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Animals &Events &Lectures &Natural History &News dgregg on 21 Sep 2011

Public Lecture Sept. 27: What’s the Deal with Seals?

RINHS will host a lecture “Seal Biology & Ecology in New England: Insights Through Strandings” by C.T. Harry, on Tuesday evening, September 27th, at 7:30 p.m. in Corless Auditorium on the URI – Graduate School of Oceanography, Bay Campus in Narragansett (URI-GSO).

The Natural History Survey’s 17th Annual Meeting will precede the September 27 lecture, beginning at 5:30 p.m. and be held in the Hazard Conference Room at the Coastal Institute, URI-GSO. Light dinner fare will be served, please RSVP to programadmin@rinhs.org if you plan to attend. Executive director David Gregg and president of the RINHS board Robert Kenney will discuss accomplishments, challenges, the role of the Survey in the course of environmental science and management in Rhode Island in the past year, and share plans for the future. The annual meeting is free and open to the public.

From 6:45 – 7:30 p.m. a Dessert Social will be held in the Corless Auditorium Lobby at URI-GSO.

At 7:30 p.m., CT Harry, Assistant Stranding Coordinator for the Marine Mammal Rescue & Research Division at the International Fund for Animal Welfare in Yarmouth Port, MA, will speak. From the Gulf of Maine to the Mid-Atlantic States, seal populations (gray, harbor, hooded & harp) are on the increase. Additionally, all species are being consistently observed outside of their historical distribution ranges. These changes, in concert with our rising human population, and more frequent excursions into seal habitats, have lead to increasing contact between humans and seals. At the same time as seal watching has emerged as an industry, conflict with fishermen and concerns about disease vectors has increased as well. Come explore with Harry, the natural history parameters that contribute to these recent changes, and then embark on discussion of what may lie ahead for seal populations? Changes to federal protection? The carrying capacity of the environment in which they live? And finally, some thoughts on future research that will assist scientists and managers in understanding and managing their increased presence among us.

CT Harry’s lecture is the first in the 2011-2012 Mark. D. Gould Memorial Lecture Series organized by the Natural History Survey. The series will focus on animal interactions with humans, or, as Executive Director David Gregg puts it “animals we didn’t used to have to deal with but now they’re living all around us”! And, will culminate in a conference in April 2012. Support for the lecture series is generously provided by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

The entire evening is free and open to the public. For more information and directions call 401-874-5800 or click here for a Google Map.

Animals &Exec's Blog &News dgregg on 03 Feb 2011

White Nose Syndrome Update February 2011

White Nose Syndrome was first discovered to be affecting bats in northeast North America in 2007. Since then it has devastated bat populations in the region and spread substantially across the eastern United States. There are several new developments that may be of interest to Rhode Island naturalists.

The following is a news item sent to RINHS by Bob Brooks, USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station, Amherst, Mass.:
There has been significant documentation of WNS-associated declines in bats populations in winter hibernacula, excellently summarized by Frick et al. in their 2010 Science article. We are now starting to document the effects of this mortality in summer activity surveys. The first report was by Dzal et al. from surveys along the Upper Hudson River, NY. I am pleased to announce that an “in press” report on a 2010 re-survey of my 2004-2006 Quabbin sites is available on the Biodiversity and Conservation website.

Abstract: White-nose syndrome (WNS) was first reported in a hibernating bat population in central New York State in February 2006. Since 2006, WNS has been reported from bat hibernacula across much of eastern United States and adjacent Canada and has been associated with a dramatic decline in the populations of hibernating bats in the northeastern U.S. We are only beginning to discover how these declines are manifest in changes in summer bat abundance and activity at local scales. A 3-year (2004–2006) acoustic survey showed that the forested watershed of the Quabbin Reservoir in central Massachusetts supported an abundant and species-rich summer bat community. In 2010, 4-years following the initial occurrence of WNS, a re-survey of the same habitats and sites found a 72% reduction in bat activity on the watershed. This is the identical rate of decline reported from cave hibernacula surveys (73%). This decline in summer activity levels is most likely a consequence of WNS-caused mortality. The impacts of population losses of this magnitude of a once widespread and abundant taxa are unknown but are presumed to be ecologically significant.

If anyone is interested in the paper and is unable to access it from the journal website, I would gladly send a digital reprint. -Bob Brooks

WNS is, in all likelihood, caused by a fungus (Geomyces destructans), and has been shown to be transmissible not just from bat to bat but from G.d. spores in the environment, it is imperative that those venturing into caves or other bat habitats and those handling bats take steps to prevent movement of spores and other contamination. To that end, a decontamination protocol has been developed using the best available science. Those interested can follow this link:
WNS decontamination procedure

Here in Rhode Island, the Department of Environmental Management, Division of Fish & Wildlife, has been developing bat monitoring procedures to better understand the importance of bats in our local ecosystem and any long-term changes that may result from WNS. DEM Biologist Charlie Brown has been the lead on this project and those interested what’s happening or in what they can do to help should contact him using the DEM Fish & Wildlife website.

