Selected articles from past issues of the twice-yearly newsletter of the Rhode Island Natural History Survey are organized below by category– click on a subject to go directly to an index of relevant articles.

Research Reports

Changes in Lobster Populations in Narragansett Bay 1959-2000 (12/2001)

Evidence for Seasonal Range Expansion by the Ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi in Northern Coastal Waters of the United States (12/2001)

Cypress Spurge Biological Control in Rhode Island (12/2001)

Species Databases and the Bioinformatics Revolution (12/2001)

Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) oviposition on Black Swallowwort (Vincetoxicum nigrum)

The Problem of Valuing Nature’s Goods and Services

Mute Swan: A view of an invasive species in Rhode Island

Rhode Island Odonata Atlas: Year 3

Climate Indicators: Data Sets Sought

Block Island Conference Proceedings Proceeding

Backyard Biodiversity

1998 Summary of Diamondback Terrapin Population Study, Hundred Acre Cove, Barrington, RI

1999 Brings a Glimpse of “the Old Days” on Block Island

1999 Summary of Diamondback Terrapin Population Study, Hundred Acre Cove, Barrington, RI

Amphibian Monitoring in Rhode Island

Biological Control of Purple Loosestrife at Roger Williams Park Zoo

Burrowing a Better Future: Earthworms and the Life of the Soil

The Class of 1996

Diamondback Terrapin Research in Barrington: History & Future Direction

Ecology and Management of Mosquitoes and Eastern Equine Encephalitis

Fishers in Rhode Island

Flora Conservanda: New England

Freshwater Mussels in Worden Pond: Is There a Problem?

From Distant Shores: Another Invader In The Bay

Great Horned Owls Nest in Sequoia at Blithewold

Hydrology of the Matunuck Hills Pond

The Intertidal Wolf Spiders of Narragansett Bay

An Invasive Red Seaweed Enters Narragansett Bay

An Invasive Red Seaweed, Grateloupia doryphora, Spreads throughout
Narragansett Bay and Contiguous Waters: An update.

An Inventory of Rhode Island Odonates

Looking for Low D.O: An All Night Adventure

Monitoring Amphibian Communities in Southern Rhode Island

Monitoring Narragansett Bay: A Joint State/Federal Program

The North Cape Oil Spill: Some FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions)
Numbers of Fall Migrant Songbirds Declining on Block Island

The Piping Plover in Rhode Island

Postglacial Vegetation Change in Southeastern New England

Prairie in New England?

Protecting Plant Diversity with a Geographic Information Systems

Proposed Additions to the Biota of Rhode Island: I. “A Numerous Company of Weeds”

Protistan Responses to Oil Contamination

Rare and Endemic Rhode Island Beetles

The Rhode Island Cilioprotist Micrograzer Survey:
A student-assisted multimedia archive for teaching, research, and environmental management

Rhode Island Goes Dry: The Drought of 1999

Rhode Island Odonata Atlas Project

Rhode Island Odonata Atlas Project: 1999 Results

Rhode Island’s Colonial Nesting Birds

Status of the Rhode Island Butterfly Survey

Status of the Rhode Island Butterfly Survey: an Update

The Submerged Flora in Trustom Pond is Changing

The Use of Macroinvertebrates as Water Quality Indicators

Why a Rhode Island Natural History Survey Makes Good Sense/Cents

Why Create a Rhode Island Natural History Survey?

 

Rhode Island Collections

The Stuckey Slide Collection

Harry S. Hathaway Library of Natural History of the Audubon Society
of Rhode Island

Rhode Island Invasive Species Council: A Cooperative Effort

The Brown Herbarium

The Collections of the Audubon Society of Rhode Island

The Diatom Collections in Rhode Island

The Elizabeth Dickens Bird Collection

The Geology and Paleontology Collections of the Museum of Natural History at Roger Williams Park, Providence

The Moses Brown School 1861 Bird Tableau

Museum Completes Bird Collection Conservation Project

The Philip R. Pearson Collection

The Reichart Collection

RINHS Helps “Discover” Important Study Skin Collection

The Rhode Island Beetle Fauna: Past, Present and Future

The Rhode Island Herpetological Record
The URIZ Fish Collection

Book Reviews

Much more than a field guide: Review of Coastal Plants from Cape Cod to Cape Canaveral
Review: The Ecology of Atlantic Shorelines
Silk Purse Documents Biodiversity: Inaugural Volume in the Biota of Rhode Island Series Makes Its Debut


Review: Much more than a field guide by Charles Roman RINHewS 6(2):13 [November 1999]Coastal Plants from Cape Cod to Cape Canaveral by Irene H. Stuckey and Lisa Lofland Gould. 2000. The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC. 305 pp. Cloth $29.95, paper $14.95.As I began reading, I asked, “Why do we need another guide to coastal flora?” There are many very good field guides available, some pertaining to particular regions along the Atlantic and Gulf coast and others that are for individual coastal states or specific habitat types. The answer became clear after just a few pages that Coastal Plants from Cape Cod to Cape Canaveral is different from the others. In fact, it’s much more than a field guide. One hundred twenty-five plants are described in detail, each with a striking color photograph, information on taxonomy and nomenclature, comments on range and habitat requirements, then some details on key distinguishing characteristics, such as leaf shape, branching pattern, flower and/or fruit type and color, and height.Most field guides end here, but Stuckey and Gould go to another level.For each species described, there are descriptive notes on similar or easily confused species, a feature that will be especially useful to the field botanist. And further, there are extensive comments and anecdotes on each plant, such as descriptions of wildlife uses, pertinent facts on nomenclature changes or derivation of a common name, and interesting remarks on both historical and current human uses. Each plant described encompasses two to three pages packed with information, not the single paragraph typical of many guides.Stuckey and Gould define the scope of their book with a readable introductory discussion on vegetation patterns and fundamental processes of major habitats encountered along the Atlantic U. S. coast. Plants of beaches and mudflats, rocky shores, aquatic beds, coastal cliffs, dunes, tidal wetlands, coastal freshwater habitats (swamps, marshes, ponds, streams, bogs, fens, pocosins), and coastal uplands (scrublands, thickets, old fields, meadows, savannas) are included. The introduction also provides some practical advice on leading and participating in coastal field trips, a feature that I’ve not encountered in other guides. Finally, a list of publicly owned coastal places directs the field botanist to some wonderful natural areas for observing the diversity of coastal habitats from Massachusetts to Florida.Stuckey and Gould have successfully transferred their extensive knowledge of coastal flora and decades of experience to a book that will be a useful companion in the field or while keying out plants in the lab. Amateur plant enthusiasts, scientists, and others with an interest in coastal flora will find this a welcome addition to their bookshelves.Charles D. Roman, Ph.D., is a coastal ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, stationed at the University of Rhode Island’s Coastal Institute in Narragansett.

