A Strategic Research Initiative. What is SRI?


eci_templateND-ECI Overview Video


climate_adaptationClimate Change Adaptation

dead_zoneLand Use & Water Quality

invasive_speciesInvasive Species


Dr. David Lodge speaks at the 2013 Shamrock Series Event in Dallas

University of Notre Dame professor David Lodge discusses invasive species on a special segment of CBS Sunday Morning

Dr. Jessica Hellmann on NBC's Changing Planet series discusses adaptation of butterflies.


The Notre Dame Environmental Change Initiative (ND-ECI) is tackling the interrelated problems of invasive species, land use, and climate change, focusing on their synergistic impacts on water resources. The goal of ND-ECI is to provide solutions that minimize the trade-offs between human welfare and environmental health where trade-offs are unavoidable, and to discover win-win solutions where they are possible.



"When Nature Bites Back: Solving the Budget-Busting Invasive Species Epidemic"

Dr. David Lodge speaks at the 2013 Shamrock Series Event in Dallas.


ND LEEF prepares for Science Sunday at St. Pat's

September 28, 2014 • Author: Gene Stowe, South Bend Tribune • Categories: ND-LEEF


ND LEEF, a unique environmental research collaboration between the University of Notre Dame and St. Patrick’s County Park, will hold its second annual public Science Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. Oct. 5. Construction has also started on an outdoor education and outreach pavilion that will enhance year-round community engagement at ND LEEF.

The Notre Dame Linked Experimental Ecosystem Facility, with an initial investment of $1 million on six acres in the park, includes two state-of-the art experimental watersheds designed to bridge the controlled environment of a laboratory with the uncontrolled environment found in nature.

Each watershed replicates the complex natural system of ponds, streams and wetlands while allowing scientists to manage such factors as water temperature and flow for their research. ND LEEF is part of the university’s Environmental Change Initiative (ND-ECI), aimed at applying cutting-edge research to improve environmental management and provide innovative policy solutions.

Science Sunday, which attracted more than 150 visitors last year, includes tours of the facility, descriptions of research by 10 to 15 scientists from the Colleges of Science and Engineering, and hands-on activities especially for children.


Work ongoing to improve water quality in the Wabash River

September 19, 2014 • Author: Kevin Kilbane, The News-Sentinel • Categories: Land Use and Water Quality


On a late August morning a day after heavy rains, the Wabash River looked the color of caramel syrup as it meandered toward Bluffton. A week later, it was back to its usual late summer tint — leaf green, from all of the algae in the water.

Just as excess nutrients in the Maumee River and its tributaries contributed to the algae problem that shut down the drinking water system in Toledo, Ohio, for two days in early August, nutrient pollution causes similar problems in the Wabash, said Stacia Henderson, Upper Wabash River Basin Commission watershed coordinator, and Neil Ainslie, a water quality consultant working with the commission on stream monitoring.

The growth, death and decomposition of algae create significant fluctuations in oxygen levels in portions of the river, creating areas nearly devoid of fish, aquatic insects and other life, Ainslie said.

“There are just a variety of algae species that exist (in the river), and, because of the excess nutrients, they just love it,” he added.

There is more at stake, too: A study conducted by the University of Notre Dame found the Wabash, which empties into the Ohio River near Evansville, contributes about 11 percent of the excess nitrogen the Mississippi River system dumps into the Gulf of Mexico. The nitrogen pollution has created a dead zone in the Gulf the size of Connecticut, reports The Nature Conservancy, which underwrote the study.

Shedd Aquarium's Eric Larson discusses latest study on rusty crayfish

August 22, 2014 • Author: Eric Larson, Shedd Aquarium • Categories: Transportation Networks, Climate Change, and the Spread of Invasive Species


Where Am I?
I’m working predominantly in Vilas County, Wisconsin out of the University of Notre Dame’s Environmental Research Center (UNDERC), as well as doing some research at the University of Wisconsin’s Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) site on Trout Lake. Off the football field, the Fighting Irish and Badgers have actually been great collaborators up here over the years. Although I’ll be working primarily in the Great Lakes in the future, my first project here is building on long-term datasets on native and invasive crayfish dynamics, largely developed by my mentor and collaborator, Dr. David Lodge.

What Are We Interested In?
One of the most exciting questions we’re working on is “boom and bust” population dynamics of the invasive rusty crayfish. Rusty crayfish first started showing up in northern Wisconsin lakes a few decades ago – they’re introduced from nearby within the United States (e.g. Ohio), but still have pretty big impacts outside of their native range. Many of these northern Wisconsin lakes were already well-studied by a number of researchers like Dr. Lodge, and the profound changes that rusty crayfish caused in them were easy to observe: rusty crayfish reduced abundances of other invertebrate species like snails, as well as aquatic plants that are important habitat for fish, and this ultimately lead to declines of many fish species themselves – including economically important sport fish. One of Dr. Lodge’s past PhD students (Dr. Reuben Keller, now at Loyola University) even put a price on these impacts: rusty crayfish cost Vilas County alone $6 million in tourism dollars between 1975 and 2005.