ECOLOGICAL RESEARCH IN RHODE ISLAND
March 5, 2004
Rhodes On-the-Pawtuxet, Cranston, RI

LOCATION OF ANTHROPOGENIC, URBAN WETLANDS THAT SUPPORT DRAGONFLY DEVELOPMENT AND ADULT EMERGENCE
Maria A. Aliberti
Department of Plant Sciences and Entomology, University of Rhode Island,
Woodward Hall, Kingston, RI 02881; mali5900@postoffice.uri.edu

Preliminary selection and field reconnaissance of highly anthropogenic wetlands were undertaken during mid-summer 2003 in greater Providence, RI. These wetlands present a diversity of urban situations, such as park fountains, old industrial sites, backed-up drainage ditches, impoundments and ponds surrounded by residential development. Dragonfly exuviae-the last nymphal exoskeleton from which adults emerge-were collected during field visits and identified in the laboratory. A variety of dragonfly species was found; the genera include Anax, Aeshna, Sympetrum, Erythemis, Pachydiplax, Ladona and Pantala. [oral presentation]

QUEEN’S AND BEAVER RIVER MACROINVERTEBRATE SURVEY-CAUGHT AT THE RIGHT TIME!
Maria A. Aliberti and Pat Logan
Department of Plant Sciences and Entomology, University of Rhode Island,
Woodward Hall, Kingston, RI 02881; mali5900@postoffice.uri.edu

Five sites along the upper reaches of each river were sampled twice, during the height of the aquatic macroinvertebrate emergence season-once in May and again in June 2003. This seasonal sampling resulted in the collection of late-instar specimens of mayflies, stoneflies, dragonflies, damselflies, caddisflies, beetles, and true bugs, during their aquatic phases. The sites have very diverse macroinvertebrate communities, especially with regard to the caddisfly, mayfly, and stonefly components. [oral presentation]

ASSESSING SEA LEVEL CHANGE IN NARRAGANSETT BAY
Patrick J. Barosh
P.J. Barosh & Associates
103 Aaron Ave., Bristol, RI 02809; pjbarosh@gis.net

A change in sea level may strongly affect near shore ecosystems and an understanding of this change is needed to prepare for the future. The local change is variable, as it is a complex interplay of an increase in oceanic water due to melting ice caps and vertical movement of the land. Several crustal movements affect the Narragansett Bay region.
The entire East Coast is undergoing a long-term northerly tilt. This has raised the coastal plain in the south and submerged the New England coast in the north, including that of Rhode Island. The eastern edge of the continent also has been tilting seaward towards the North Atlantic basin as it widens. This tilt still could be continuing at a low rate.
Narragansett Bay itself is a young geologic feature that is still widening and subsiding along faults that produce earthquakes upon occasion. The down-dropped blocks formed a network of valleys at the end of glacial times when the seacoast lay offshore to the south. The bay flooded as the sea rose and the land tilted to the south due to glacial unloading. This late glacial shoreline emerges near Boston and climbs to the north. The rebound probably has ended here, but, if not, could cause a very minor subsidence.
These negative crustal movements indicate a relatively high rate of sea level rise in the Bay area in addition to one from an increase in oceanic water. This would have a serious impact on near shore ecosystems that may not be able to shift landward in many places due to steeper slopes and development. [oral presentation]

MODELING WATER RESOURCES IN THE PAWCATUCK RIVER BASIN, SOUTHERN RHODE ISLAND AND SOUTHEASTERN CONNECTICUT
Gardner C. Bent
U.S. Geological Survey, Massachusetts-Rhode Island District
10 Bearfoot Road, Northborough, MA 01532; gbent@usgs.gov

