Ecological Research in Rhode Island:
Snapshot–Where We Are Today
March 1, 2002
Radisson Airport Hotel, Warwick, RI

FAULT CONTROL OF WATER RESOURCES AND CONTAMINANT FLOW IN BEDROCK AROUND NARRAGANSETT BAY

Patrick J. Barosh, P.J. Barosh and Associates, 103 Aaron Ave., Bristol, RI 02809; pjbarosh@gis.net and Reinhard K. Frohlich, Department of Geology, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI; reinhard_frohlich@uri.edu

Significant groundwater and contaminant flow around Narragansett Bay is controlled by fault zones. Faults control water flow by providing fracture paths in bedrock, paths along lows in the bedrock surface over eroded fault zones, and paths in unconsolidated material within fault controlled buried valleys. Knowledge of these flow paths helps evaluate and protect water resources and predict the direction of contaminant flow for considerable savings. Water wells within faults generally yield ten times those from unfaulted rock. Studies over the past 30 years show Rhode Island to be very faulted, yet few faults appear on published geologic maps. A number are still active and their movement is helping to enlarge the Bay. Some can be directly seen or shown by discontinuities in geologic data, but most are expressed by their thinly covered form using topographic, LandSat, or photographic data. Where they lack expression, such as under lake beds, they can be found by their magnetic, gravity, or seismic expression and their water content evaluated by electric resistivity methods. These methods are fast, cost effective, and have a proven rate of success, if the investigator has considerable experience. Knowledge of fault zones is necessary for a full understanding of the resource and environmental issues concerning water flow in and near bedrock.

THE STATUS OF QUATERNARY GEOLOGIC MAPPING IN RHODE ISLAND

Jon C. Boothroyd RI Geological Survey and Department of Geosciences, University of Rhode Island, 314 Woodward Hall, Kingston, RI 02881; jon_boothroyd@uri.edu

The RI Geological Survey is working toward a Quaternary Geologic Map of Rhode Island, in digital format, to be published at a scale of 1:100,000. This map will complement, but probably not replace, the digital coverage available from the RI Geographic Information System (RIGIS). The RIGIS coverage, called glacial geology but more properly termed a glacial materials coverage, was compiled from 1950-60s era water-resources materials maps. We are using published and open file US Geological Survey (USGS) surficial quadrangles, together with new field mapping at a scale of 1:24,000, to generate the Quaternary map. Metadata is being generated in FGDC format. Quadrangles are being compiled at 1:24,000, again in digital format; morphosequences will be simplified for presentation at 1:100,000. Morphosequences are time-equivalent groups of landforms comprised of stratified material. They form the fundamental stratified-material unit of a glacial geologic map. In addition to the morphosequence mapping, stratigraphic cross-sections are being generated using boring and well-log data. The State is divided into 4 general glacial provinces: 1) thick stratified deposits (south and central), including Narragansett Bay, 2) granitic till upland (northwest), 3) compact till upland (east), and 4) Block Island, a sedimentary complex of till and stratified material. Each province presents a different set of problems for interpreting processes and mapping morphosequences. The thick stratified deposits are of particular importance because of numerous high-yield wells for municipal water supply and turf irrigation, and because of hazardous materials buried in old landfills or disposed of directly on or into stratified material.

WINTER NATURAL HISTORY IMPRESSIONS

Otter Brown and Students at The Wheeler School 216 Hope Street, Providence, RI 02906-2246; otterob@yahoo.com

Eight students and their teacher will display a collage of winter natural history impressions from their weekly winter field trips to the Wheeler Farm in their Field Natural History class. The students’ perspectives will be presented through black and white photographs and captions.

MOVEMENT AND EFFICACY OF METHOPRENE USED FOR WEST NILE VIRUS MOSQUITO MANAGEMENT IN SEWER CATCH BASINS

Mari Butle, Department of Plant Sciences, URI; mbutler@postoffice.uri.edu; lebrun@uri.edu

Alan Gettm, RIDEM, Mosquito Abatement; agettman@dem.state.ri.us

Roger LeBr, Department of Plant Sciences, URI; mbutler@postoffice.uri.edu; lebrun@uri.edu

and Howard Ginsberg, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center and Department of Plant Sciences, URI; ginsberg@uri.edu

Methoprene is an insect growth regulator that interferes with the development of mosquitoes, causing them to die as immatures. We measured persistence and movement of methoprene from catch basins to outflow areas, and we studied the efficacy of methoprene at controlling mosquitoes in lab trials and when applied to sewer catch basins. When applied to catch basins at levels used to control mosquitoes, methoprene concentrations were below mean detectible levels using standard chemical analysis. In laboratory experiments, extremely low levels of methoprene were quite effective at killing immature Culex pipiens, an important vector of West Nile Virus. In the field, less than half of the immature mosquitoes exposed to methoprene molted to adulthood.

RHIZEDRA LUTOSA, A NATURAL ENEMY OF PHRAGMITES AUSTRALIS IN NORTH AMERICA

R. A. Casagrande Department of Plant Sciences, University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island 02881; casa@uri.edu

Rhizedra lutosa (Hubner) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), native to Europe, was first found in North America in 1988 in southern New Jersey. We trapped adults of this insect in Rhode Island in 1995 and in, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York in 1998. We have also found it in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Rhizedra lutosa larvae feed in stems and rhizomes of Phragmites australis growing in dry sites. The insect is reported to cause serious damage to P. australis in the Netherlands, but it now appears to be less important throughout central Europe. Based upon R. lutosa damage surveys and P. australis biomass measurements, we have determined that this insect does cause a reduction of plant growth in some sites. However, because of low moth densities, this effect is small and R. lutosa densities do not appear to be increasing.

