Tag Archives: Richard Cronin

MAKE WAY FOR BEETLES!

The tiny Puritan Tiger Beetle is a ferocious predator, but is a having hard time surviving in an increasingly competitive world. Today we hear from evolutionary biologist Rodger Gwiazdowski of Advanced BioConsulting, LLC, who is leading a research team from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Student Conservation Association in hopes of creating a successful breeding population in their historic native New England habitat.

Adult Puritan tiger beetles are less than half an inch long, but are fast and ferocious predators. Photo Credit: USFWS/Susan Wojtowicz

Adult Puritan tiger beetles are less than half an inch long, but are fast and ferocious predators. Photo Credit: USFWS/Susan Wojtowicz

They slice into prey with sharp jaws – and eat everything they catch. Tiger beetles, (named for their ferocious hunting behavior) are tough, tiny insect-predators, who thrive in harsh places like deserts and beaches. Despite their tenacity, many species of tiger beetles are on endangered species lists. Unfortunately their individual “toughness” is not enough to ensure survival. What they need is to be part of something bigger – a group of many interacting populations; something ecologists call a metapopulation.

Metapopulations reduce extinction, because if any one population in the group fails (a normal event) then individuals from nearby populations can move back, or grow new populations in new habitat. But a single population that’s too small, or too far away from new habitat – risks extinction.

Larval tiger beetles are also predatory, but live in deep self-dug holes. Larvae can be translocated to establish new populations, and here they are being carefully dug out by Service employee Susan Wojtowicz. Photo credit: USFWS

Larval tiger beetles are also predatory, but live in deep self-dug holes. Larvae can be translocated to establish new populations, and here they are being carefully dug out by Service employee Susan Wojtowicz. Photo credit: USFWS

On a narrow riverside beach along the Connecticut River, the sleek Puritan tiger beetle, Cicindela puritana (or ‘PTB’ as tiger beetle experts call it) lives on, as the only viable population in New England.  A century of human use has changed the Connecticut River’s flow, reducing critical habitat for the PTB, and eliminating a healthy metapopulation of beetles.

But now, thanks to some serious advocates, restoring a PTB metapopulation is possible. For the first time in the United States, a team from the Silvio O. Conte National Fish & Wildlife Refuge in western Massachusetts, is combining over a decade of PTB adult surveys, habitat management & acquisition, larval translocations, and captive rearing, to establish new populations of beetles at sites where they once historically flourished.

In the Puritan tiger beetle rearing lab, at the Richard Cronin Aquatic Resource Center, staff prepare for daily care of the adults, and larvae. Photo credit: USFWS.

In the Puritan tiger beetle rearing lab at the Richard Cronin Aquatic Resource Center, staff prepare for daily care of the adults and larvae. Photo credit: USFWS.

Throughout 2015-2016, a team of biologists, interns and volunteers have successfully translocated a small number of larvae to historic habitats, and worked with the Richard Cronin Aquatic Resource Center in Sunderland, Massachusetts to create a dedicated PTB lab that can rear beetles by the thousands.

Much of the project is made possible through the Cooperative Recovery Initiative program, which aims to recover federally listed species on National Wildlife Refuges and surrounding lands.

Larvae will dig their new burrows under the protection of transport containers. Student Conservation Association intern Cathleen Johnson releases the larvae into their new habitat. Photo credit: USFWS

Larvae will dig new burrows under the protection of transport containers. Student Conservation Association intern Cathleen Johnson releases the larvae into their new habitat. Photo credit: USFWS

Later this fall, the team plans to reintroduce hundreds of PTB larvae, now growing in the lab, to a historical site in Massachusetts. In addition,  students at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Elkinton Lab will help cold-incubate PTB larvae over the winter, which will also be reintroduced. Looking ahead a few years, the team has set their sights on several historic PTB locations, with the aim of establishing several new populations, to help re-make a PTB metapopulation in the Connecticut River.

