The fifth Long Island Natural History Conference will take place Friday and Saturday, March 24 and 25, at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton. Online registration is found at www.longislandnature.org.
Speakers include some of the leading researchers and conservationists from Long Island and the New England region, and their topics run the gamut: geology, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and several unique and important habitats, such as salt marshes, the dwarf pine forest, and the primary dune.
Six of the presentations this year revolve around our fishery resources. Chart Guthrie of the State Department of Environmental Conservation will discuss the freshwater fishes of Long Island, and, on the other end of the fish spectrum, National Marine Fisheries Service biologist Brad McHale will present the fascinating natural history of bluefin tuna.
Another biologist with the National Marine Fisheries Service, Tobey Curtis, will provide an update on the great white shark research as it pertains to the waters around Long Island being an important nursery area for that species. That project was initiated last year and made quite a splash in the local press.
Bridging the freshwater and pelagic fisheries, Seatuck’s Enrico Nardone will discuss the ongoing efforts to restore river herring and their spawning habitats here. Other major news headlines in recent years involved massive bunker kills in Long Island’s estuaries, and City University of New York student Sixto Portilla will present his research and theory on those interesting incidents.
The ecology and conservation of one of our most fascinating creatures, the horseshoe crab, will be covered by Molloy College professor Dr. John Tanacredi, who brings an international perspective to the conference.
Tying these marine presentations together is a talk by Stony Brook University marine scientist and professional photographer Chris Paparo, titled “From Plankton To Whales: Why Our Local Waters Are Worth Protecting.”
Dr. Judith Weis will present on our most precious ecosystem—the salt marsh—drawing from her recently published book, “Salt Marshes: A Natural and Unnatural History.” Matt Burne, author of “A Field Guide to Animals of Vernal Pools,” will discuss that little-known, fascinating and often overlooked habitat. And retired DEC herpetologist Al Breisch will be on hand for an overview of Long Island’s reptiles and amphibians. Al has also published several excellent natural history books; his most recent, “The Snake and the Salamander: Amphibians and Reptiles from Maine to Virginia,” will be available for purchase at the conference.
“What’s so special about Long Island’s dwarf pine forest?” is the title of Stony Brook University’s Dr. Jessica Gurevitch’s talk, and Dr. J. Bret Bennington of Hofstra University chose “What every naturalist should know about the geologic history and glacial geomorphology of Long Island.” Also from Hofstra, Dr. Javier Izquierdo will present his research on the recovery of beachgrass, and the dunes they build, following Hurricane Sandy. And Louise Harrison will update us on the campaign to preserve Plum Island.
All should provide excellent insights and information for naturalists, natural resource managers, conservationists and educators. Hope to see you there.