RARE? SPARTINA CYNOSUROIDES IS EXPLODING ALONG THE SEEKONK RIVER IN RHODE ISLAND

Grace M. Donnelly BIOSPEC, Inc., Providence, RI 02906; biospec_envirodocs@richmondsq.com

Several species of Spartina are common and easily recognized grasses in our New England salt marshes. Spartina cynosuroides, however, is a rare, robust, and enigmatic species that has an unusual local history and a potentially exciting future. In the late 1950s, S. cynosuroides was unknown along the Seekonk River, in spite of the fact that a small amount was planted at Swan Point, in Providence, RI, sometime during World War II. In September 1982 a narrow zone of S. cynosuroides was growing adjacent to Phragmites from Swan Point south to the mouth of the ravine at Butler Hospital. Concomitantly, a small but vigorous clump was found at Bucklin Point in East Providence, RI. Clearly, in 1982, this rare Spartina was becoming well established along the Seekonk River. No S. cynosuroides was observed on the west shore north of Swan Point in 1982, but by the summer of 2000, there were extensive and numerous colonies on both sides of the river north of Swan Point and into Pawtucket, wherever there was an exposed shoreline. By 2001, S. cynosuroides had replaced Phragmites at Swan Point.

LANDSCAPE-LEVEL FACTORS INFLUENCING THE BREEDING EFFORT OF WOOD FROGS (RANA SYLVATICA) AND SPOTTED SALAMANDERS (AMBYSTOMA MACULATUM) IN RHODE ISLAND

Robert S. Egan and Peter W. C. Paton Department of Natural Resources Science, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI 02881; rega6678@postoffice.uri.edu

During 2000 and 2001, we counted egg masses of Wood Frogs (Rana sylvatica) and Spotted Salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum) at 36 ponds in western Rhode Island to assess the effects of landscape composition on pond-breeding amphibians. Egg mass counts of Wood Frogs were higher in landscapes with more forested uplands and forested wetlands. We could not find any landscape feature that affected Spotted Salamander egg mass counts, but Spotted Salamanders were more likely to be present in landscapes with >12% forest cover within 1000 m of a breeding pond. Roads had a negative impact on Wood Frog populations, with fewer egg masses detected in landscapes with road densities over 12 m per ha (mean patch size of 540.2 ha _ 140.2 [SE]). Similarly, Spotted Salamanders were negatively impacted by road densities >19 m of road per ha (mean patch size of 279.4 ha _ 62.0). This observation concurs with recently developed theoretical models, which show high extinction probabilities following small incremental losses of habitat. Effective conservation of amphibian species including Wood Frogs and Spotted Salamanders, which are currently considered widespread and ubiquitous, must begin before environmental thresholds are exceeded and populations decline to unsustainable levels.

CYPRESS SPURGE BIOLOGICAL CONTROL IN RHODE ISLAND

Heather Faubert and Richard Casagrande Department of Plant Sciences, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI, 02881; hhf@uri.edu

Cypress Spurge (Euphorbia cyparissias) is an herbaceous European perennial introduced into North America as an ornamental plant in the 1860s. The plant escaped cultivation and became established on open ground, particularly in pastures. It tends to form almost pure stands at open sites and is likely to be responsible for the displacement of native species. Cypress Spurge is closely related to Leafy Spurge (Euphorbia esula), another European introduction that causes large economic losses annually in the Great Plains of the United States. Starting in 1961, USDA began looking for natural enemies of leafy and cypress spurge in Europe. After years of host specificity testing, 12 insects were cleared for release in the United States. In 1994, Don and Heather Minto from the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (SPNEA) came to URI wanting to release insects against a serious Cypress Spurge infestation at the Watson Farm in Jamestown. After permits were obtained, six insect species were released at Watson Farm and URI’s W. Alton Jones campus in West Greenwich. Two insect species, Aphthona flava and A. nigriscutis, have succeeded in reducing Cypress Spurge at both locations. In 2000, A. flava beetles were collected and distributed to other Cypress Spurge infestations in Rhode Island.

GEOELECTRICAL AND TEST WELL INVESTIGATION OF GROUNDWATER QUALITY OF A COASTAL INDUSTRIAL SITE (NEWPORT NAVAL BASE)

Reinhard K. Frohlich, Department of Geosciences, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI; reinhard_frohlich@uri.edu

and Daniel W. Urish, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI; urishd@uri.edu

The necessity to clean up groundwater and sediment pollution due to industrial and military causes requires accurate as well as cost-effective assessment. The former shipyard on the Newport Naval base was believed to have released total dissolved solids (TDS), organic compounds, and dissolved metals. Non-invasive and cost-effective geoelectrical depth soundings in conjunction with two nested monitor wells were used to establish the distribution and amount of the contaminants. The glacial sediment, ranging in thickness from 1 to 15 m, is a poorly sorted till of low hydraulic conductivity. The major effort of this investigation concentrated on a 12-m wide strip between a sheet pile bulkhead along the shore and a building in which hazardous chemicals were stored and handled. Other places on this site were unsuitable, as electrically conductive constructions, heat pipes, concrete pavement, and buildings prevented unimpaired geoelectrical measurements. In spite of some poor data quality, four of five surface geoelectrical depth soundings were interpreted with four layers that had the following hydrogeologic correspondence: unsaturated-, freshwater saturated- and saltwater saturated zone, non- conductive bedrock. As clay-sized particles are also expected to contribute to the electrical conduction, basic relationships between bulk layer resistivities (obtained from surface geoelectrics) and water conductivities according to Archie’s law (1952) are not applicable. Instead lab sample measurements were necessary to estimate pore water conductivities and eventually the amount of TDS from observed bulk resistivities. It is not possible to determine the origin of the TDS, whether from salt-water overwash or from industrial activities. Monitor wells, however, showed objectionable amounts of dissolved metals and adsorbed toxic organic compounds.