Population in the Pawcatuck River Basin grew more than eight percent during the 1990s, and continues to grow rapidly in the basin. As population grows so does associated water uses. Current and projected water withdrawals for domestic, commercial, industrial, and agricultural uses must be balanced to minimize potential stresses due to streamflow depletion on the aquatic habitat, especially during low-flow periods.
In April 2002 the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Rhode Island Water Resources Board, began a four-year study to evaluate water resources and develop hydrologic models of the basin. Surface-water, groundwater, water-use, and climatological data are being used to develop a precipitation-runoff model (HSPF) and a ground-water-flow model (MODFLOW). The models will be used to evaluate the effects of a number of surface-water and ground-water-management scenarios that meet current and projected water uses while maintaining instream flow requirements. [oral presentation]

A METHODOLOGY TO QUANTIFY CHANGES IN AQUATIC HABITAT IN THE PAWCATUCK RIVER BASIN
Eric Boettger, Andy Lipsky, and Vicki Drew
USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Services
60 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886; Eric.Boettger@ri.usda.gov, Andrew.Lipsky@ri.usda.gov, Vicki.Drew@ri.usda.gov

During low stream flow conditions, water levels may decrease enough for the water surface to recede from the stream bank, eliminating vital aquatic habitat. A challenge faced by resource managers charged with protecting aquatic habitat quality in the Pawcatuck river basin is to distinguish whether changes in aquatic habitat are related to natural variability or stream flow modification from human-induced groundwater withdrawals. Consequently, a simplified monitoring program was initiated in Spring 2003 to characterize aquatic habitat conditions at stream riffles at a variety of impacted and un-impacted river reaches. This approach assumes that a change in wetted perimeter, the total length of the channel bed in contact with the water, is proxy for changes in abundance of in-stream aquatic habitat. Sampling sites were established at three locations downstream of water withdrawals and two reference sites without upstream water withdrawals. Wetted perimeter, stream flow, and temperature data were collected weekly from June-September, 2003. Above average stream flow during this period apparently contributed to insignificant differences in aquatic habitat metrics between the sites. [poster presentation]

GLACIAL GEOLOGY OF THE GREENWICH BAY WATERSHED
Jon C. Boothroyd, State Geologist1 and Stephen J. McCandless2
1Department of Geosciences and RI Geological Survey, 317 Woodward Hall, 9 E. Alumni Ave.,
University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI 02881; jon_boothroyd@uri.edu
2McCandless GIS Consulting, 67 Sand Plain Rd, Charlestown, RI 02813

The Quaternary (Pleistocene and Holocene) geology of the Greenwich Bay (Gbay) watershed was remapped as part of an ongoing RI Geological Survey/US Geological Survey project to produce a Quaternary Geologic Map of Rhode Island. The GBay watershed (26.16 mi2, 6,774 hectares) encompasses parts of the East Greenwich, Bristol, and Crompton 71/2 minute quadrangles. The Quaternary geology is dominated by a series of very large deltas comprised of stratified sediment, deposited into Glacial Lake Narragansett during the recession of Laurentide ice through Rhode Island during Late Wisconsinan time. Subsequent lake drainage and post-glacial sea-level rise covered the lake floor, most delta slopes, and parts of delta plains to create present day Narragansett Bay (NBay). One such delta, mapped as the Warwick Plains delta, extends from the Pawtucket River on the north, south to Greenwich Bay and then continues under present-day Gbay as a submerged delta plain to the Potowomut delta system on the south. The watershed boundary bisects T.F. Green airport, which sits on the Warwick delta-plain surface. Three till uplands-Warwick neck on the east, Drum Rock Hill on the west, and the Spencer Hill area further west-function as ground-water recharge areas for the stratified sediment in the valleys and lowlands. Significant meltwater flow during deglaciation resulted in the deposition of coarse-gravel alluvial fans in the Hardig Brook and Maskerchugg sub-watersheds and in the Apponaug-Gorton Pond area.
Subsequent industrialization and high-density home development occurred on the highly permeable stratified deposits and along the watercourses. Thus the high hydraulic conductivity of the alluvial fan and delta plain (braided river) deposits and their flow paths in the GBay watershed have resulted in both groundwater and surface water transport of industrial contaminants, septic waste and nitrogen inputs toward, and into, Greenwich Bay. [oral presentation]

