Long Island Recovery Efforts
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|The Long Island Field Office works cooperatively
with Federal, state, and local governments, private organizations,
and private landowners on recovery actions supporting piping
plovers. Each year the Long Island Field Office coordinates
with its public and private partners in providing equipment,
logistical, and technical assistance in matters related to
threatened and endangered species recovery. Specifically,
the Long Island Field Office assists in the NYSDEC's Long
Island Colonial Waterbird and Piping Plover Survey, installation
of symbolic fencing to protect breeding areas and nest exclosures
to protect nests, outreach/public education, the creation
of a natural resources user group, and site-specific coordination
with landowners and managers on threatened and endangered
species management, as well as field responses to potential
and actual take situations. Piping plover steward training
program: Two times each year the Long Island Field Office,
in conjunction with The Nature Conservancy, Krusos Foundation,
and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
- Region I, hosts a day-long piping plover steward training
class on Long Island. This training is primarily targeted
to volunteers and seasonal plover monitors which are employed
by the various local government agencies on Long Island. The
class provides participants an opportunity to learn the basics
of plover biology and management, as well as how to monitor
and protect threatened and endangered species.
|The Long Island Field Office is involved in
recovery efforts for piping plover (Charadrius melodus),
roseate terns (Sterna dougallii dougallii), seabeach
amaranth (Amaranthus pumilus), and sandplain gerardia
(Agalinus acuta). Recovery efforts include on-site
monitoring, participation in plant and animal census surveys,
predator management, oil-spill cleanups, public and private
landowner assistance, public education, and outreach.
plover (Charadrius melodus): All of the piping plovers within the New York portion of the
Atlantic Coast plover population occur on Long Island. There
are about 65 sites which are surveyed annually as part of
the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's
(NYSDEC) Long Island Colonial Waterbird and Piping Plover
Census Survey Program. These active breeding areas are located
across the north and south shore of Long Island from Queens
County in the west to Suffolk County in the east. In 2001,
the New York Atlantic Coast piping plover population was 309
amaranth (Amaranthus pumilus):
NEW: See the Seabeach
amaranth page! The Long Island Field Office has the
primary oversight of recovery efforts for seabeach amaranth
on Long Island, which supports the largest population of
seabeach amaranth within its historical range, extending
from South Carolina to Massachusetts. Each year Endangered
Species biologists from the Long Island Field Office assist
the New York Natural Heritage Program in conducting annual
surveys for this threatened species. In 2001, a total of
179,300 plants were surveyed at twenty three sites stretching
from Breezy Point, Queens County to Hampton Beach in Suffolk
County along the south shore of Long Island.
|Roseate tern (Sterna dougallii dougallii):
The Long Island Field Office is engaged in recovery efforts
of the northeastern population of roseate terns which is listed
as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Currently,
one active colony of roseate terns occurs in the entire state
at Great Gull Island, Long Island, which is owned and managed
by the New York Natural History Foundation.
|In 2001, the Long Island Field Office worked
with various public agencies and private organizations (e.g.,
the Long Island Beach Buggy Association, New York State Department
of Environmental Conservation, Town of Southampton, Suffolk
County Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation, and
The Nature Conservancy) to restore roseate tern habitat in
Shinnecock Bay at Warners Island. This island was the former
site of a roseate tern colony, but has experienced severe
erosion over the years which resulted in the abandonment of
this site by roseate terns. In addition, in 2002, the field
office partnered with the Boy Scouts of America and U.S. Geological
Service - Biological Resources Division, on the development
and construction of roseate tern nesting boxes which augmented the restoration projects and efforts to reestablish
roseate tern colonies at some of their historic nesting areas.
Sandplain Gerardia – A Success Story
on Long Island
Sandplain gerardia (Agalinis acuta) is the only
plant in NY State that is on the Federal Endangered Species list.
It is a small annual related to snapdragons that grows in native
grasslands along the coast of the northeastern US. Once 60,000
acres of native grassland provided habitat for plants such as
sandplain gerardia, and its pink blossoms by the millions colored
the prairies in the late summer. Now, all but 200 acres of those
grasslands have been lost to development or grown up in brush,
and by the 1980s sandplain gerardia had almost disappeared.
On Long Island, significant remnant populations
remain only at Sayville, the Hempstead Plains, and Montauk. Sayville
supports the largest population of sandplain gerardia on LI, with
85–95% of the total number of plants. Protection of the
Sayville grasslands is critical to survival of sandplain gerardia
Sandplain gerardia needs a prairie habitat dominated
by native bunchgrasses, especially little bluestem. It is thought
that a hemi-parasitic relationship exists between sandplain gerardia
and bluestem, with the gerardia getting nutrients and moisture
from the bluestem roots. This plant cannot be grown in your backyard;
it needs high quality native grassland habitat. The best way to
protect endangered species like the sandplain gerardia is to preserve
and restore the ecosystems in which they grow.
In the past, fire, cutting and grazing maintained
native grassy prairies, but these practices declined as the human
populations grew. Without these special kinds of disturbance,
grasslands are invaded by shrubs and weeds, and sandplain gerardia
is crowded out. Sandplain gerardia is also threatened by the now
common cotton tail rabbit, a species imported from Europe that
can devour most of the gerardia plants before they can set seed.
Most of the sandplain gerardia on LI have been surrounded by fences
to keep the rabbits out.
The Nature Conservancy, with support from the US
Fish and Wildlife Service, the NY State Dept. of Environmental
Conservation and the Federal Aviation Administration has been
working for more than 15 years to improve sandplain gerardia habitat
and increase the numbers of plants that appear each year. Dr.
Marilyn Jordan, Conservation Scientist with The Nature Conservancy,
has been tending sandplain gerardia on LI since 1992.
Keeping the area in a healthy prairie state is an
ongoing process that involves prescribed burns by trained agency
prescribed fire crews, cutting shrubs and mowing. Each fall mature
seeds are collected by hand and resown, sometimes in totally new
locations. As is true with most annuals, gerardia seeds can stay
alive and viable in the soil for a period of time, possibly years.
Scientists call that the Soil Seed Bank. Growing the plants in
greenhouses has not been effective, for it is labor and time intensive,
and for an annual plant it offers no benefits over direct sowing
in the field.
Total numbers of sandplain gerardia on LI have increased
from about 500 in 1990, to 14,000 in 2001, and more than 80,000
in 2003. This progress is very encouraging, but most of these
plants occur at just one site in Sayville. It may take five to
ten more years before sandplain gerardia can be securely established
at additional sites, and be considered secure at on Long Island.
Marilyn Jordan, Ph.D.
Conservation Scientist, The Nature Conservancy
Long Island and South Fork/Shelter Island Chapters
250 Lawrence Hill Road, Cold Spring Harbor, NY 11724
FWS Endangered Species Home Page • FWS Endangered Species Northeast Region