STUFFIES, BEAVERS AND EUTROPHICATION IN THE SHICKASHEEN WATERSHED

Linda Green, Elizabeth Herron, and Arthur J. Gold Department of Natural Resources Science, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI 02881; lgreen@uri.edu

Volunteers have monitored pond and stream sites in the Shickasheen watershed since 1988. In 1989 significant deterioration began in Yawgoo and Barber ponds, with clarity declining from ~3 m to ~0.5 m and chlorophyll increasing to hypereutrophic levels, due to excessive phosphorus inputs from Shickasheen Brook. The 1990 closure of upstream stuffed clam producers led to significantly improved water quality in both ponds. Water clarity in Yawgoo Pond rebounded to 6 m, and chlorophyll content decreased to oligotrophic levels. This successful recovery was celebrated for several years. By 1997, a decline in water quality was again evident, initially thought due to internal recycling of phosphorus. Since 1998 the phosphorus content of the Shickasheen has averaged >200 ppb, while that of nearby Mud Brook has remained at 16 ppb. Recent site investigations have revealed the presence of a sizable 3-4 year-old beaver dam on the Shickasheen, which flooded upstream Arrow Swamp, a principal receiving water of runoff and groundwater from the former shellfish plants. It is hypothesized that the flooding of this wetland with as much as 1.8 m of water has caused release of previously trapped phosphorus from its now-anaerobic sediments into Shickasheen Brook, leading to eutrophication once again in downstream Yawgoo and Barber Ponds.

URI WATERSHED WATCH: SNAPSHOT OF STATUS AND SUCCESSES

Elizabeth Herron, Linda Green, and Arthur Gold Department of Natural Resources Science, University of Rhode Island, Room 105 Coastal Institute in Kingston, RI 02881; emh@uri.edu, lgreen@uri.edu, and agold@uri.edu

URI Watershed Watch (URIWW) is a scientist-led volunteer monitoring program that focuses on enabling lay monitors to perform ecological monitoring on the water quality of surface water resources throughout Rhode Island, including lakes, ponds, reservoirs, rivers, streams, salt ponds, and coastal beaches. The monitoring season extends from April through October and involves 250+ volunteers on 130+ sites in Rhode Island and Connecticut. Some locations have up to fourteen years of volunteer generated data, representing one of the largest datasets on aquatic conditions in the state. In addition to being the fifteenth year of URIWW monitoring, 2002 holds another significant milestone Ý the thirtieth anniversary of the passage of the Clean Water Act. As such, 2002 has been designated as the Year of Clean Water. Thus, it is good time to look at where we’ve been and where we are headed in terms of water quality and volunteer monitoring in Rhode Island. Some general status and trends of Rhode Island water quality based on the extensive URI Watershed Watch database will be discussed, as well as some successes of volunteer water quality monitoring efforts in Rhode Island. Finally, examples of how volunteers can assist in better understanding Rhode Island’s habitats and ecological diversity will be presented.

RESPONSES OF A MARINE MICROBIAL COMMUNITY TO PETROLEUM HYDROCARBON EXPOSURE

Gaytha A. Langlois Department of Science & Technology, Bryant College, 1150 Douglas Pike, Smithfield, RI 02917; langlois@bryant.edu

Studies of an intertidal microbial community at an oil-contaminated site on Prudence Island, in Narragansett Bay, revealed changes in population dynamics, trophic relationships, species composition, and predation patterns. Field samples, collected over a two-year period, were examined microscopically, protista were identified, and statistical analyses were utilized to characterize population dynamics. Large grazing ciliates dominated oiled samples, and micro-invertebrate predators occurred in smaller numbers. Data from the contaminated site were compared to samples from a control field site, other northeast islands, salt marsh habitats, salt ponds, and previous mesocosm studies conducted at the Marine Ecosystems Laboratory (MERL), Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island. These comparisons were used to assess the impacts of acute chronic oil exposure, and of contamination episodes of different magnitude and duration. These analyses confirm previous findings that the response of a protistan community to low-level exposure to petroleum by hydrocarbons can be described by the Catastrophe Theory model.

LEARNING FROM OAKLAND FOREST, RHODE ISLAND’S FIRST CONFIRMED OLD GROWTH FOREST: A TRUE TREASURE (SLIDE SHOW)

Matthew “Twig” Largess Largess Forestry, Inc., 450 Davit Avenue, Jamestown, RI 02835; largesstree@aol.com

To the average eye, Oakland Farm may appear as simply “a bunch of trees,” but it is actually an old-growth American Beech forest, one of the few remaining in the East. Although not virgin old-growth, Oakland Forest remains pristine and possesses traditional old-growth characteristics including: trees much older than the average age for their species; fallen trees; and trunks clear of branches for 40-80 feet up, indicating the trees grew a long time in a densely shaded forest. Other identifiable signs are: “buttressed roots” and old-growth bark (when many trees surpass 150 years, their bark often changes, i.e., balding, furrowing, and shaggy bark). Amongst the American Beech live other remarkable species including: White Oak cored between 200-300 years old and Scarlet Oak — truly a rarity within New England old-growth forests. Other trees include: Black Tupelo, Sassafras, Red Maple, Pignut Hickory, and Yellow Birch. By some divine spirit (the land is believed to be an ancient Indian ceremonial site), this 20-acre plot, resting on the highest elevation point on Aquidneck Island, has survived snowstorms, hurricanes, and beech bark disease (a disease that desecrated other American Beech forests in New England). Now the forest has survived another threat: condominium development.

