Category Archives: Invasive species

Habitat partnership bats a thousand in Pennsylvania

Today we’re sharing the hard work of Tom and Wendy Belinda, who have dedicated themselves to conserving habitat for endangered Indiana Bats on their land in Blair County, Pennsylvania. White-nose syndrome, human disturbance, and habitat loss have caused our nation’s bat populations to plummet. Close proximity to places where bats roost and hibernate makes the Belindas’ property prime real estate for bat conservation in Pennsylvania.

Indiana Bats

Credit: Ann Froscheaur/USFWS

Working with federal agencies like the USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, along with the Pennsylvania Game Commission and local partners, has allowed the Belindas to manage their property for the benefit of Indiana Bats and other vulnerable species. However, enhancing the health of their forests not only improves wildlife habitat, it also boosts the value and productivity of their land. A true win-win.

Check out our bat story map to learn more about the nationwide effort to conserve bats.

For more information about white-nose syndrome, visit www.whitenosesyndrome.org.

New Life for Old Fields

It’s been a summer packed with pollinators for Clare Maffei and Jackie Hannifan, both working hard with the Service to evaluate the success of pollinator habitat created in 2014. In Caroline County, MD, partner lands were seeded with a native wildflower and grass seed mix with the hope of establishing healthy plants for pollinators. Since early June, Clare and Jackie have been monitoring the sites to evaluate the pollinator community during peak blooms and make recommendations for future restoration efforts.

To achieve these objectives, Clare and Jackie are conducting vegetation, caterpillar, butterfly, and bee surveys. The pair used many methods to collect their data, including timed photographic surveys of butterflies, caterpillar identification on vegetation in the area, long-term trapping and hand netting of bees. This allows us to understand the diversity of pollinators in the restored pollinator meadows. To evaluate vegetation, 1 meter x 1 meter quadrats are placed on the ground at randomly selected points throughout the area and all plants in the quadrat are identified. Then, percent coverage of each species was estimated to determine the evenness of the plant community.

Initial surveys indicated that three out of four of the sites are providing good pollinator habitat; the dominant plants in the area were species that had been seeded in 2014. Seventeen of the twenty native plants that were seeded have been observed at the sites. Wild bergamot, partridge pea, and black-eyed susans have established particularly well. A few invasive plants were also observed in the area, but have not yet become dominant. This monitoring project will continue through the end of summer, with an end of season vegetation survey to confirm the presence of late season blooming wildflowers.

Monarchs have been observed at all sites. Eastern tiger swallowtails, black swallowtails, American painted ladies, variegated fritillary, and common buckeyes are also frequently observed. Overall, 326 adult butterflies and moths and 591 caterpillars were counted and identified. The vibrant flowers and sturdy stems in these meadows are providing prime resources for an abundance of bumble and carpenter bees. Over 1,000 bees have been collected, but it will take a significant amount of time to process all the samples. Preliminary examinations indicate the collection includes many common eastern bumble bees and honey bees, as well as a few more species that were difficult to identify. A few surprising specialist bees were discovered, such as the Rudbeckia andrena, a bee that relies strictly on coneflowers. Overall, these plots of land appear to be providing beneficial habitat to a wide range of wildflowers and insects, and will continue to be successful in the coming seasons.

Clare Maffei is a Directorate Resource Assistant Fellow, hired on through Student Conservation Association for the Chesapeake Bay Field Office for the summer. She’s Master’s student with the Geography and Environmental Systems Department at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, studying Community Ecology.

Jackie Hannifan is a Doris Duke Conservation Scholar from the University of Arizona. Jackie is pursuing her undergraduate degree in Natural Resources with a Conservation Biology focus. They are grateful for the assistance of interns from the Maryland Fisheries Department at CBFO, as well as summer interns at Masonville Cove for volunteering to help collect data on field days.

Working a 9 to 5 Job That You’d Never Believe

Today we’re hearing how Kelly Vera is tackling invasive species and conserving natural habitats as a Hispanic Access Foundation intern. Follow the journey of Hispanic Access Foundation interns doing great conservation and outreach work throughout the northeast here!

Throughout my college career, I had always told individuals that a 9 to 5 job was not for me. It wasn’t until I had the opportunity to be an intern with Hispanic Access Foundation and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, where I began to see through the complexities between that statement and where I am now. I have recognized the disconnect between the upcoming and current generation as social media evolves and the environment dissolves. I’ve found that a lot of people are disconnected and fail to recognize and appreciate their surroundings. I find it necessary to stay rooted with our native land in order to appreciate and understand the gifts that come from it. I believe that everyone is entitled to clean water, fresh air, natural food and proper living resources to ensure a healthy and happy lifestyle.

While I am just one person; with the collaboration with Hispanic Access Foundation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, I have been given the opportunity to make an impact on other communities to communicate, to educate and to engage others with wildlife and individuals. While being an intern with the Service, I have been able to learn about invasive plants, recognize different species like birds, bunnies, frogs, turtles and so much more. During my internship, I am able to be an active part of the refuge to conserve and maintain the wildlife and their homes.

Wood Turtle at Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge for endangered species day.

I am stationed at two wildlife refuges, which are Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge and Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge. Other than utility vehicle training, canoeing and kayaking training, I have learned a great deal about invasive plants and the hazards that come from invasive and how effective they are to aquatic and other lives. I have learned ways in which people at the refuges manage water control systems to manipulate water levels and ensure habitat throughout the refuge. I have been able to monitor bird life by bird banding, bird eggs through bird gourd houses and acoustic bat surveys through the bats’ high-frequency pulses of sound.

I’ve learned that every helping hand goes a long way and that the refuge is a community based area that is supported from many individuals who are able to help maintain the area and save the wildlife and habitat.