Powdermill Nature Reserve

Research at Powdermill

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For information on research opportunities at Powdermill, please visit the Research with Us page.  

The research programs at Powdermill take advantage of the Reserve's unique combination of the wide variety of habitats found in the Allegheny Mountains. Powdermill is a member of the Organization of Biological Field Stations (OBFS) and the Association of Nature Center Administrators (ANCA).

Research News

The Powdermill Avian Research Center has joined efforts with The National Aviary, The American Bird Conservancy, Chatham University, the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania, the Green Building Alliance of Pittsburgh, and The Wildlife Center at the Animal Rescue League to form BirdSafe Pittsburgh, a bird collisions monitoring program in the city of Pittsburgh. The monitoring program will provide us with baseline bird-window collision data for the area, allow us to test our scientific protocols before expanding the research area, raise public awareness of bird-glass collisions, and rescue birds injured from collisions (http://www.wqed.org/birdblog/2014/04/04/help-make-pittsburgh-birdsafe/).

Powdermill bird migration research program

Birds1Avian research at Powdermill was started in 1961 by Senior Bird Bander Robert Leberman (pictured at right with the bird banding program's one hundred thousandth capture). Leberman founded what has since become the longest continuous banding program of its kind in the United States.

An excellent video describing some of the avian research underway at Powdermill is available on the Greenlife Pennsylvania website: http://greenlifepenn.org/?p=296 

For more information on Bird Banding at Powdermill, visit the Powdermill bird migration research program website.

Ongoing Avian Research 

Ongoing Research 

Other projects at Powdermill include:

  • several studies of distribution and abundance of Powdermill's amphibians and reptiles 
  • grassland ecology and bee diversity 
  • plant ecology and systematics
  • the influence of acid rain on tree growth
  • aquatic ecology
  • effects of the gypsy moth on the Appalachian forest
  • designated recording station for the national weather service since 1967

Higher Education 

Powdermill serves as a teaching site for many university-based classes in field biology and as a location for graduate and undergraduate biological research. Field and laboratory volunteers assist with several of the year-round research programs. Click here for information about student research opportunities.