A WATERSHED APPROACH TO UNDERSTANDING ANTHROPOGENIC INFLUENCES ON STREAMS AND THEIR RECEIVING SALT MARSHES

S. M. Lussier, C. Wigand, USEPA, Narragansett, RI; lussier.suzanne@epa.gov, wigand.cathleen@epa.gov

S. DaSilv, Department of Natural Resources Science, University of RI, Kingston, RI; sdas5093@postoffice.uri.edu

and M. Charpentier, CSC, c/o EPA, Narragansett, RI; charpentier.mike@epa.gov

Fresh and saltwater ecosystems have customarily been assessed separately. By taking a watershed approach, we are exploring the linkages between stream conditions, the biotic integrity of coastal salt marshes, and land use. Watersheds provide a pathway for point and nonpoint pollutants to travel to coastal salt marshes, yet the effects of their streams on salt marshes may be unclear. Our objectives are to compare indicators of stream condition with analogous indicators of the coastal salt marshes to which they discharge, and to test their correlation over a range of anthropogenic impacts. We used the Rapid Bioassessment Protocol for wadeable streams to collect data for biological, chemicophysical, and habitat indicators in six Rhode Island watersheds along a range of residential land use. We compared our indicators from the streams to the corresponding metrics of structure and integrity from salt marshes in the same watersheds. Preliminary results showed that increased residential land use in watersheds adversely affected conditions in streams and salt marshes. By providing information about how habitat degradation and nutrient enrichment upstream affect salt marshes, our results can help us understand the relationships between conditions in watersheds, their streams, and the salt marshes they feed.

COMBINING ECOLOGICAL AND ECONOMIC INDICATORS TO PRIORITIZE COASTAL WETLAND RESTORATION PROJECTS

Gisele Magnusson, James J. Opaluch, Marisa Mazzotta, Robert J. Johnston, and Enid Kumin Department of Environmental and Natural Resource Economics, 205 Kingston Coastal Institute University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI 02881; gmag8597@postoffice.uri.edu

Restoration and rehabilitation of damaged or degraded ecosystems is an important component of many environmental and natural resource management strategies. Funds, however, are typically insufficient to restore all possible sites, making difficult choices necessary. This paper describes an ongoing interdisciplinary research effort to develop a method that considers both social and ecological goals in prioritizing coastal wetland restoration actions. The research has two main components. The first component, based on a survey of experts, assesses how the characteristics of coastal wetlands affect their potential to provide habitat for various bird and fish species. The second component uses a survey of the public to identify peoples’ values for a variety of wetland services, including services associated with bird and fish habitat, recreation, and mosquito abatement. Early results indicate the public values the services provided by coastal wetland restoration, and that while access generally has a positive value, some limits on access may be acceptable. Results of these components will be combined in a Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping tool that can help decision makers prioritize wetland restoration actions. This tool will allow different restoration objectives to be evaluated, and sites ranked, in terms of both ecological values and social and economic values.

NINE-FOOT BROOK SUB-WATERSHED OF WOONASQUATUCKET RIVER BASIN MACRO-INVERTEBRATE SURVEY

Eugenia Marks and Stacy Hansen Audubon Society of Rhode Island, 12 Sanderson Road, Smithfield, RI 02917; emarks@asri.org

The poster will describe the watershed, which includes the Glocester-Smithfield Regional Landfill and Davis Liquid Dump Superfund sites, and the six stations on Nine- foot Brook that were sampled for macro-invertebrates during the summer of 2001. It will also describe the methodology and list the species found at each site. No attempt to interpret the results will be included.

HAUL-OUT AND SCANNING BEHAVIOR OF THE HARBOR SEAL (Phoca vitulina concolor) FROM ROME POINT, RHODE ISLAND

Katie McKamey Roger Williams University, Box #6285, 1 Old Ferry Road, Bristol, RI 02809; kmckamey@excite.com

A haul-out site of Harbor Seals (Phoca vitulina concolor) was observed from Rome Point, Rhode Island. The stage of tide and number of seals hauled-out was analyzed. A statistically negative correlation between the number of Harbor Seals hauled-out and the time before or after low tide (P < 0.05) was discovered, meaning that more seals hauled- out at low tide. Scanning behavior was also analyzed. As the group of Harbor Seals becomes larger, an individual seal reduces its scanning time without lessening its predator surveillance. The median time scanning for an individual Harbor Seal in a small group was 96% (s.d. = 3.94), in a medium group was 62% (s.d. = 24.32), and in a large group was 1% (s.d. = 0.84). These results were also statistically significant (P<0.05).

INVENTORY OF LEPIDOPTERA IN AND ADJACENT TO QUEEN RIVER PRESERVE: EVIDENCE FOR ADDITIONAL LAND CONSERVATION ON STATE PROPERTY ADJACENT TO THE PRESERVE

Mark J. Mello Lloyd Center for Environmental Studies, 430 Potomska Rd., Dartmouth, MA 02748; mothman@mediaone.net

Queen River Preserve is a 151-acre property owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy. Major habitats include Queen River, a cold permanently flowing stream, Red Maple swamp, remnant pine barrens, White Pine forest, a shrub bog, farmed hayfields, and deciduous oak forest. The Rhode Island Office of The Nature Conservancy, through a John Wald Science Grant, contracted the Lloyd Center to conduct an inventory of Lepidoptera and Odonata, focusing on, but not limited to, the sand barrens restoration area. Three hundred sixty-eight species of macrolepidoptera, 19 butterflies, and 25 odonates were recorded at Queen River Preserve, as well as 47 species of macrolepidoptera, 37 butterflies, and 20 odonates on adjacent state property. The remnant pine barrens at Queen River Preserve produced low numbers of barrens-affiliated moths (Caripeta undescr. sp., Zanclognatha martha, Renia nemoralis, Zale curema, and Aplectoides condita), the latter of which is listed as “Concern” in Rhode Island. Two “Concern” species were documented in the Little Bluestem field on state property adjacent to the Preserve, Zale curema, and the Dusted Skipper (Antrynotopsis hianna). Riverine odonates were both common and diverse in Queen River, including the “Concern” species, Ophiogomphus aspersus. Lestes dryas, first reported from Rhode Island in 2001, occurred in the sedge fen on the adjacent state property. Although the remnant pine barrens are marginal habitat for barrens-affiliated Lepidoptera, the river continues to support a rich and uncommon assemblage of odonates for Rhode Island; and the adjacent state property, particularly the Little Bluestem field and the wetlands, harbor listed and or rare species worthy of habitat protection and management.