Animals &News dgregg on 13 Oct 2010

White Nose Syndrome Update

Wondering what the latest is on white nose syndrome, the phenomenon that is devastating the population of cave roosting bats around the U.S.? Here’s a link to the USFWS’s White Nose Syndrome site.

USFWS announced last week $1.6 million in new awards to researchers studying white nose syndrome. Funded research includes studies of disease detection, transmission, and origin.

Animals &News &Publications dgregg on 23 Sep 2010

Check out RIDEM’s Wild Rhode Island Newsletter

The Autumn 2010 issue of RI DEM’s Wild Rhode Island magazine is new available, in electronic form, from their website–Click HERE.

There’s a terrific article on Nicrophorus americanus, the American burying beetle, as well as one on one of our most delicious fish, striper, Morone saxatilis.

Animals &Invasives &News dgregg on 22 Sep 2010

New Asian Longhorn Beetle Finds in Worcester Co., Mass.

The Massachusetts Introduced Pests Outreach Project made the following announcement on September 21, 2010. For our Rhode Island audience, learn to ID ALB and its damage to trees and keep a sharp lookout.

Comprehensive ID tools from Mass. DCR
DEM Fact Sheet

Report anything suspicious to the Rhode Island Tree Council at albfreeri@gmail.com, to RI DEM using their invasive sighting reporting tool: https://www.ri.gov/DEM/caps or to RINHS at invasives@rinhs.org.


BOSTON – The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and the
U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) today
announced the expansion of the Asian longhorned beetle regulated area in Worcester County
after the discovery of additional trees infested with the beetle in the towns of Boylston and

The current central Massachusetts regulated area has been expanded by 18 square miles,
creating a federal and state quarantine zone for the area that is now 94 square miles.
Inspectors working on the Massachusetts ALB cooperative eradication program found
additional infested trees in the town of Boylston and the town of Holden last month, forcing
expansion of the regulated area boundary. Eradication program activities include inspection of
every host tree within the regulated area to evaluate ALB presence. In Worcester County,
ground survey crews and tree climbers are continuing their inspections within the city of
Worcester and the towns of Holden, West Boylston, Boylston, and Shrewsbury.

Animals &Invasives dgregg on 10 Aug 2010

Humans as Biocontrol for Invasive Species

Okay, we get this question from time to time: why don’t we encourage people to develop a palate for invasive species as a way to control them? The usual answer is that encouraging human uses of invasive species encourages people to move them around, either intentionally, to create new populations for exploitation, or accidentally, because they’re bringing them along to cook later and they escape.

But here’s an interesting example from today’s news: Officials from NOAA are encouraging the development of a market for lionfish meat and a fishery to supply it as a way to control explosive population growth of a highly destructive invasive species.

Story at MSNBC

I’d like to know how they taste dredged through a thick beer batter and fried and served on a pile of french fries and a generous slosh of vinegar.

Animals &Bioblitz &Events &Exec's Blog &Natural History &News &Plants &Rare Species dgregg on 14 Jun 2010

BioBlitz 2010 A Success

The teams are just back in from BioBlitz 2010 and I’m sure people are working hard to unload gear, hang out sleeping bags and tents out to dry, and catch up on sleep. Thank you all for your tremendous efforts that made the event such a success. Thanks to the Block Island community for their help and hospitality. The preliminary count is 916 species, which is great by any standard and for an island and rainy weather, it is terrific. We have a lot of work to do to cross check the numerous data sheets, especially for the marine organisms, and we look forward to receiving the many specialist reports, so I am confident that the final number will be higher, perhaps approaching the magic 1,000 barrier.

A special shout-out to the art team. It was great to have you with us this year, you added a lot and helped put the biodiversity and the event into a whole new light. Should we be looking forward to a gallery show in the fall? Can’t wait.

Platanthera flava

Platanthera flava

Notable finds: American burying beetle, pale green orchid, wood duck, spiny skate, jonah crab, citrine forktail. We will post more details on the finds as they come in.

One special and sad note: Doug Greene, who had just done lichens for the BioBlitz, collapsed on his way to the ferry and, despite the best efforts of emergency medical personnel, died on the island. Doug helped in 7 RI BioBlitzes, incl. the 1st one, in 2000, and contributed to many other science efforts. We will be sure to get word out about a service or other memorialization when we know more.

Doug Greene, at the 2007 BioBlitz at Trustom Pond
Doug Greene, at the 2007 BioBlitz at Trustom Pond

Animals &Conferences &Events &News dgregg on 31 Mar 2010

Register Now for April 9 Amphibian Conference

Registration for the 14th annual Ecology of Rhode Island Conference, to be held April 9 at the Quonset O Club in North Kingstown, is open NOW. This year’s subject is Emerging Threats to Amphibians. The conference will examine a range of factors affecting the survival of this delightful group of organisms, and will concentrate on two diseases newly detected in Rhode Island–ranavirus and chytrid fungus. Panamanian amphibian conservation expert Edgardo Griffith is the keynote speaker. Griffith has been on the front line of the battle to save rain forest frogs from chytrid fungus. Other speakers include biologists and veterinarians expert in amphibian rearing. There will be a discussion session to address the management of ponds and wetlands in light of amphibian diseases.  Posters, displays, and good company will round out the day. There is a lot to learn from a frog and, as usual, people with diverse backgrounds and expertise will get a lot out of the RINHS annual conference. It should be of interest to amateur naturalists, conservationists, pet amphibian fanciers, and land managers, as well as vets and researchers. Please plan on coming. Registration closes soon. For registration materials and more details on the program, visit the CONFERENCE PAGE. The program for the day is available HERE.

