Wilma H. Schiermeier Olentangy River Wetland Research Park
The Wilma H. Schiermeier Olentangy River Wetland Research Park (ORWRP) is owned and operated by The Ohio State University with the mission of furthering the research, teaching, and outreach of wetlands, and aquatic sciences in general. The ORWRP is a complex of freshwater riverine and wetland habitats, supporting numerous bird species, diverse fish and invertebrate communities, and a wide variety of mammals, amphibians, and reptiles. At the center of the ~35-acre site are two experimental wetlands that are fed with water from the adjacent Olentangy River. Created in 1993 these experimental wetlands have been the focus of wetland and aquatic science research for over 23 years. In addition, the site has a created oxbow wetland and restored bottomland hardwood forest, both fed by the Olentangy River. The site is also home to the 10,000 sq. ft. Heffner Wetland Research and Education Building. This research facility contains teaching, analytical, and wet labs as well as a 65-person classroom and offices for researchers focused on water resource science and education.
Exemplary Ecosystem Services
Maintains ecological connectivity/cohesion
Recreation (birdwatching, ecotourism)
Water quality improvement
Conservation Status and Threats
Conservation statusRAMSAR Designation
Adjacent land useUrban
Approximate natural buffer width50-100 ft
Approximate size (ha):14
General wetland characterization:Inland Fresh Seasonally Flooded Basin/Flat, Inland Shallow Fresh Marsh
Adjacent water bod(ies)Stream
Approximate stream order
Name of body of waterOlentangy River
The geology of the ORWRP is Wisconsinan Till which is an unsorted mix of silt, clay, sand, gravel, and boulders (geosurvey.ohiodnr.gov).
The wetlands are primarily within the Ross silt loam (occasionally flooded) soil type. There is a portion of the site (~16%) that is Eldean silt loam (2-6 percent slopes) but this area is mostly covered by site infrastructure (e.g. research/teaching facility, driveway, research compound, etc.).
Flora and Fauna
Dominant floraeastern cottonwood, black willow, silver maple, red maple, pawpaw, hybrid cattail, american lotus, soft-stem bullrush, common three square, flowering rush, honeysuckle spp., common bur-reed.
Unique florabrome grass, three lobed bedstraw, butternut, blazing star, red mulberry, american lotus, sycamore, floating leaf pondweed, skunk cabbage, and western ironweed.
Dominant faunaWood ducks, Mallards, Canada Geese, Great Blue Herons, Red-tailed Hawks, Red-winged blackbirds, Beavers, Muskrats, White-tailed deer, Red fox, Coyotes, American Toads, Gray tree frogs, Spring peepers, Eastern garter snakes, Red-eared sliders, Snapping turtles, Greenside darters, rainbow darters, banded darters, bluntnose minnows, bluegills, and pumpkinseed sunfish.
Rare faunaSpotted darter (research species)