THE RHODE ISLAND ODONATA ATLAS: PRELIMINARY RESULTS OF A SIX-YEAR INVENTORY OF DRAGONFLIES AND DAMSELFLIES
Virginia Brown and Nina Briggs
Rhode Island Natural History Survey, Room 11, Coastal Institute-Kingston
1 Greenhouse Road, URI, Kingston, RI 02881; vbrown@rinhs.org

The Rhode Island Odonata Atlas is a statewide, volunteer-based inventory of dragonflies and damselflies which began in 1998, and has just completed its 6th and final field season. Fifty-five (55) volunteers have participated in the project, donating thousands of hours to fieldwork, data entry and analysis, collection management, and publicity. The current species list for the state stands at 135, twenty-two (22) of which were added during the Atlas period. Included in the additions to the list are a few species of local and regional conservation interest, such as the Coppery Emerald (Somatochlora georgiana) and the Blackwater Bluet (Enallagma weewa). Faunal lists for various townships range from a low of 12 species to a high of 107 species. Burrillville, South Kingstown, and Richmond support the highest odonate diversity. Providence and Washington counties rank among the most diverse counties in the country, with 125 and 126 species respectively. Several ponds and rivers contain more than half of the species reported for the state, and local diversity “hot spots” tend to be where large areas of protected and/or undeveloped landscapes exist. An analysis of the assemblage of 40 river and stream species, with further examination of 8 pollution sensitive species, may be useful in assessing the health of Rhode Island’s watersheds. Rhode Island is a particularly productive place to conduct statewide inventories of insects because of its small size and large areas of accessible open space. Additionally, though one might suspect a limited fauna in a state of this size, Rhode Island has a great diversity of habitat types and an abundance of wetlands that support a correspondingly high diversity of odonate species. [oral presentation]

PREDATORY INTERACTIONS BETWEEN INSECTS AND SPOTTED SALAMANDER LARVAE, AMBYSTOMA MACULATUM, IN VERNAL POOLS
Emily P. Brunkhurst and Patrick Logan
Department of Plant Sciences and Entomology, University of Rhode Island,
Woodward Hall, Kingston, RI 02881; ebru7117@postoffice.uri.edu

I ran predation trials in the laboratory to determine which species of insects in vernal pools ate Spotted Salamander larvae, Ambystoma maculatum, and whether the salamanders ate any of the same taxa of insect. I collected both salamanders and insects from 10 natural vernal pools to obtain natural pairings of species and their relative sizes. In 1040 trials, I found two major predators of salamander larvae, Dytiscus sp. (Coleoptera: Dytiscidae) and Lethocerus sp. (Hemiptera: Belostomatidae) and several lesser predators including Notonecta (Hemiptera: Notonectidae) and two species of Anisoptera (Odonata). 49% of trials with dytiscid larvae and 77% of trials with Lethocerus resulted in predation by the insect. Salamander larvae preyed on several of these insects including Dytiscidae larvae, Notonecta, and Anisoptera. Predation depended on both taxa of insect and relative sizes of predator and prey. Predation also varied through the season (May through August). Predator-prey switching, where the predators become the prey and the prey become predators, occurred between Ambystoma maculatum and two beetles, Dytiscus and Acilius, through both larval and adults life stages. It also occurred in Notonecta and in two families of Anisoptera: Aeshnidae and Libellulidae. The effect of insect predation on salamanders depends on insect taxa, relative sizes, date, and some pool characteristics. [oral presentation]

IDENTIFICATION OF DNA MICROSATELLITE MARKERS FOR TAUTOG CONSERVATION
Arpita Choudhury and Terence Bradley
Department of Fisheries, Animal, and Veterinary Science, University of Rhode Island
Building 14 East Farm, Route 108 Kingston, RI 02881; acho3139@postoffice.uri.edu