Animals &Conferences &Events &News &Research dgregg on 08 Mar 2010

2010 Conference Registration OPEN

2010 Conference Registration is NOW OPEN
Emerging Threats to Amphibian Conservation in New England with Attention to Chytrid & Ranavirus
Friday, April 9, 2010 ~ 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Quonset O Club, North Kingston


For the 2010 RINHS conference, experts in chytrid fungus and ranavirus have been invited to discuss the biology and potential ecological impact of these water-borne pathogens, monitoring strategies, and potential management responses, on amphibian populations. At the end of the conference, a moderated discussion will focus on ways to continue the investigation of the situation in Rhode Island and on possible management responses.

Invited speakers:
Edgardo Griffith, El Valle Amphibian Conservation Center, Panama. Keynote.
Tim Georoff, Roger Williams Park Zoo, Itraconazole Bath Treatment of Potential Carriers.
Carlos Rodriguez, Wildlife Conservation Society, Captive Surveillance with Necropcsy
Eric Baitchman, Zoo New England, Probiotic Treatment and Pathophysiology in Panama
David Skelly, Yale University, Discussion Moderator – ongoing investigation & management possibilities in RI
Additional talks on the Rhode Island chytrid study, ranavirus in RI wetlands & New York State, historical presence, origin & evolution of chytrid in New England, chytrid prevalence in Honduras, posters & displays.

The 2010 RI Distinguished Naturalist Award presentations will be held at 8:30 a.m. Watch this space for an announcement of the winner(s).

This year’s conference is sponsored by:
EPA Region 1
Roger Williams Park Zoo
American Association of Zoo Keepers
Zoo New England–Franklin Park Zoo/Stone Zoo

For more information on RINHS conferences, including details of past conferences, please visit the Conference Page of our website.

Animals &Conferences &Events dgregg on 08 Jan 2010

Amphibian Conservation Conference, April 9, 2010

Emerging Threats to Amphibian Conservation in New England, with Special Attention to Chytrid and Ranavirus

Friday, April 9, 2010
8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Quonset O Club, North Kingstown, RI

This year, the Rhode Island Natural History Survey’s annual ecology conference is focused on emerging threats to amphibians in New England and potential management responses. Experts in chytrid fungus and ranavirus have been invited to discuss the biology and potential ecological impact of these water-borne pathogens, monitoring strategies, and potential management responses. At the end of the conference, a moderated discussion will focus on ways to continue the investigation of the situation in Rhode Island and on possible management responses.

The chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis has caused population declines and extinctions of amphibian species in western North America, Central America, South America, eastern Australia, and the Caribbean. Preliminary results of a recent chytrid fungus survey in Rhode Island, sponsored by Roger Williams Park Zoo, documented a widespread, uneven distribution of this globally significant pathogen. Ranavirus, another emerging infectious disease, is also present in isolated wetlands throughout New England and has been implicated in recent catastrophic mortality events.

Keynote Speaker: Edgardo Griffith, Herpetologist and Director of the El Valle Amphibian Conservation Center, Panama. No one is more experienced with the chytrid devastation or responded to it better than Griffith. His initiatives have been featured in National Geographic and promoted by David Attenborough and Jane Goodall, among others.

Researchers and wildlife managers working on threats to amphibians in New England including pathogens, polluted run-off, habitat loss/fragmentation, and climate change are invited to offer papers for presentation in oral or poster form. The organizers are particularly interested in hearing from researchers working on chytrid, ranavirus, or other pathologies or able to place emerging pathogens among other threats to amphibian conservation in southern New England. Student submissions are encouraged.

Abstracts should be less than 200 words, text only (no tables/graphs), left justified, arranged as follows:
Author(s), Affiliation(s), address, e-mail, phone number
(Skip a line)
Body of abstract

Submit abstracts electronically, attached as a Word file to: abstract@rinhs.org with preference for an “oral presentation” or “poster presentation” indicated in the subject field.

The submission deadline is 5 p.m., Monday, March 1, 2010. All submitted abstracts will be reviewed by the RINHS Program Committee. If more oral presentations are requested than the schedule allows, the committee may ask presenters to consider poster presentations instead. All presenters must register for the conference.

The conference is sponsored by Rhode Island Natural History Survey, Roger Williams Park Zoo, University of Rhode Island Department of Natural Resources Science, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Display space and additional sponsorship opportunities are available, contact RINHS.

RINHS conferences are widely regarded for convening a broad spectrum of people sharing a curiosity about southern New England’s animals, plants, geology, and ecosystems. They are excellent venues for researchers and organizations to showcase what they do in a collegial environment. For information on past RINHS conferences, including abstracts, visit our conference page.

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