This article first appeared in WildFloraRI (the newsletter of the Rhode Island Wild Plant Society), April 2001.

Review: The Ecology of AtlanticShorelines by Candace Oviatt RINHewS 6(2):13 [November 1999]

Bertness, Mark D., with illustrations by Kelly Benoit Bird. 1999. The Ecology of Atlantic Shorelines. Sinauer Associates, Inc. Sunderland, MA. USA 01375. 417p. ISBN. 0-87893-056-6 ($39.95 pbk)

Two kinds of books are typically written about the seashore. The most common include charming, usually nicely illustrated, natural history books which often point out detrimental anthropogenic impacts. The other category includes the serious, and not so serious, scientific identification handbooks and guides which may serve beachcombers to taxonomic experts.

Mark Bertness has written a book which, for the first time, presents a serious scientific examination of the ecology of the Atlantic shoreline, supported by excellent illustrations. In his preface he notes that no such introduction to this shore has been available, although an earlier book, by Tom Carefoot, does address the ecology of Pacific seashores. This book is aimed at undergraduate ecologists but is written in a readable, non-jargon style, making it available to all who might have an interest in the organization and patterning of shore communities.

The book, in seven chapters, has two categories. The first four chapters deal with the basic ecology of shore habitats and the last three chapters describe specific communities. Chapter One describes the origin of the east coast of North America and physical forcing factors: ice, shifting sediment, tides, waves, and the surprising importance of introduced species. Chapter Two deals with production and consumption, and provides an overview of primary producers, the role of consumers in structuring communities, and how prey defend against predators. Chapter Three gives an original presentation of how recruitment strategies impact community assemblages. In this chapter, Bertness points out that external fertilization, which is common in marine organisms, is not an efficient process! Chapter Four examines zonation processes in shore habitats. The last three chapters describe rocky shores, soft-sediment habitats, and salt marsh communities, respectively. These chapters dissect the physical forcing functions and species-species interactions describing many that were new to me. In these chapters, 24% of the rocky shore illustrations, 32% of the soft-sediment illustrations, and 25% of the salt marsh community illustrations detail these structuring, species interactions. Much of Bertness’ own research has been directed at puzzling out these interactions in salt marshes; the discussion of positive interactions in this habitat is particularly revealing.

Some weaknesses exist, particularly inaccuracies in the illustrations. Chapter Two suggests a less comprehensive knowledge than is apparent in other chapters. For example, diatoms and dinoflagellates are nowhere near as abundant as picoplankton; critical depth is not the same as compensation depth. Many illustrations have inaccuracies. For example, p. 43, Fig. 5, blue light should penetrate to greatest depths and red light only to shallow depths, not vice versa; p. 269, Macoma looks like Nucula; p. 280-281, these two amphipods actually have the same body type, not the differences shown; these same creatures appear again on p. 356, now as detritivores and scavengers in a different community. While these minor problems occur, they do not really detract from the high quality of the book.

Much of the book is original, reflecting ongoing research and current information. The references are up to date and thorough. The simple, elegant illustrations add to the quality of the book. Anybody with an interest in shoreline ecology should have a copy of this book.

The Ecology of Atlantic Shorelines is available through the RINHS Publications Catalogue. RINHS members receive a 10% discount on publication sales.

Candace Oviatt is Professor of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island, and serves on the RINHS Board of Directors.

Silk Purse Documents Biodiversity: Inaugural Volume in the Biota of Rhode Island Series Makes Its Debut by Keith T. Killingbeck. RINHewS 5(2):1; 13 [November 1998]

Vascular Flora of Rhode Island: A List of Native and Naturalized Plants.Volume 1 of the Biota of Rhode Island

Lisa L. Gould, Richard W. Enser, Richard L. Champlin, and Irene H. Stuckey. 1998. Rhode Island Natural History Survey, Kingston, RI.

Sitting on my desk is a 75-page document published in 1952. It has no binding. Each page is pierced with three holes to accept the rings of a binder. Its pages were once white, but long ago took on the faded tan of a weathered leather baseball. The text is typed, not typeset, and the map of Rhode Island that nearly fills the blue paper cover is two generations short of GIS-quality. Slick it is not. But value, as beauty, is in the eye of the beholder and this volume is as precious to me as any I own. You see, the book is The Flora of Rhode Island and the copy that graces my desk was given to me many years ago by its author, the late Elmer Palmatier.

Also on my desk sits the 268-page visual antithesis of Palmatier’s timeworn contribution. Expertly bound. Crisp white pages. Computer-generated, typeset text adorned by an artistically striking cover. Slick it is. This botanical version of the proverbial silk purse is Volume 1 of The Biota of Rhode Island Series (Gould, L. L., R. W. Enser, R. L. Champlin, and I. H. Stuckey. 1998. Vascular Flora of Rhode Island: A List of Native and Naturalized Plants. Rhode Island Natural History Survey, Kingston, RI). From its inception, the development of this new Flora was a joint venture of the Rhode Island Wild Plant Society and the Rhode Island Natural History Survey.

The new Flora recognizes 1618 native and naturalized vascular plant species, which is 35 more than Palmatier, and 309 more than the original state list written by James Bennett in 1888. An additional 362 species are included in three categories titled “not fully naturalized,” “documented only with field notes,” and “listed in literature but we feel are not here.” The number of non-native species listed (537) is 30 higher than the recent estimate of Gil George (George, G. 1995. Rhode Island Botanical Survey. Gil George, Providence, RI), who was involved in the early stages of the development of the new Flora. The sequence in which species appear, along with much of the taxonomic nomenclature, follows the preeminent vascular plant manual of our time for this part of the world: Gleason, H. and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada, Second Edition. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, NY.