Tautog (Tautoga onitis) or Blackfish are found along the Atlantic coast between Nova Scotia and North Carolina as localized groups. They inhabit structured areas such as submerged wrecks, rocky outcroppings, and artificial reefs. Tautog is a commercially and recreationally important species but is highly susceptible to overfishing. Presently, limited information is available on the population structure of Tautog. Determination of the population structure is essential for effective management and conservation of the fishery.
Since first discovered in the 1980s, microsatellite markers have been used for an array of applications. In the area of fisheries science, microsatellites have become a popular molecular tool to identify stocks in species such as Cod and Atlantic Salmon. The objective of the research reported here is to identify microsatellite markers to assess the population structure of Tautog. Construction and screening of a genomic library have yielded microsatellites. The markers are being tested for polymorphism and Mendelian heretibility prior to use in tautog stock identification. DNA has been isolated from individuals captured in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and New York. Additional samples will be collected from Virginia to provide a wide geographical distribution.
This work was supported by NOAA CMER grant# NA07FE0548. [oral presentation]

USE OF A STABLE ISOTOPIC METHOD TO ASSESS THE SOURCEOF NITROGEN TO A MACROALGAL BLOOM
Marci L. Cole1, Wenley Ferguson1, and Rick McKinney2
1Save The Bay, 434 Smith St., Providence, RI 02908; mcole@savebay.org, wferguson@savebay.org
2EPA Atlantic Ecology Division, 27 Tarzwell Dr., Narragansett, RI 02882; Mckinney.Rick@epamail.epa.gov

In a tidally restricted salt marsh in coastal Rhode Island, a macroalgal bloom has grown in size and duration in the last decade. The goal of this assessment is to determine whether or not restoring tidal flow alone will reduce the macroalgal bloom. The cause of the bloom remains to be determined, but two nutrient sources seem possible. Nitrogen stable isotopes have been used to identify the contribution of wastewater N to the land-derived nitrogen load to receiving waters. We here apply this relatively new technique to a salt marsh restoration project. Contrary to our hypothesis, nitrogen stable isotopic values in Gooseneck Cove were not indicative of a wastewater source. This result suggests another nutrient source for the macroalgal bloom. We suggest that nutrient release from the subsiding salt marsh may be that source. Gooseneck Cove has been restricted since at least 1939, but subsidence of part of the marsh started after 1981. It has been shown that salt marsh peats have high concentrations of nutrients, and decomposition of marsh peat, and subsequent nutrient release, could stimulate primary productivity in the water column. Continuing research will assess whether or not subsiding marsh peat is the source of nutrients for the algal bloom. [poster presentation]

AN INTRODUCTION TO THE FRESHWATER MUSSELS OF RHODE ISLAND
James (Jay) R. Cordeiro
Nature Serve, 11 Avenue de Lafayette, 5th Floor, Boston, MA 02111; jay_cordeiro@natureserve.org

Freshwater mussels (families Margaritiferidae and Unionidae) have attained their greatest diversity in North America with more than 300 of 1000 taxa worldwide. No comprehensive regional field guide exists for Rhode Island, although guides to neighboring states have recently been produced. There currently exists a global crisis of freshwater mussel decline with 68% of North American species at risk of extinction. Threats include predation (very limited), pollution, habitat degredation (channelization and impoundment), and introduced aquatic species. Ten species of freshwater mussels have been documented in the state historically from museum records and published works incorporating assemblages from the Atlantic slope, the area between Nova Scotia and Georgia. Four species are listed of state special concern in Rhode Island, one is documented historically but has not been collected recently, and another was likely extirpated from the state in 1897. Of the New England states, Rhode Island and Maine have the fewest species at ten, compared to 12 each in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, and 17 in Vermont. Nearly all are in some state of decline. Last fall, I concluded a four-year field study of freshwater mussel distribution in Connecticut and found similar trends in declining diversity. Many of the species once widespread in Connecticut were also once common in Rhode Island. Five species are declining in Connecticut and three others have been extirpated or nearly so. [oral presentation]

A MULTIPLE SCALE APPROACH TO ASSESSING THE BIOLOGICAL INTEGRITY OF RHODE ISLAND STREAMS
Sara N. da Silva
Nelson, Pope & Voorhis, LLC, 572 Walt Whitman Road, Melville, NY 11747; sdasilva@nelsonpope.com

