Habitats of the Carleton Arboretum
The Arb has been a State Game Refuge for decades, and it serves a valuable role in providing habitat for species of diverse natural communities. As ecological restoration proceeds in the coming decades, the conservation value of the Arb will be substantially increased. Small populations of two rare turtles are found in the Arb: wood turtles (Clemmys insculpta, a threatened species in Minnesota) and Blanding’s turtles (Emydoidea blandingii, a species of special concern). Two threatened plant species were discovered in the Arb in the 1990's: ovate-leaved skullcap (Scutellaria ovata) and kitten-tails (Besseya bullii). Other rare species may remain undiscovered.
The Carleton Arboretum is located on a natural border between prairie and forest habitat. In the time before human settlement, when fires rolled across the prairie in the Southern part of the state, the Cannon River habitat acted as a natural fire break. The flame tolerant species of the prairie and oak savanna communities evolved to thrive with fires, while the fire intolerant species of the maple-basswood deciduous forests were set back. As a result of this process, the species found throughout different sections of the Arboretum today serve as reminders of the historic locations of native plant communities. In restoring the Arboretum to native systems, these trees and plants are used as clues in identifying what species grew and reproduced in a given area.
To see locations of the different habitats throughout the Arboretum look at the Arboretum map. The map also provides details on the restoration of former agricultural areas to prairie and forest. Listed below are links to the management plans and natural history for each habitat found within the Arboretum.