Is the Flora just a list, you ask? Well, it depends on how you define “list” (excuse my foray into the abysmal netherworld of presidential legalese). The plant list is clearly the central framework of the Flora, but draped upon this superstructure is a wealth of additional botany and ecology. Included in this bonus is an insightful description and analysis of the phytogeography of our state by Rick Enser.

For all taxa listed in the Flora, the following information is provided: the page on which the plant is described in Gleason and Cronquist, current scientific name, synonyms, most likely used common name(s) in Rhode Island, habit and life form, wetland indicator status, geographic origin, and relative abundance within the state. Abbreviations are utilized effectively to impart information on the latter four categories. For example, the habit and life form of a native perennial tree would be indicated by the abbreviation “NPT.” To spare us from becoming hypothermic from the incessant breeze created by continually flipping back to the Introduction to look up what Abundance Level III means, the authors cleverly developed a 5″ x 11″ pullout card that comes with every book and contains the detailed descriptions of all 40 categorical abbreviations.

So, you are sitting at home curled up with your well-worn Gleason and Cronquist asking yourself, “do I really need this new Flora when I already have the ‘bible’ of eastern plants?” I am certainly the last one to be able to answer that question, but consider this. It’s late on a Friday afternoon and a friend in Woonsocket calls you to go botanizing. You are able to identify everything to species except three plants. The first is an odd-looking herbaceous plant with milky sap. You turn to your botanical safety net, Gleason and Cronquist, and key the specimen to the genus Euphorbia. Home free? Not a chance. It turns out that there are 32 species of Euphorbia in the geographical region covered by Gleason and Cronquist. As the two of you are wrestling with the species identification, a delivery truck whizzes by, hits a pothole the size of an herbarium cabinet, and disgorges a hermetically-sealed copy of the new Flora. Imagine that. You rip off the plastic and find that there are only eight species of Euphorbia in Rhode Island. You then proceed to eliminate the non-Rhode Island species from Gleason and Cronquist and easily navigate your way to Euphorbia vermiculata.

The second unknown keys out to the genus Clematis. Seventeen species in Gleason and Cronquist, but only three in the new Flora. Easier yet.

Finally, the third specimen keys out to Stipa. Three species in Gleason and Cronquist, but only one in the new Flora. Bingo. It’s Stipa comata, Needle-and-thread Grass.

Overstated? Maybe. It is possible that the Stipa found in Woonsocket was a species other than S. comata that had just made its way into the state, or was here all along and was merely overlooked. That is unlikely, but possible. The point is, though, that a credible state flora, or fauna, or biota is an absolutely invaluable tool for anyone interested in species identification. That is one of the many reasons why the Rhode Island Natural History Survey has embraced the challenge of publishing a comprehensive Biota Series for our state. Volume 2 detailing the vertebrates will appear next year, followed by as many volumes as it takes to inventory every taxonomically unique evidence of entropy in our state.

The new Flora will be widely considered the replacement of Elmer Palmatier’s 1952 publication. In some sense, that may be true. But in fact, it is its successor, not its replacement. Both are irreplaceable, time-specific benchmarks in the annals of Rhode Island botany. Plant species are dynamic, not static. So should be the books that describe them. Elmer clearly viewed his book as a work in progress, and without question would want to be the first in line to purchase the new Flora. To see that the book was dedicated to him would bring a tear, and a smile. Classy dedication, classy book.

Vascular Flora of Rhode Island: A List of Native and Naturalized Plants is available through the RINHS Publications Catalogue. RINHS members receive a 10% discount on publication sales.

Keith T. Killingbeck is secretary of the RINHS Board of Directors, and a professor in the URI Department of Biological Sciences.

In Memoriam Articles

Michael A. Gardner
Mark D. Gould
Douglas L. Kraus
Elmer A. Palmatier
Charles V. Reichart
Irene H. Stuckey
Donald J. Zinn


Irene H. Stuckey 1911-2001
RINHewS 8(2):12 [December 2001]

Irene Hawkins Stuckey, well-known in Rhode Island for her stunning photography and
fascinating plant lore, died in Nashville, Tennessee on November 10, 2001 at the age of 90.

The daughter of Henry Perkins Stuckey and Cornelia Childress Martin, Irene grew up on the grounds of the Georgia Agricultural Experiment Station in Griffin, Georgia, where her father was horticulturist and then director. It was here that Irene developed a love of plants that would last a lifetime.

Irene receiveda B.A. from Vanderbilt University, graduating magna cum laude with a major in chemistry and minor in mathematics. Her doctoral work was done at Cornell University, where she earned a joint degree in cytology and plant physiology, with a minor in bacteriology. Irene came to Rhode Island in the summer of 1937 and worked for over forty years
as a full-time faculty researcher at the University of Rhode Island. Her initial appointment at the University was as assistant plant physiologist with the Agricultural Experiment Station. Here she studied basic and applied aspects of forage crop production, pasture renovation, and bentgrass breeding, also working with nursery stock, potatoes, celery, cotton, and other plants.

The work was varied: Irene loved to tell the story of how, during World War II, she and a colleague were among the few faculty members remaining at the Experiment Station. They were asked to stabilize the sandy soil at the Quonset Point airfield, where sands were blowing into the airplane engines and causing respiratory ailments among the men stationed there. While working among the ammunition mounds and embankments at the airfield, they literally had to keep a low profile to avoid being part of the target during the soldiers’ target practice!

In the decades following WWII, dairy farming and the need for pastures declined in Rhode Island, and Irene’s work shifted to the conservation of native plants and to saltmarsh ecology. It was Irene who laid out the trails at the Nettie Jones Nature Preserve shortly after the W. Alton Jones Campus in West Greenwich was donated to URI, and she led wild flower walks there for 33 years.