Land use and geomorphology within watersheds affect the biological, physical, and chemical conditions in streams at multiple scales. This study assessed how well indices of biological integrity relate to landscape variables and explored which spatial scales are most useful for assessment of Rhode Island’s streams and rivers. From 1991 to 2001, we sampled stream benthic macroinvertebrates at 41 sites in first through fifth order streams. The bioassessment data suggests that declining stream health occurs at thresholds as low as 5% impervious cover. The use of GIS landscape data (geomorphic and land use variables) in addition to observed reach data (bank disturbance and habitat assessment scores) at the local riparian scale was the most powerful suite of predictive measures and explained as much as 65% of the variation in biological score (p<0.001). Long-term biological monitoring revealed significant change in 4 of the 41 sites over the past eleven years. Physico-chemical monitoring revealed change in 10 of 24 sites, with most changes indicating improving water quality. Because of the covariance between scales, this study cannot recommend a specific scale for focusing land management efforts. However, my findings indicate that very localized scales of watershed and in-stream observations can be beneficial for focusing efforts relating to the sustainability or restoration of stream biological integrity.
[oral and poster presentations]

INDICATORS OF ANTHROPOGENIC DISTURBANCE IN STREAMS AND RECEIVING SALT MARSHES
S. da Silva1, S.M. Lussier2, C. Wigand2, M. Charpentier3, S.C. Cormier4, and D.J. Klemm4
1Department of Natural Resources Science, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI; sdas5093@postoffice.uri.edu,
2USEPA, Office of Research and Development, National Health and Environmental Effect Research Laboratory, Atlantic Ecology Division, Narragansett, RI 02882; lussier.suzanne@epa.gov, wigand.cathleen@epa.gov
3CSC, Narragansett, RI 02882; charpentier.mike@epa.gov
4USEPA, Cincinnati, OH; cormier.susan@epa.gov, klemm.donald@epa.gov

Land use and anthropogenic activities in watersheds affect biological, chemical, and physical conditions in streams and receiving coastal salt marshes. Our objective was to compare indicators of stream and riparian condition with analogous indicators of the coastal salt marshes into which they discharge. We explored the relationships among watershed land use, stream biological integrity, riparian condition, salt marsh biological integrity, and marsh zonation. We used the Rapid Bioassessment Protocol for wadeable streams to collect data for biological, physicochemical, and habitat indicators in six Rhode Island watersheds along a range of residential land use. Field transects were used to measure riparian vegetation structure and species richness at each stream site. Total nitrate was measured in streams and salt marshes as an indicator of nutrient enrichment. We compared our stream indicators to the corresponding metrics of structure and integrity from salt marshes in the same watersheds. Results of graphical comparisons showed that adverse effects in salt marshes correspond with degradation of tributary streams and with residential land use in the watersheds. By providing information on habitat condition upstream and associated salt marsh condition, our results can help us understand the impacts of watershed disturbances on streams and the salt marshes they feed. [poster presentation]

A STUDY IN WINTER STARLINGS: WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?
Stephen Davis, Department of Biology and Medicine, Brown University
c/o Memorial Hospital, Pawtucket, RI 02860; abunoah@aol.com

This study evaluates the counts of European Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) reported on the Audubon Society’s yearly Christmas Bird Counts from the Newport (RI)-Westport (MA) survey. There are several results-both interesting and puzzling-from the analysis. The count has been undertaken each December for about the past 50 years. As expected, since European Starlings were introduced into North America in 1890, the number of starlings observed on the counts has dramatically increased (r = 0.49, p<0.001). The results indicate that the December date of the count also has a significant effect on the number of starlings reported (r = -0.79, p < 0.001). There is also a confounding relationship between the date of the month and the year of each count (r = -0.62, p< 0.001). A multivariate analysis suggests that, even though the numbers of starlings have clearly increased through the last half century, the December date of the count has had a greater influence on the numbers reported. (F = 14.18; p(date) = 0.0023; p(year) = 0.96). This raises questions as to what happens to the starlings as winter comes on, since the data would suggest that by the end of December, there should be no starlings, and clearly this is a contradiction with reality. These results are not replicated in the South Kingstown, RI area Christmas Bird Count, as is demonstrated. [poster presentation]

