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Service Learning at Sodalis Park


On Saturday, November 1st, IUPUI students rolled out of bed to start their weekend serving their community. The service learning activity took place at Sodalis Park, a 210 acre woodland forest home to roughly 150 Indiana bats, the species Myotis sodalis. At dusk, the Indiana bat leaves its roost to search for food. In Sodalis Park, the invasive species, the Japanese Bush Honey Suckle, grows to form tall tangled walls of green preventing bats from swooping down to find their next meal. Brought to the United States because of its beauty, Japanese Honey Suckle started out innocently in the backyards of horticulture lovers. After the transferring of its seeding by birds, Honey Suckle started appearing in places not originally planted much like in Sodalis Park. Being an invasive plant, Japanese Bush Honey Suckle has no natural predators and instead has the ability to out compete native plant species with its allopathic chemicals released from its roots. When in contact with water, its leaves release nitrogen, which in turn can end up in the Wabash River because of soil erosion. On a larger scale the contribution of nitrogen into the Wabash leads to nitrogen flowing into the Mississippi which drains into the Gulf of Mexico thus adding to the miles long dead zone. The work done by IUPUI students at Sodalis, has not only been productive for the native bats, but for native plant species too. The removal of invasive species has allowed native plants to have a chance at growing and seeding. Without the removal, the natives otherwise would not be able to grow because of the allopathic chemicals in the soil or the competition to obtain sunlight. While the contribution may seem small, IUPUI students helped save bats, prevent soil erosion, reduce the nitrogen build up in the Wabash, and give native plants a chance at growth; all on a Saturday morning.

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