Products of Irene’s native plant research and burgeoning interest in nature photography include her pamphlet Endangered Plants of Rhode Island and the classic Rhode Island Wildflowers, which was published in 1967 and won a national graphic arts award. Renowned for their beauty and technical detail, Irene’s photographs also appeared in professional articles, the Providence Journal-Bulletin, Natural History, the USDA Yearbook of Agriculture, and in publications of The Nature Conservancy and World Wildlife Fund. Her photographs are a treasure not only for their technical quality, but also because of the data they contain: they are records of when and where hundreds of species of plants, invertebrates, fungi, and birds could be found in Rhode Island over a forty-year period. RINHS is in the process of entering those records in its Biota of Rhode
Island databases.

In 1975 Irene began a series of articles, “Plants Beside the Sea,” in URI’s Graduate School of Oceanography magazine, Maritimes. Each article featured a plant that grew in Rhode Island coastal habitats and included a photo of the plant and a lengthy explanation of the plants’s diagnostic and ecological characteristics. The last and sixty-first of those articles was published 20 years later, in 1995. At the encouragement of the late Polly Matzinger, first editor of Maritimes, Irene decided
to put the Maritimes articles into book form. The result of that work–Coastal Plants from Cape Cod to Cape Canaveral, co-authored with Lisa Gould and published by the University of North Carolina Press–includes plants far beyond the original Rhode Island borders and was celebrated at a combined book-signing and 90th birthday party in April 2001.

Irene retired from the University of Rhode Island in 1978, but evidently no one ever told her the meaning of the word “retirement,” as she continued full-steam, leading walks, giving lectures, consulting on wetland assessment and restoration projects, writing articles, preparing slide programs for elementary school children, adding to her extensive slide collections, and helping to prepare an updated list of Rhode Island’s flora [Vascular Flora of Rhode Island was published by the Rhode Island Natural History Survey in 1998].

Irene was always generous with her knowledge and especially enjoyed helping young people get started in research. Her prodigious memory was legendary: she could remember details of field trips, plant sightings, conversations, meals, and weather from decades ago. As a field botanist who loved “to feel the land with my feet,” she had a passion for accuracy, a
desire to know for herself, from living experience, what was happening in the lives of the organisms she studied. She scoffed at scientists who knew animals and plants only from long-dead specimens and the writings of others.

Irene was also known for her willingness to state things as she saw them. One colleague recalls a field trip Irene led through a salt marsh. When Irene showed the group a species of snail crucial to the marsh’s functioning, one man asked her, “Just how important is this little snail?” Irene replied, “Just about as important as you are.”

Irene received the Rhode Island Natural History Survey’s first “Distinguished Naturalist Award,” in recognition of a lifetime spent furthering our knowledge of Rhode Island’s plants and habitats, and her tireless work to share that knowledge, and her enthusiasm and respect for the natural world, with her peers and the public. She will be sorely missed.

Donations in Irene’s memory can be made to the URI Foundation, earmarked for “The Irene Stuckey Endowment Fund for the Nettie Jones Nature Preserve,” and sent to: URI Foundation, Davis Hall, URI, Kingston RI 02881.

Photo and text by Lisa L. Gould, executive director of the Rhode Island Natural History Survey and research associate, URI Department of Natural Resources Science.

 

Michael A. Gardner
RINHewS 6(1):15 [April 1999]

Michael A. Gardner, natural history collection consultant and former associate curator at the Museum of Natural History, Roger Williams Park, passed away on February 23, 1999, at the age of 50. A native of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, Michael had a life-long interest in the natural world, particularly in birds and orchids. He was a long-time member of the Audubon Society of Rhode Island and the American Orchid Society. He held the post of associate curator at the Museum of Natural History from 1989-1994, and served as a consultant to the Museum in 1996, under a grant from the Nuttall Ornithological Club. In that time he conducted intensive taxonomic updating, identification, cataloging, and conservation of the Museum’s 5500 specimen bird collection. He also contributed the avian and botanical components to two major exhibits at the Museum: Narragansett Bay\ Worlds (1990-1997) and Natural Selections (1992-present), as well as offering many museum programs on birds.

Michael also served as training consultant for the conservation of two historic bird collections in the state: the Elizabeth Dickens Collection at the Block Island School in 1993,and the Edward Sturtevant Collection of the Norman Bird Sanctuary and Museum in 1994-1995. In 1996 he identified and catalogued the mounted bird specimens in the wall tableau located in the Stanley Ward Room at Moses Brown School in Providence. This assemblage, the oldest bird collection in Rhode Island, has an installation date of March 1861, as documented by a newspaper discovered by Michael in the floor of the tableau.
Michael was an ardent field naturalist who kept careful records of the birds that visited the many feeding stations and nest boxes he diligently maintained at home. In addition to growing a variety of orchid species, he also excelled at nature photography and color drawings of birds and mammals. For his quiet stewardship of Rhode Island’s living and preserved avifauna, his unabashed exuberance and passion for nature, and his wit, humor, and creativity, Michael Gardner will be sorely missed.

Prepared by Marilyn Massaro, Michael Gardner’s fiancée and companion of ten years. Marilyn is Curator at the Museum of Natural History at Roger Williams Park, and serves on the RINHS Board of Directors.

 

Mark D. Gould 1946 – 1999
RINHewS 6(2):14-15 [November 1999]

Waist deep in the Roger Williams University pond, a goofy hat on his head, all but disappearing in huge waders, covered with muck and surrounded by eager students…or leading a field trip, followed by out-of-breath students desperately trying to keep up with him–that is how many of us will fondly remember Mark Gould: teacher, friend, environmentalist, and splendid human being.

His sudden and unexpected death from a heart attack on June 9, 1999, at the age of 53, has left an immense void. The overwhelming shock and sadness reverberated through Rhode Island and beyond. To understand the impact Mark had on our lives one only had to listen to the testimonial comments made during his memorial service. A huge gathering of students, fellow faculty members, administrators, scientists, local fishermen, friends and family members poured out their grief, their deep sense of loss, their love and admiration for him.
Although born in Washington D.C., Mark was in fact a Rhode Islander at heart. He spent his early years in Newport, moved to South County in the late sixties and later chose to remain there with his family. He attended the University of Rhode Island from which he obtained bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. From the beginning of his career at Roger Williams University in 1973 Mark was an effective leader. His energy and tireless work contributed to the success of the Marine Biology program and to the planning and development to the new science building. He was Division Coordinator of the Natural Sciences from 1978 to 1990, Dean of the School of Science and Mathematics from 1990 to 1994, and Dean of the College of Arts and Science from1994 to 1997. From 1997 until his death he was the Director of the Center for Economic and Environmental Development.

