management plan to guide future restoration efforts in the preserve. The document was adopted by WMU and the Stewards of Kleinstuck in October 2011.

Most recent Management Plan

Animal species