SHIFTS IN WETLAND COMMUNITY COMPOSITION ACROSS ESTUARINE SALINITY GRADIENTS: THE RELATIVE ROLES OF PHYSICAL AND BIOLOGICAL FACTORS

Caitlin Mullan, Mark Bertness, and Brian Silliman Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Brown University, Box G-W, Providence, RI 02912; Caitlin_Mullan@Brown.edu

Elucidating the mechanisms that generate species distribution patterns is critical to preserving landscape community structure and to predicting the effects of anthropogenic change to the environment. In estuarine marshes, plant community composition changes dramatically from the coastal river mouth to the head of tide. Current models of coastal marshes assume that salinity stress alone dictates the zonation of species along this environmental stress gradient, but this hypothesis has never been tested. In a Rhode Island estuary, we conducted reciprocal transplant experiments between salt and fresh-tidal marsh dominant plants with and without neighboring vegetation to investigate the relative roles of physical stress and biotic interactions in controlling species distribution. The salt marsh grasses Spartina patens and Spartina alterniflora transplanted into a fresh tidal marsh increased in biomass when neighboring vegetation was removed, but were suppressed when neighbors were included. Fresh tidal marsh dominants, Typha angustifolia and Scirpus americanus, died within weeks of transplanting into a salt marsh regardless of neighbor treatment. These results demonstrate that competition for resources, in addition to physical factors, regulates the distribution of wetland plants across salinity gradients. Results from this study will enable managers to better predict the effects of sea-level rise, invasive species introductions, and hydrologic alterations on coastal habitats.

EFFECTS OF URBANIZATION ON RHODE ISLAND’S FORESTS: CHANGES IN LAND COVER BETWEEN 1985 AND PRESENT

Alyssa Novak and Y. Q. Wang Department of Natural Resources Science, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI 02881; alyssa_novak@yahoo.com

Changes in land use and land cover are the most significant forms of change because of the irreversible effects they have on the environment. There are a number of forces responsible for transforming the land, however, urbanization processes and suburban sprawl are the main anthropogenic factors. For example, in the state of Rhode Island, residential and commercial developments are replacing undeveloped land at an unprecedented rate; between 1988 and 1995 built-up land increased by 7.0% while forested land decreased by 2.6%. The ecological implications of these changes still are not fully appreciated. However, as suburban and urban expansion continues, the state’s forest ecosystem will need to endure a decline in the spatial extent and connectivity of its forest patches. The primary focus of our research is to document changes in land use and land cover resulting from urbanization and suburban sprawl in the state of Rhode Island, as well as determine how the conversion of land to urban use has affected the state’s forest ecosystems. This presentation will discuss how our lab is using remote sensing to detect changes in land cover, as well as our preliminary results.

STORM INFLUENCE ON SHORELINE CHANGE: CHARLESTOWN, RHODE ISLAND

Sarah A. O’Connor and Jon C. Boothroyd Department of Geosciences, University of Rhode Island, 317 Woodward Hall, Kingston, RI 02881; soco9569@postoffice.uri.edu

Charlestown-Green Hill Beach, Rhode Island is a microtidal barrier on a south- facing shoreline. We used a long-term beach profile record (CHA-EZ)(24 years of weekly measurements) to test the usefulness of the Dolan and Davis (1992) extratropical storm classification system. A storm record for the southeastern New England region was compiled that identified 296 extratropical storms that occurred between 1956-2001; 166 occurred during the CHA-EZ profile record (1977-present). Class I storms changed the seaward section of the berm and recovery occurred within hours. Class II storms changes were limited to the berm; recovery ranged from one to two weeks. Class III storms altered the foredune, ramp, and berm; recovery ranged from weeks to months. Class IV storms also altered the foredune, ramp, and berm and recovery ranged from months to years. The Blizzard of December 1992 was the only Class V storm recorded; the berm was removed and significant washover sand was deposited on the backbarrier flat. Too few storms of higher intensities occurred during the time of the long-term profile record to make an absolute determination of response and recovery. Storm intensities could not alone be used to determine the magnitude of sediment volume loss or redistribution. Tidal phase, storm track, and time between storms remain important controlling factors.

WHAT IS THE STATE OF NARRAGANSETT BAY?: USING ECOLOGICAL INDICATORS TO COMMUNICATE THE ANSWER

Kerrie O’Donnell Brown University, Box 5374, Providence, RI 02912; Kerrie_O’Donnell@brown.edu

There is currently no agreement on a universal set of indicators to evaluate the state of Narragansett Bay and the Bay watershed. Without a framework in place to translate monitoring data into ecosystem-wide trends, we cannot know how effective conservation and management efforts have been, nor can we successfully inform policy makers and the public of changes in the ecosystem. An ecological indicator must both justly reflect complex ecosystem processes and clearly communicate this information to non-technical audiences. Therefore, the process of selecting indicators requires the collaboration of scientists, policy makers, and the public. I evaluate several indicators that have been proposed by the Narragansett Bay Project (1992), the Bay Summit (2000), and the Partnership for Narragansett Bay’s Ecological Indicators Conference (2001). The goals of this evaluation are to propose a set of indicator selection criteria and to recommend a suite of indicators for consideration by the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program.