First and foremost Mark was a teacher. He taught Invertebrate Zoology and several other advanced ecology courses, and was honored by the students with the Teacher of the Year award from1985 to 1988. “Tough Love” would accurately describe his teacher-student philosophy. He challenged his students to think for themselves in a logical and scientific manner. He loathed “fuzzy thinking,” insisted on rigor and would liberally use his K.I.S.S. stamp (Keep It Simple Stupid) on student papers. His teaching was full of levity. He was infamous for the Halloween costumes he wore to class and for the impossible April Fool’s Day pop quizzes that students appreciated only after they realized they were bogus. He truly loved teaching and helping students realize their goals. This was evident in what his students said about him: “Mark Gould was the type of man who surrounded you with a wave of inspiration. He taught me to find answers by seeking the questions I had forgotten to ask” (Katie Fisher); “Mark had a gift for empowering other people”(Michael Baron); “Mark was my friend before he was my teacher” (Jenn Eral); and from an alumnus: “Without his mentorship and guidance, I wouldn’t be where I am now in my career. He gave me the chance that eventually changed my life around.” Michelle Burke vividly remembers one of his first comments to her: “I want to see you elbow-deep in gunk, I want to see you get your hands wet and dirty, so you have to clean the dirt from underneath your fingernails.” And so, carried by Mark’s enthusiasm, she dug in.

As a colleague, Mark was someone you could trust, count on, and bring your troubles to. He always had time to listen and to offer helpful and positive solutions. His passion and enthusiasm were contagious and inspirational. His whimsical sense of humor helped create a relaxed and gratifying learning environment. Many of you will remember his office, “the junkyard” as he called it, which was a museum to others. Visitors, including parents and prospective students, were fascinated by the quaint and incongruous collection of items, biological or otherwise, he had accumulated over the years. How he found anything there was a mystery to all, but he knew where everything was–at any time he could locate the very document, scientific article, or information one was seeking.

Mark was also a dedicated environmentalist who made significant contributions to many organizations. He was a member of numerous environmental groups including the Pawcatuck River Advisory Board, the Scientific Advisory Board for Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, and RIDEM Pesticide Relief Board; he also served on the board of directors for the Rhode Island Natural History Survey (of which he was a founding member) and Save the Bay, and was Chair of the Rhode Island contingent to implement part of the Clean Water Act.

In addition, he was a member of the Ecological Society of America, Society of Nematologists, Sigma Xi, AAAS, American Fisheries Society, the Rhode Island Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy, the Rhode Island Wild Plant Society, and other professional and local organizations. He also pursued several research interests and was the author of a number of scientific publications on ecological topics.

In addition to his educational and scientific accomplishments, Mark led a rich personal life. He lived with his wife Lisa and daughters Hannah and Meggan on the Queen’s River in Usquepaugh, where he found peace and contentment. His strong moral values helped foster deep, loving, family bonds and an acute sense of community service. His family’s generosity and desire to help others was marked by personal commitment which included welcoming into their home individuals or families in need of help. He had also found a spiritual outlet for his philosophy of life in Quakerism. He, along with his family, joined the Westerly Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends and rapidly became involved as influential members at the local, regional, and national level.

We have lost a cherished colleague and friend as well as a valued member of the academic and scientific communities. We will miss his energy, his enthusiasm and passion for the environment, and his endless dedication to students and to Rhode Island. In a statement to the Roger Williams University community, President Anthony Santoro summed up our loss: “Mark’s passing is a devastating blow to the university he so capably helped lead for many years. His enthusiasm for Roger Williams and his profession knew no limits. The most serious blow, of course, is to the scores of future students who will be denied the opportunity to work with Mark.” The sadness was echoed by Lucas Marks in a letter written to Mark the day after his death: “To Mark, …I wish you could have met my parents. They wanted to meet the man that meant so much to their son. I knew they would have loved you as much as I did. I miss you and will remember you always.”

Martine Villalard-Bohnsack and Thomas Holstein are with the Department of Biology at Roger Williams University.

Memorial Funds & Scholarships:
Three funds have been set up in Mark’s memory:
1) Rhode Island Natural History Survey, to further the “Biota of Rhode Island” Project. Donations may be sent to: RINHS, C.E. Education Center, 3 East Alumni Avenue, URI, Kingston, RI 02881
2) Mark Gould Scholarship Fund for Environmental Education, established by the Environment Council of Rhode Island Education Fund. Donations may be sent to: ECRI Education Fund, Box 40568, Providence, RI 02940. The first scholarships from this fund were awarded on May 7, at the Earth Day celebration at Goddard Park, Warwick, RI.
3) The Mark Gould Memorial Scholarship and Research Fund established by Roger Williams University. Donations may be sent to: Roger Williams University, Office of Development, Attn: The Mark Gould Memorial Scholarship and Research Fund, One Old Ferry Road, Bristol, RI 02809.
Douglas L. Kraus
RINHewS 7(1):10-11 [April 2000]

Rhode Island’s natural history community lost a long-time friend in late February with the death of Dr. Douglas L. Kraus of Kingston. He was 87. Dr. Kraus was Rhode IslandÍs most venerable bird student and the recipient of the RINHS 1998 Distinguished Naturalist Award. Known to most birders as simply “Doug,” his tenure as an active birder ran for 76 years, 1924-2000, the longest on record in Rhode Island.

Doug Kraus came to Providence as a boy in 1924, when his father accepted a position teaching Chemistry at Brown University. Already interested in birds, he developed his birding skills through the early 1930s as a member of the Audubon Society of Rhode Island (ASRI) and leader of birding field trips for the SocietyÍs education committee. Graduating from Brown in chemistry, he went to California in 1934 to work on a Ph.D. and graduated from UC Berkeley in 1937. Coming back to Rhode Island, he took a job teaching at URI in 1938. Birds continued to be his consuming avocational interest, and his position at URI set the stage for an unparalleled ornithological reconnaissance of South County and nearby regions in the coming decades. In 1939 he was among the several founders of the Rhode Island Ornithological Club (RIOC) and he remained one of its staunchest members for more than 60 years.