Fishing with veterans teaches life long lessons

Josie is spending her summer working at the Barrett Fishway on the Connecticut River in Holyoke, Massachusetts, counting fish that pass through and head upstream. Photo credit: USFWS

Josie is spending her summer working at the Barrett Fishway on the Connecticut River in Holyoke, Massachusetts, counting fish that pass through as they head upstream. Photo credit: USFWS

Today we continue our recognition of National Fishing and Boating Week with a personal story from Josie Cicia. Josie is a longtime volunteer with the Service, dedicating much of her free time to helping those who dedicated their lives to protecting our country: U.S. military veterans. Read how Josie’s work with the veterans fishing program at the Richard Cronin National Salmon Station helped shape decisions in her life.

I grew up living next door to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Richard Cronin National Salmon Station in Sunderland, Massachusetts. Throughout my childhood my older sister and I would venture down to the station on a regular basis, exploring the world and work that surrounded us there.

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Volunteers are a critical part of the veterans fishing program. Photo credit: Jennifer Lapis, USFWS

I was always so interested in everything that happened at the station. When I was about five years old my mom started to let me walk down and visit by myself. I felt so fortunate and privileged to live right across the street from this fascinating facility. When the station was active in the Atlantic salmon restoration program, the manager, Micky Novak, always welcomed me (along with anyone else) with open arms. I grew up learning about the station, and the important conservation work that happened there.

I volunteered at the station for 13 years. The station wasn’t just a place for me to go to, it became part of my life, and it was my second home.

Volunteering at the station introduced me to many Service programs. But the one program that stood out for me the most was the Wounded Veterans Fishing Program, held once a month throughout the summer at Veteran’s Pond on the station’s property.  I am so thankful to Micky for introducing me to the program and giving me the chance to became part of this invaluable opportunity offered to the veterans who have sacrificed and served our country.

 

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Getting outside to enjoy a day of fishing is the highlight of many veterans’ week. Photo credit: Jennifer Lapis, USFWS

Working with veterans is an honor. They fought to keep our country safe, and now I get to help them have fun and enjoy time outside fishing, socializing and having a cook out. One of my favorite parts of spending time with the veterans is when they share their stories with me. Their stories have actually influenced some of the choices I’ve made for my own life.

Volunteering wasn’t just a passing interest to me. It became part of everything I did. It was so important to me that I would bring my friends along to the program to share this wonderful experience with them.  I liked to tell them that volunteering is more than just a good experience. It makes you feel so much better because you are honoring veterans who live in nursing homes, by helping them fish and enjoy time being outside. My closest friend used to always say “you don’t know Josie until you’ve seen her working down at the salmon station.”

Vet Holding Fish

One participant shows off his big catch of the day. Photo credit: USFWS

When I first learned that the station was no longer going to be active in Atlantic salmon restoration, I was scared and sad that the veterans fishing program might also come to an end. But much to my relief, the program is continuing this year, as it has every year since Micky held the first event in 1992.

I am now 19 years old, and just finished my first year at college. I still continue to volunteer at the veterans fishing program because it is an amazing opportunity. We just held the first event of this year, the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. It is hard to describe the feeling of happiness and sincerity I felt being back at the pond getting ready for all the veterans to come and reunite with all the other volunteers who have watched me grow up.

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This plaque, located at the edge of Veteran’s Pond, honors all those who served in the armed forces and dedicated their lives to protecting our country’s freedoms. Photo credit: Jennifer Lapis/ USFWS

The veterans fishing program helped me realize that I want to go to school to study environmental science. It has shown me how important it is to protect wildlife and the natural environment around us. I often talk with some of the veterans and volunteers about how the environment has changed so much in their lifetime. Hearing their stories always makes me sad, which has helped me to realize what I want to study in college. The environmental field has so much to offer. I plan to someday, continue my volunteer journey and show younger generations how important it is for all of us.

National Fishing and Boating Week

USFWS Fish and Aquatic Conservation