WORKING WITH SCHOOLS TO DESIGN HANDS-ON SCIENCE AND INQUIRY-BASED PROGRAMS

Fred Orwiler and Stephanie Bongiovanni Norman Bird Sanctuary, 583 Third Beach Road, Middletown, RI 02842; forwiler@normanbirdsanctuary.org, sbongio@normanbirdsanctuary.org

Many Rhode Island school districts are emphasizing inquiry-based learning, including more hands-on science. This poster session will highlight the Norman Bird Sanctuary’s collaboration with local schools to design and implement programs that help them fulfill their instructional goals. First, we will describe four new programs designed in partnership with teachers and administrators in two middle schools and two elementary schools. Through various types of experiential learning, students gain practical skills while exploring the significance of local ecological issues. In two of the programs, students will contribute to the current body of scientific knowledge by disseminating data to the Sanctuary and other agencies. Second, we will highlight the motivation behind these initiatives. By undertaking these projects our organization is not only fulfilling its educational mission, it is also meeting needs identified by local schools. To accomplish these dual tasks we are:

* providing programs that help teachers fulfill curriculum requirements.
* reaching out to disadvantaged youth that may not otherwise have exposure to hands-on environmental education.
* serving as a community partner in order to offer additional resources to teachers and students. Finally, the poster will discuss new opportunities as wecollaborate with educational institutions to incorporate environmental education into inquiry-based curricula.

MONITORING POPULATION TRENDS OF MIGRANT PASSERINES: KINGSTON WILDLIFE RESEARCH STATION FROM 1960-2001

Jason E. Osenkowski and Peter W. C. Paton Department of Natural Resources Science, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI 02881; jose0584@postoffice.uri.edu

From 1956 to 1994, Dr. Douglas Kraus monitored landbirds during fall migration in Kingston, Rhode Island. He banded birds on most days from early August through early November for 39 years. Before he passed away in 2000, Dr. Kraus established the Kingston Wildlife Research Station (KWRS) in 1998, which is a collaborative agreement between University of Rhode Island (URI) and Audubon Society of Rhode Island, who now own the property. Since 1998, URI has banded birds during fall migration at KWRS. Today, we report on changes in avian community structure at KWRS from 1960 to 2001. We used regression techniques to analyze population trends. A total of 104 species were captured over 41 years, with >27,000 individuals banded. During the 1960s, Dr. Kraus documented the range expansion of Northern Cardinals, Tufted Titmouse, and Carolina Wrens into Rhode Island. As succession converted his property from old-field to mixed- deciduous forest, grassland birds declined and forest species increased. Population trends of Neotropical migrants, many of which have declined at regional scales, will be discussed. KWRS is one of the longest operating banding stations in North America, thus it is an extremely valuable resource for biologists interested in populations trends of passerines.

WITHIN-POND PARAMETERS AFFECTING OVIPOSITION BY WOOD FROGS AND SPOTTED SALAMANDERS

Peter W. C. Paton and Robert S. Egan Department of Natural Resources Science, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI 02881; ppaton@uri.edu

Wildlife managers need a better understanding of amphibian habitat requirements to conserve their populations. During 2000-2001, we assessed the effects of hydroperiod, pond surface area and depth, within-pond vegetation, canopy closure, and fish occurrence on egg mass counts of Wood Frogs (Rana sylvatica) and Spotted Salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum) at 124 ponds in Rhode Island. Study sites were stratified by road density, which served as an indirect measure of non-breeding habitat quality and quantity. Egg masses of both species were most abundant in ponds that dried between 1 August and 30 November. Both species avoided ponds with fish, although spotted salamanders were more likely to use ponds with fish. They also preferred ponds with greater amounts of shrub cover and greater amounts of sphagnum or non-woody vegetation. Recent studies have suggested that wetlands as small as 0.2- 0.4 ha warrant protection; we detected egg masses of either one or both species in 83% of the ponds we sampled and 80.6% of these ponds were <0.2 ha. In the Northeast, wetlands as small as 0.05 ha may be critical in maintaining amphibian populations. Wildlife managers should strive to maintain these conditions within ponds to provide suitable breeding habitat for amphibians.

BREEDING ECOLOGY OF PIPING PLOVERS IN RHODE ISLAND: 1992-2001

Suzanne E. Hoover Paton Rhode Island National Wildlife Complex, P.O. Box 307, Charlestown RI 02813; Suzanne_Paton@fws.gov

Piping Plovers (Charadrius melodus) nesting along the Atlantic Coast were federally listed as a threatened species in 1986. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began actively managing plover populations in southwestern Rhode Island in 1992. Pairs nesting in southeastern Rhode Island are managed by The Nature Conservancy and not included in this summary. Management strategies included: (1) protecting territories with symbolic fencing, (2) exclosing nests, and (3) monitoring nests and family groups. The number of nesting pairs has increased from 9 in 1992 to 40 in 2001, with birds using 11 beaches from Napatree Spit to Narrow River and Block Island. Trustom Pond NWR, Ninigret Conservation Area, and Maschaug Beach supported the largest numbers of nesting pairs. Of 354 nests monitored over 10 years, 38% failed to hatch. Abandonment, over-washing, and egg predation were the leading causes of nest failure, with most abandonments due to predator harassment. Of the 779 eggs that hatched, 378 chicks (49%) did not survive to fledge. Chicks are most vulnerable during the first 7 days post- hatching, with 45% lost within 24 hours of hatching. In all years except one, productivity has exceeded 1.24 chicks fledged per female, the estimated number necessary to maintain a stable population.

A GLOBAL VIEW OF BARRIER ISLANDS: DO THEY HAVE A FUTURE?

Orrin H. Pilkey Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines, Division of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Duke University, Durham NC 27708; opilkey@duke.edu

There are 1500 barrier islands around the world, making up approximately 7 to 10% of the world’s open Ocean shorelines. They exist along the rims of all continents except Antarctica. Thirty percent of all the islands, including those on Alaska’s North Slope, are “American-owned,” which is why much of the barrier island scientific literature is from the United States. Twelve percent are in the Arctic Ocean and thirty percent rim the margins of deltas. Barrier islands exist in all climates ranging from the tropics to the Arctic. The major types of barrier islands are coastal plain, delta, and Arctic. Most barrier islands are on coastal plains (e.g., the U.S. East Coast) that are slowly drowning due to sea level rise. In response to sea level rise, barrier islands have the capability of migrating landward to avoid drowning. Arctic islands, perhaps due to permafrost melting from global warming, have the highest erosion/migration rates and are the shortest islands. Delta islands off the Mississippi, Nile, and Niger Rivers are suffering from sand starvation due to sand-trapping by dams on the rivers. Humans halt the evolutionary processes, i.e., kill the islands, by the use of shoreline armoring (seawalls) and the dredging of navigation channels in inlets. In mid-latitudes, barrier islands are an endangered species.