Living in Kingston and Wakefield initially, he eventually bought an overgrown farm just east of Kingston village in 1950, from which he continued his constant field trips for birds to the South County coastal area and elsewhere. While not among the founders of the Kingston-based Little Rest Bird Club, he was for many decades the chair of the clubÍs program of public field trips and screen tour lectures. In 1940 he organized the first annual Christmas bird count centered in the Kingston area for the National Audubon Society and he continued as its coordinator through December, 1999. He began mist-netting and banding birds on his farm in 1956 and kept up his “banding station” nearly to the end of his life. From about 1933 he kept an exceedingly detailed and meticulous set of books that recorded birds and other wildlife that he and others encountered in the field; these records now constitute the largest single-person trove of specific data on the state’s birdlife in existence. In the course of searching for birds he discovered two species never previously known to nest in Rhode Island, and found an unparalleled series of non-breeding rarities including innumerable out-of-season stragglers and lingerers. He added more new species to the approved state list of birds than any other observer. His records of nesting birds such as Grasshopper, Henslow’s, and Vesper Sparrows, once locally common but now rare or extirpated, are classic. On his farm he was surrounded by abundant wildlife, most of which were noted in his record books. The huge garden he maintained for decades (asparagus a specialty) was one of the few with an electric fence for woodchucks. Foxes came out to eat at his feet, milk snakes lived in the well, and his dazzling bird-feeding operation attracted everything from wintering Brown Thrashers and Dickcissels to Rusty Blackbirds and even a western Brewer’s Blackbird.Living as he did for 45 years in an original-condition 200-year old farmhouse out of auditory range of the highway, he lived an idyllic life scarcely imaginable to harassed moderns. To those of us who regularly visited there, it was a world apart. His knowledge of South County’s natural habitats and the history of changes in that landscape was impressive. For over half a century he watched with sadness as much that was reasonably natural in southern Rhode Island became degraded by development. In 1998 he described the state of the natural world in his beloved South County as “about half destroyed.”

Doug Kraus kept up his interest in Rhode Island’s birds until the last; he was still leading public birding trips into his 85th year. Gradually more troubled by health issues, he was nevertheless out in the field searching for unusual birds within his last few weeks of life. A perennial member of the board of directors of ASRI, he made arrangements a little more than a year before he died to give his 84-acre farm and a substantial endowment to ASRI and URI, with the farm to be operated jointly as the Kingston Wildlife Research Station (KWRS). Under the direction of URI Professor Peter Paton, students took over Doug’s banding activities (assisted by Doug himself) and have begun to initiate other studies of birds. Sizable pieces of wooded property are now rare this close to the university, and KWRS will undoubtedly grow in importance for student and faculty research in the coming decades.

The overall legacy of Doug Kraus in the Rhode Island birding world cannot be underestimated. The state’s field ornithology could be divided into perhaps three eras of roughly equal extent: (1) a primitive era, 1850-1899, as recorded in Howe and Sturtevant’s Birds of Rhode Island (1899); (2) a Hathaway era (after the legendary Warwick native Harry S. Hathaway, who led Rhode Island’s field ornithologists from around the turn of the century until around 1940); and (3) a modern era dominated by charter members of the RIOC including Kraus. This last era could easily be considered the Doug Kraus era of Rhode Island field ornithology, in which his leadership has been entirely by example. His energetic pursuit of birds in the field as well as his scholarly attention to bird identification has known no equals. No Rhode Islander has had a more indefatigable interest in discovering new aspects about Rhode Island birds or left behind such a sizable amount of information about them. Also left behind are a large coterie of friends and associates of many years who can scarcely imagine a Rhode Island birding scene without the familiar face, quiet demeanor, ready good humor, and cutting-edge knowledge of birds that they found in Doug Kraus. The Research Station, his innumerable friends, and volumes of information are among the lasting legacies of a life well-lived. The Japanese government has a tradition of declaring persons with specialized skills and great traditional knowledge as “national treasures.” Doug Kraus was that kind of person. The Rhode Island birding community, like Alexander-the-Great’s army, has lost its reigning king. He is missed by many.

Richard Ferren is author of The Birds of Rhode Island (in preparation) and is a member of the RINHS.

Elmer A. Palmatier 23 September 1912–16 December 1995
RINHewS 3(1):10-11 [April 1996]

“Elmer the botanist.” That was the signature at the bottom of a letter written on 8 August 1994 to, of all people, Ann Landers. It seems that Ann didn’t quite understand the subtle differences between the beans from plants in the family Fabaceae, and say, jelly beans. A letter published earlier that year in her syndicated column had proved to be a milestone, since, for the first time ever, coffee beans and cola nuts were thrust into the legume family. Well, that was just too much for Elmer. His letter of response kindly suggested that Ann’s grasp of botanical facts was woefully inadequate and needed major modification.

As I thought about this letter that I found mixed in with the many books donated in his name to the University of Rhode Island, it dawned on me that Elmer was right on two counts. He was clearly right about the misinformation that caught his eye in the newspaper, but more importantly, he was right about his self-assigned moniker: “Elmer, the botanist.” In his professional career and in much of his personal life, Elmer was, above all, the consummate botanist.

Elmer was born in Tacoma, Washington, but his botanical roots were in the prairie. Ord, Nebraska, a tiny town in the middle of North America’s sea of grass, was his home. Formal training in botany began at the University of Nebraska where, in 1935, Elmer earned a Master of Science degree. Ithaca, New York was the next stop on his road to Rhode Island. At Cornell University, Elmer earned his Ph.D. under the guidance of Dr. Arthur J. Eames and a host of eminent botanists. Plant taxonomy and morphology were the topics that excited him most and were ultimately the focus of his dissertation: “Some Studies on the Floral Anatomy and Morphology of Saxifragaceae.”

His arrival in Rhode Island in 1942 marked the beginning of a long and productive career in the Department of Botany at the University of Rhode Island. A year abroad at the University of Baghdad in Iraq and a year with the National Science Foundation in Washington, DC, punctuated his professional career. His most noted scholarly contribution to thef ield of botany was The Flora of Rhode Island published in 1952, a work that is only now being supplanted by updated treatments. Elmer’s considerable teaching abilities were officially recognized and acclaimed in 1974 when he was awarded the URI President’s Award for Teaching Excellence.

