Projects and Research
Current Projects Include
Wertheim is a stopover location for migratory birds in the spring, summer and fall. Wertheim is home to the “Big Fish Impoundment” which employs a ‘stoplog’ water controlto manage water levels to optimize foraging habitat. Biologists complete a biweekly survey is completed to document water level and record the species utilizing the impoundment. This year, black skimmers, glossy ibis, common terns, least terns, among others were seen foraging and roosting on the tidal flats.
Refuge staff, Long Island Field Office staff and Student Conservation Association interns conduct annual rare plant surveys each August. The Sayville grasslands continue to support the largest population of the federally endangered sandplain gerardia (Agalinus acuta) on Long Island. Service staff also survey the seabeach knotweed (Polygonum glaucum) population at the Elizabeth A. Morton refuge. This plant is rare in New York and found on maritime beaches, adjacent dunes and saltmarshes.
Refuge staff and Student Conservation Association interns completed saltmarsh vegetation surveys at Wertheim, Seatuck, and Lido Beach each August and September. The team surveys 203 one-meter square quadrats to assess how theis responding to restoration efforts. During the surveys, the team records percent cover, stem density, and stem height. Hurricane Sandy resiliency projects involve the use of coir logs to fill former mosquito ditches, newly excavated channels to improve tidal flow, thin layer deposition, and a new living shoreline.
Refuge staff assist researchers with the Saltmarsh Habitat & Avian Research Program (SHARP) in their survey at Wertheim. The team use mist nests to capture, measure and band adult saltmarsh sparrows on the refuge. This research and banding are part of a larger effort to document the population range and density of the at-risk saltmarsh sparrow. Biological technicians monitor critical sparrow habitat and other habitat variables in the tidal marshes at Wertheim and throughout the Long Island NWR Complex through Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency efforts.
Refuge staff work with the regional forester to complete a forest inventory at Wertheim. The refuge has approximately 1,300 acres of forested habitat and includes 54 sampling plots. During the inventory, biologists collect baseline data on forest composition, structure and health, which will help to inform management decisions. Wertheim is one of several refuges participating in this regional inventory and monitoring effort.