EFFECTS OF FOREST LOSS AND FRAGMENTATION ON FOREST-BREEDING BIRD COMMUNITIES IN NORTHERN RHODE ISLAND

Jon Regosin, Department of Biology, Tufts University, Medford, MA 02155; jregos01@tufts.edu

Rick Enser, Rhode Island Natural Heritage Program, 235 Promenade Street, Providence, RI 02908

Caren Cooper, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 159 Sapsucker Woods Road, Ithaca, NY 14850

and J. Michael Reed, Department of Biology, Tufts University, Medford, MA 02155; jregos01@tufts.edu

We censused forest-breeding birds at 111 randomly selected points within upland deciduous forest in northern Rhode Island from May 22 — July 3, 1998. We then modeled the presence/absence or abundance of bird species in response to local habitat and landscape variables that described vegetation structure and forest cover/fragmentation. Landscape variables were analyzed at both the 78 ha (500 m- radius) and 1257 ha (2 km-radius) scales. Generally, stepwise linear or logistic regression models with landscape variables included performed better than models including local habitat variables alone. Scarlet Tanager, Red-eyed Vireo, Veery, Hermit Thrush, Rufous-sided Towhee, and Black and White Warbler showed negative responses to forest loss and fragmentation, while Tufted Titmouse, American Robin, and Wood Thrush showed positive responses. Ovenbirds decreased in relative abundance in response to forest loss, but increased in response to fragmentation. The number of long-distance migrants increased as distance to the nearest developed edge increased, while the number of residents increased in response to decreases in percent forest cover. Many of the landscape effects were still significant when only those points with landscapes >70% forested were included in analyses.

DOES LEAF SIZE INFLUENCE RESORPTION OF NUTRIENTS FROM SENESCING LEAVES?

Ryan Tainsh and Keith Killingbeck Department of Biological Sciences, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI 02881; rtai1657@postoffice.uri.edu

Nitrogen and phosphorus were measured in large and small fully senesced leaves of Acer rubrum and Quercus alba to determine whether leaf size influences nutrient resorption proficiency. Large Acer leaves were ñ 3.3 times higher in mass and surface area than small Acer leaves collected from the same individual trees, yet concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus in large and small senesced leaves (i.e., resorption proficiency of these two nutrients) were identical. Large Quercus leaves were ñ 2.8 times higher in mass and surface area than small Quercus leaves collected from the same individual trees, yet concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus were nearly identical in large and small senesced leaves. Although there are theoretical reasons to expect leaf size to influence resorption, leaf size did not play a role in controlling nitrogen or phosphorus resorption proficiency in these two deciduous forest species.

HERBIVORES ON PHRAGMITES AUSTRALIS IN NORTH AMERICA

Lisa A. Tewksbury, Richard A. Casagrande, Department of Plant Sciences, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI 02881; lisat@uri.edu

Bernd Blossey, Biological Control of Non-Indigenous Plant Species Program, Department of Natural Resources, 122E Fernow Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853

and Geoff Balme, Department of Entomology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695

Limited field surveys and extensive review of the literature reveal that only 26 insect herbivore species are known to feed on Phragmites australis in North America; 16 are recent introductions, five species are of unknown status, and only five are native. Only the Yuma Skipper, Ochlodes yuma (Edwards), a species distributed throughout the western United States, and a gall midge, Calamomyia phragmites Felt, are considered native and monophagous on P. australis. The native Broad-winged Skipper, Poanes viator (Edwards), has recently increased its range by including P. australis in its diet. The sixteen recent introductions include the moth Rhizedra lutosa (Hubner), chloropid gall- inducing flies in the genus Lipara, the gall midge Lasioptera hungarica (Mohn), an aphid, Hyalopterus pruni (Geoffrey), a wasp, Tetramesa phragmitis (Erdos), a mite Steneotarsonemus phragmitidis (Schelchtendal), and the rice grain gall midge Giraudiella inclusa (Frauenfeld). A table of insect herbivores known to feed on Phragmites in North America is provided to further our understanding of the ecology of the Phragmites ecosystem, and as a requisite step prior to serious consideration of biological control of Phragmites.

PATTERNS OF SALT MARSH USE BY WADING BIRDS IN SOUTHERN RHODE ISLAND

Carol Lynn Trocki and Peter W. C. Paton Department of Natural Resources Science, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI 02881; carol@uri.edu

Population sizes of wading bird colonies in Narragansett Bay have been monitored since 1975, but little information is available on habitat use of these birds. During the 2001 breeding season, we surveyed 16 salt marshes in southern Rhode Island, ranging in size from 2 ha to over 70 ha. Each marsh was surveyed approximately twice per week during the breeding (10 May through 11 July) and post-breeding (3 August through 19 September) periods. A total of ten wading bird species were detected, six of which breed in Narragansett Bay colonies. More wading birds were detected per survey during the post-breeding period (mean = 127.12) than the breeding period (mean = 65.59.) Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) were the most abundant species during the breeding season (mean = 26.46 per survey), while Great Egret (Ardea alba) were the most abundant during post-breeding (mean = 41.74 per survey). Species richness varied between sites and over time. Round Marsh, near Jamestown, consistently had the highest species richness. Considerable seasonal variation exists in use of marshes. The effects of marsh characteristics (size, salt marsh area, perimeter of open water, and surrounding land use) on wading bird abundance and species richness will be discussed.

IS THE PROPORTION OF PLANT DIVERSITY THAT IS NONNATIVE AN INTEGRATED MEASURE OF ECOSYSTEM DISTURBANCE?