In his 40-year tenure at URI, Elmer shared his knowledge of botany, philosophy, and life with over 12,000 students. He was rightfully proud of that accomplishment and felt fortunate to have touched so many lives. Many of you were students of his. I can see the smiles on your faces as memories of his classes kindle recollections of Elmer in action. I have seen those smiles before. In the aisles of a grocery store. On the campus quadrangle. In the post office. Virtually everywhere Elmer went, former students would hail him, smile, and ask, “Doctor Palmatier, do you remember me from…?” Sometimes the “from” would be followed by “Introductory Botany.” Other times it would be “Field Botany” or “Plant Ecology.” It didn’t matter which, they all remembered him. They still do.

Shortly after I arrived in Rhode Island from the midwest to join the URI Department of Botany, Elmer invited me to join his section of the Field Botany class, which met on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This was my good fortune for I taught the Wednesday/Friday section of Field Botany and I, unlike Elmer, did not have thirty-plus years of experience with the flora of Rhode Island. One bright fall day, Elmer led us across a fence onto the right-of-way of Route 95 at the end of Tefft Hill Trail in the Arcadia Management Area. There grew several species new to the class and ripe for inspection and discussion. To our collective chagrin, a state police car eased onto the shoulder of the highway nearby and rolled to an ominous stop. Slowly, one of Rhode Island’s Finest emerged from the car. Methodically, he approached our huddled mass. We just knew he was intent on having us whisked away to the Adult Correctional Institution for trespassing on state property. His jackboots, razor-creased uniform, and military hat did nothing to ease our fears. When he had strolled the 50 feet from his car to us at a pace that made the retreat of the last ice age look rapid, he looked squarely at Elmer, removed his dark sunglasses, and said, “Hi, Doctor Palmatier, do you remember me from…?” He could have said “our days on Mars?” and none of us would have heard. We were all too busy breathing again.

Even outside the university classroom venue, Elmer taught botany. Saturdays in the fall were often graced by the occurrence of “Serendipity Botany.” Elmer would post fliers announcing these impromptu events and lead enthusiastic followers through the forests and bogs of South County in search of nothing, in search of everything. “The faculty of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for” was an ability Elmer honed to perfection. There is a certain incongruity to the notion that serendipity can be an art or a skill to be nurtured and improved, but finding the unsought is not a trivial endeavor. Of the many lessons Elmer taught his students, appreciation for the unexpected was perhaps one of the most important.
Elmer Palmatier reveled in the unexpected delicacies life has to offer for those who can see them, feel them, hear them, smell them, or imagine them. Always the teacher, always the learner. Elmer, the botanist.

Scholarship Endowment Fund. The Fund will support a scholarship awarded annually to a student in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Rhode Island. The Elmer A. Palmatier Scholarship will be awarded on the basis of academic achievement. Contributions should be directed to the Elmer A. Palmatier Memorial Scholarship Endowment Fund, URI Foundation, 21 Davis Hall, Kingston, RI 02881-0806. Checks should be payable to Account #4264, URI Foundation.
Keith Killingbeck is a Professor of Botany in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Rhode Island. He is also on the Board of Directors of the Rhode Island Natural History Survey and the Rhode Island Wild Plant Society.
The above article is reprinted from the Newsletter of the Rhode Island Wild Plant Society, March 1996.

Memorial Funds and Scholarships:
• To donate to the Elmer A. Palmatier Memorial Scholarship Endowment Fund, make checks payable to: Account #4264, URI Foundation.URI Foundation, 21 Davis Hall, Kingston, RI 02881-0806.
• To apply for a Palmatier Scholarship: An Elmer A. Palmatier Memorial Scholarship will be awarded annually to an outstanding undergraduate in the Department of Biological Sciences.
If you are an undergraduate majoring in one of the degree programs administered by the Department of Biological Sciences and have a GPA >3.0, please consider submitting an application for this prestigious award.
The Elmer A. Palmatier scholarship will be awarded in late spring and will carry with it a monetary stipend. Selection of the awardee will be based on academic achievement. In instances where qualified applicants have very similar levels of achievement, preference will be given to students who have a strong interest in botany.
To be eligible for consideration, please submit an academic transcript along with a letter of application documenting your academic achievements and biological interests. Applications are due in March each year; contact the department for exact dates. Mail applications to: Palmatier Scholarship Selection Committee, Department of Biological Sciences, B-101 BSC, University of Rhode Island.

Charles V. Reichart
RINHewS 4(1):11 [April 1997]

Rev. Charles V. Reichart, O.P, Professor Emeritus of Biology at Providence College, entomologist of international acclaim, and longtime member of the Rhode Island Natural History Survey died on January 17, 1997. He is survived by his sister, Eleanor Burley, a nephew and two nieces and will be missed by them and countless friends and colleagues in the Dominican and academic communities.

Fr. Reichart was born in Zanesville, Ohio to John and Nell Reichart in 1910. Graduating from Providence College in 1931, he received advanced degrees in philosophy at the Dominican House of Studies at River Forest, Illinois in 1935 and in sacred theology in 1939 at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C. His ordination as a Dominican priest in the Order of Preachers in 1938 was followed by graduate study in biology. Fr. Reichart received his Ph.D. from Ohio State University in 1947 and since then has been a member of the Providence College Dominican community and faculty where he chaired the Department of Natural Sciences, the Biology Department, served as Pre-Medical advisor and pursued his entomological research on Hemiptera. Member of Sigma Xi and other honor societies, recipient of honorary degrees, author of numerous publications, he is credited with discovery of several new species of aquatic Hemiptera.

Despite Fr. Reichart’s retirement from the Biology faculty in 1977, he remained active in research until only days before his death. He continued to travel worldwide, and was remarkable in his energy, fascination with and dedication to his research. His enthusiasm was inexhaustible, and he occasionally accompanied other faculty and students on field trips. Most often, however, he quietly and without fanfare, disappeared from the corridors and labs of Albertus Magnus Hall for a few weeks only to reappear with new specimens and photographs from his travels. His collection of thousands of insects which resides at Providence College will be divided and moved to the Smithsonian Institution and Yale University.

