Prescribed fire and mowing with a specialized piece of forestry equipment called a “hydro-ax” is used to set back natural succession in the Shrub/Scrub habitats of the refuge. By setting back succession the refuge is able to provide different age classes of habitat to benefit a wide range of species from grassland species to ones that need mature fruit and insect-laden vegetation.
Invasive species removal is conducted in all habitat types – from phragmitites removal in the marshes to kudzu removal on the forest edge. Invasive non-native plant species tend to not be as beneficial to animals as native plant species. This is because the non-natives don’t supply the correct fruit or seed type needed by resident wildlife or the non-native species don’t supply the fruit and the correct time of year for use by our migrating species.
Habitats are monitored for productivity and condition using regionally designed inventory and monitoring protocols. Sea level rise and marsh subsidence/accretion are measured using established survey benchmarks within the marshes. Monitoring of various animal and plant species are conducted throughout the refuge to determine the carrying capacity of the habitat, the overall “health” of the habitat, the abundance of species and the effectiveness of management actions.
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The southern tip of the Delmarva Peninsula is an important migratory bird stopover location along the Atlantic coast. This narrowing peninsula created by the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean causes a funneling effect on the birds as they fly south. Our current bird list of 406 species, found in and around the refuge, is a great resource for planning your bird watching visit.