Kerri Vacher, Keith Killingbeck, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI; k.vacher@excite.com

and Peter August, Coastal Institute/Department of Natural Resources Science, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI

The relationship between anthropogenic disturbance and nonnative plant species was studied in 26 Audubon Society of Rhode Island refuges. Plant survey presence/absence data were used to generate several measures of nonnative species. Nine measures of anthropogenic disturbance were estimated from extant databases in a GIS both within and immediately adjacent to the refuges. The total percentage of vascular species that were nonnative was not significantly related to the measures of anthropogenic disturbance assessed in the refuges, or the zones of impact adjacent to the refuges. Although nonnative herbaceous species were also not linked to measures of anthropogenic disturbance, nonnative shrub, tree, and vine percentages were significantly related to individual disturbance parameters. The relatively low R2 values of these linkages indicate that no single disturbance parameter was intricately linked to any of the percentage of nonnative species segregated by life form. In contrast, greater than 60% of the variability in the percent total nonnative trees and the percent total vascular species that were nonnative trees was explained by the cumulative effect of the disturbance parameters. Therefore, the degree to which specific life form classes of vascular plants are populated by nonnative species may be used to predict relative levels of past anthropogenic disturbance.

PROTECTING OUR PURPLE HAZE: CONSERVATION OF NORTHERN BLAZING STAR (LIATRIS BOREALIS: ASTERACEAE)

Eric von Wettberg, Ailene Kane, Kelly Gravuer, and Johanna Schmitt Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Brown University, Box G-W, Providence, RI 02912; Eric_von_Wettberg@Brown.edu

Several threats face native plant species across the coastal regions of the northeastern United States. These threats include coastal development, habitat fragmentation, invasive species, succession, climate change, and unrestrained deer populations. Over the past two years we have studied threats facing Northern Blazing Star (Liatris borealis Nutt. ex. MacNab, Asteraceae), a NEPCoP Division 1 species with a global rank of G5?T3 and state endangered (S1) status in Rhode Island. Over the last 20 years, six of the known populations of Northern Blazing Star have been extirpated (6.8% of populations). Of the remaining 82 populations in New England, 36.5% have fewer than 25 plants, and 65% have fewer than 100 plants. In Rhode Island there are currently populations on Block Island and a small population on the mainland. To establish a baseline for conservation efforts in Rhode Island, we are studying the demography of Blazing Star populations and examining genetic differentiation between populations. Our research has shown that deer herbivory, seed predation, and habitat fragmentation are some of the major challenges facing Northern Blazing Star, and that conservation efforts should be focused on maintaining suitable sandplain grassland habitat for this rare plant.

HUMAN ALTERATION OF COASTAL LAGOON SHORELINES: DOES IT IMPACT INORGANIC NITROGEN CONCENTRATIONS IN UNDERLYING GROUNDWATER?

Adam Zitello, Department of Natural Resources Science, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI 02881

Barbara Nowicki, Graduate School of Oceanography, URI Bay Campus, Narragansett, RI 02882

Arthur Gold, Department of Natural Resources Science, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI 02881

Jenny Davis, Graduate School of Oceanography, URI Bay Campus, Narragansett, RI 02882

and Edwin Requintina, Graduate School of Oceanography, URI Bay Campus, Narragansett, RI 02882

By the year 2025, a predicted 50% of the world’s population will reside on the coast. This growing population is increasing environmentally harmful activities to a dangerous height. In our study we focused on the amount of dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) that is entering two Rhode Island coastal lagoons, Quononchataug Pond and Green Hill Pond. Nitrate, a component of DIN, is the most common groundwater pollutant in the United States. Groundwater was drawn from 0.5 m below ground surface with an individual drive-point peizometer. A walking survey was also completed to determine the degree of alteration within the buffer zone extending 50 ft. upland from the shoreline. We concluded that overall housing density in the adjoining back-pond area was a more effective predictor of underlying groundwater DIN concentrations than was human shoreline alteration immediately adjacent to the lagoons. No conclusive evidence was drawn to support the idea that a 50 ft. buffer is adequate to decontaminate groundwater in all cases.

FACIES CONFIGURATION CHANGES AND SEDIMENT TRANSPORT ON THE SOUTHERN RHODE ISLAND SHOREFACE

Matthew G. Zitello and Jon. C. Boothroyd Department of Geosciences, University of Rhode Island, 317 Woodward Hall, Kingston, RI 02881; mzit5377@postoffice.uri.edu

Four facies have been previously interpreted and mapped (Boothroyd and Klinger 1998; Klinger 1996; Brenner 1998) on the upper Charlestown/Green Hill barrier shoreface using side-scan sonar surveys obtained in 1995, 1996, and 1997. These include: 1) A fine sand sheet (Ss) composed of fine to very fine sand, 2) coarse sand with small dune bedforms (Csd), 3) cobble pavement (GLc), and 4) glacial boulder outcrop (GLb). The present study identified three new facies on the outer shoreface surveyed in 1997. These include: 1) A fine sand facies (Fs), 2) cobble pavement with a thin veneer of mud (GLcM), and 3) Coarse sand (Cs) with no small dunes. The multi-year sonar data provided the spatial resolution to identify small but significant facies configuration changes of the sand sheet (Ss) and the coarse sand/small dune (Csd) facies. From 1995 to 1997 storminess on the Rhode Island coast had increased, which resulted in a decrease in beach profile volumes on the Charlestown barrier. The sand eroded from the active berm was directly related to an observed increase in the extent of the 1996 Ss configuration. As storminess continued into 1997, sediment volumes of both the active berm and the upper shoreface decreased. We infer that this sediment was transported offshore by combined flow to the lower shoreface. We further infer that the sediment transported to the lower shoreface is not transported shoreward during fairweather conditions and thus is lost from the upper shoreface/berm system.