Reichart’s contributions to biology and pre-medical education are as far-reaching and significant as are his contributions to entomology. Many Rhode Island physicians and dentists remember his stern visage in the classroom, exacting standards, and straight-forward, no-nonsense advice about preparation for the health professions. He was the founder of the Rhode Island chapter of Alpha Epsilon Delta, the pre-medical honor society and was national treasurer for AED for nearly 30 years. As Fr. Mark Nowel, the present AED advisor, notes, “At one or another time, he was teaching most of the future physicians in Rhode Island. His students knew that he was the hardest teacher they would ever have. But as tough as he was, he had such a soft heart.” While he may have inspired fear in the hearts of his pre-med students, Fr. Reichart’s friendship and guidance was sought and valued by students and faculty who looked past that gruff exterior. One recent graduate who worked in his research lab commented that he became her “surrogate grandfather while she was at PC.” To faculty children he was “Dr. Bugs,” and an invitation to view his collection was a special treat. As Fr. Nowel noted, “he was complex, honest and straightforward, loving, generous and a truly respected scientist.”

His contributions to biology education were formally recognized by his faculty colleagues in the Biology Department with their establishment of the Charles V. Reichart Award, which is presented annually to a graduating senior biology major who “best exemplifies Fr. Reichart’s dedication to the advancement of the biological sciences as evidenced by his scholarship, intellectual curiosity, disciplined perseverance and scientific integrity.” The student recipient of the C.V. Reichart Award is selected on the basis of promise as a scholar in the biological sciences. In 1996, he was further honored by the establishment of a scholarship fund designed to support and strengthen research and the study of biological sciences at Providence College. Reichart was awarded the first President’s Distinguished Faculty Award in September 1995. Faculty from all disciplines applauded the choice which is given to a faculty member whose accomplishments have been widely recognized in his or her field of expertise and who has achieved this scholarly recognition through long and dedicated service to PC. That was Charles V. Reichart.

Carol B. Crafts, Associate Professor, Biology Department, Providence College

Donald J. Zinn 1911 – 1996
RINHewS 4(2):12 [November 1997]


Dr. Donald Joseph Zinn, Professor Eneritus of Zoology at the University of Rhode Island, died of cancer September 18, 1996 in Falmouth, Massachusetts at the age of 85. He was an extraordinary person, an educator, marine biologist, environmentalist, and civic leader.
Don Zinn made many contributions to various fields, but his passion was always natural history and the environment. This led him early in life to discoveries about the invertebrates of sandy beaches and about marine fouling communities. Later he became a leader in the fight to conserve the natural resources of Rhode Island and the nation. He also was a pioneer in aviation physiology during World War II.

He was the husband of Margery (Poole) Zinn. His first wife, Eleanor L. (Blevins) Zinn, died in 1986. In addition to his wife he leaves a brother, two sisters, two sons, four grandchildren, two step-children, two step-grandchildren, and several nieces and nephews.

Zinn earned a bachelor’s degree in Zoology from Harvard College in 1933, then became director of the Bass Biology Laboratory in Englewood, Florida. Following this he moved to Rhode Island, enrolling in what was then Rhode Island State College, and received his Master of Science in Zoology in 1937 for his work on the starfish of Narragansett Bay. From there he went to Yale University for the Ph.D., and studied under one of the greatest ecologists, G. Evelyn Hutchinson. It was at Yale that he began his life-long interest in the animals of sandy beaches–the meiofauna. His doctoral dissertation was a study of a newly-discovered marine interstitial fauna migrating between grains of sand, landward and seaward, with the flow and ebb of the tides.

He returned to Rhode Island after his service in the Army Air Corps, joining the faculty of the Department of Zoology at Rhode Island State College in 1946. Here he continued his studies of beach meiofauna, and added studies of marine fouling communities. During the course of his career he published over 90 articles in scientific and lay journals. He also taught invertebrate zoology, histology, ecology, and taxonomy to generations of U.R.I. students before retiring in 1974. His students were impressed by his demanding courses, attention to detail, quick wit, and passion for puns. He also was a good cook, and often ended laboratory sessions by cooking up the edible subjects that had just been studied.

Don Zinn was the author of two books: A Handbook for Beach Strollers, and Marine Mollusks of Cape Cod. The Handbook was a collection of articles about the natural history of common marine invertebrates written for Maritimes, a magazine published by the Graduate School of Oceanography. The last chapter of the Handbook, entitled “Out of the Sea and onto the Table” gives the scientific and common names of 29 edible invertebrate animals that can be collected in Rhode Island, where to find them, how to eat them, and recipes for some.

Zinn was quick to recognize opportunities to do works of civic improvement and to promote conservation education. The White Pine trees in Kingston’s Potter Woods Park are from seedlings planted one Saturday by the Cub Scouts in Dr. Zinn’s den. The community services he rendered both in Rhode Island and in Falmouth, Massachusetts were many, throughout his lifetime.

It was Zinn’s initiative that started a URI summer workshop in Natural History and Conservation for school teachers in 1952 with funds from the Rhode Island Director of Conservation. The class was in the field four afternoons each week, led by Zinn, Bob Harrison, Elmer Palmatier and Saul Saila, among other Rhode Island natural historians.

His desire to educate the public was not limited to books and articles for laymen. During the 1960s he hosted weekly, early Saturday mornings, a television program about wild animals and conserving natural resources, from a studio on the top floor of the Outlet Department Store in Providence.

In the 1950s Don Zinn began a long association with the National Wildlife Federation. He served as President of the Rhode Island chapter, and in 1961 he was elected Northeast regional director. He served as national president from 1967 to 1970. After 1970 he was a member of the Federation’s Board of Directors. Zinn was a member of far too many other scientific, conservation, and civic organizations to list here.

Don Zinn made significant contributions to Rhode Island natural history and to our understanding of marine animals. His passion for conservation and for educating the public about threats to the environment made him a leader nationwide. His wit, wisdom, and dedication will be sorely missed.

R. W. Harrison and J. Stanley Cobb, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Rhode Island.