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Feb 5, 2019 9:35 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Calling All Naturalists

Feb 5, 2019 9:35 AM

The seventh annual Long Island Natural History Conference will take place Friday and Saturday, March 22 and 23, at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton. Online registration is found at longislandnature.org.Speakers include some of the leading researchers and conservationists from Long Island, and their topics vary widely among insect, fish, turtle, bird, mammal and plant species. Twenty presentations and a working lunch charrette have been scheduled. The charrette will be guided by Louise Harrison of Save the Sound, and is an opportunity for naturalists to provide input toward developing a conservation and management plan for Plum Island’s natural areas.

Four of the presentations this year revolve around the theme of global warming and sea level rise. Dr. Alison Branco and Dr. Dorothy Peteet will discuss aspects of sea level rise that are impacting wetlands, and Dorothy will present her research into the problem of salt marsh loss in Jamaica Bay. Kevin McAllister will give an overview of coastal processes, and interruptions to those processes as they relate to protecting our priceless beaches. Dr. Janet Nye’s interesting talk will cover global warming’s impact on marine fish distribution in the Long Island region.

Speaking of marine fish, National Marine Fisheries Service biologist Tobey Curtis will provide an update on the white shark research as it pertains to the waters around Long Island being an important nursery area for that species. The Nature Conservancy’s Carl Lobue will update us on efforts to better protect our stocks of menhaden a.k.a. bunker. The past several years have seen a resurgence in menhaden in Long Island waters, a situation that many have attributed to increased sightings of whales and dolphins and high productivity among our fish-loving osprey and bald eagles. Rounding out the fish theme, Enrico Nardone of Seatuck will update us on plans and progress with Long Island’s fish passages that provide alewives access to freshwater for spawning and American eels access to those same waters for maturing.

Two plant groups that share unique and unusual reproduction strategies are on the agenda this year. Dr. Andrew Greller of Queens College will present on Long Island’s ferns while Julie Sakellariadis will cover the East Hampton Garden Club’s ongoing efforts to restore a roadside orchid colony.

For the birders, we’ve scheduled talks on the wild turkey, barn owls, osprey and a general presentation on New York Audubon’s efforts to protect shorebirds here on Long Island. Long Island’s nesting pairs of osprey seem to have made a remarkable surge in recent years, and the wild turkey re-introduction program has resulted in a very robust population on the East End. Don Riepe will present on his barn owl nesting box program at Jamaica Bay that has also been a resounding success.

Representing the mammals this year, we have the multi-talented Dell Cullum presenting on his amazing encounters with raccoons and opossums, and NYSDEC bat biologist Samantha Hoff reporting on the 2018 long-eared bat field season. The latter included an East End bat survey that many volunteers assisted with, and the launch of another citizen science project looking at winter insects that might be potential prey for the endangered bats that Samantha suspects may occasionally come out of hibernation during warm spells here on Long Island.

And speaking of insects, zoologist Erin White will speak about Long Island’s dragonflies and damselflies, collectively called odonates. NYSDEC forester John Wernet will update us on the health of our forests as they relate to two insect pests, the southern pine beetle and the gypsy moth, as well as the fungal infection called oak wilt disease.

A big picture perspective will be provided by ecologist Polly Weigand, who will outline an ambitious management, research and monitoring agenda for our pine barrens.

All should provide excellent insights and information for naturalists, natural resource managers, conservationists and educators. Hope to see you there.

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