LANDFORMS INFLUENCE THE DISTRIBUTION OF SPARTINA CYNOSUROIDES ALONG THE SEEKONK RIVER
Grace M. Donnelly
BIOSPEC, Inc., 147 Sixth St., Providence, RI; Biospec_envirodocs@richmondsq.com

Spartina cynosuroides, a 9-ft tall salt marsh cordgrass and a documented newcomer to Rhode Island, is expanding along the shores of the Seekonk River. Along the west shore there are several large colonies, but between these colonies there are gaps with none of this grass. Based on field observations augmented by GPS and GIS, it appears that landform-related sun and shade patterns are a major factor in the distribution of S. cynosuroides along the west shore. Shade, cast by an 80-ft high steep bank of glacial outwash, covers much of the shoreline as early as 2 PM, and matches the large gaps. Cusps of various sizes that extend eastward beyond the shadow are well populated. Southeast facing segments of the west shoreline, especially in Pawtucket, and where the hillside is set back from the shoreline, contain young populations, some of which are starting to converge. Of interest for dispersal models is the fact that these young northern colonies on the west shore may be only 500 ft from colonies on the east shore, but almost a mile from the nearest well-established colony on the west shore. [oral presentation]

SALT PONDS WATERSHED RESTORATION
Vic Dvorak
Salt Ponds Coalition, Box 875, Charlestown, RI 02813; saltpondscoalition@hotmail.com

The Salt Ponds Coalition has been championing the need for a Salt Ponds Watershed Restoration Plan. Many project team meetings have been held with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM), Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC), RI Sea Grant, University of Rhode Island, US Environmental Protection Agency, US Fish & Wildlife Service, and a representative from Senator Chafee’s office. At year-end 2003, the team had secured approximately $50,000 to $60,000 of funding from RIDEM and CRMC to initiate the hiring of a consultant/manager to begin work on the Salt Ponds Watershed Restoration Plan by mid-2004. Additionally, Sea Grant is providing a half-time research specialist to synthesize existing knowledge about the Salt Ponds Watershed based on the research presented at Sea Grant’s Annual Science Symposium in 2002 and 2003. The primary focus will be on water quality-related issues. Longer term funding is being explored by Senator Chafee’s office. [oral presentation]

USING SIDE-SCAN SONAR AND VIDEO ANALYSIS TO MAP THE HABITATS OF A SHALLOW COASTAL LAGOON IN RHODE ISLAND
Kathryn Ford1, John King1, Jon Boothroyd2
1Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island, Narragansett, RI 02882; khford@gso.uri.edu
2Department of Geosciences, University of Rhode Island, Woodward Hall, Kingston, RI 02881

The shallow coastal lagoons of Rhode Island have been shown to be very productive nursery areas for finfish and shellfish. One reason for their productivity is the abundance of Common Eelgrass (Zostera marina), which is a critical habitat in shellfish and finfish nursery areas. It is apparent that in some coastal lagoons, this habitat is in decline. Side-scan sonar technology was used to develop a high-resolution backscatter image of Quonochontaug Pond, in order to accurately map the current extent of eelgrass beds to provide a baseline with which to compare future changes. The focus of the effort was to establish the usefulness of this technology in shallow water to map eelgrass beds and compare it to aerial surveys focused on mapping eelgrass. A unique image pattern was identified in the side-scan images and confirmed to be eelgrass by subsequent underwater video analysis. This method proved to be more reliable than the aerial mapping, particularly in deeper areas of the lagoon. In addition, the side-scan images are very useful for delineating other habitat boundaries, particularly those defined by differences in grain size. However side-scan does require significantly more field time and does not eliminate the necessity of extensive ground-truthing. The side-scan method is ideal for high-resolution habitat studies that require identification of multiple habitat types. [oral presentation]

WATERSHED AND ESTUARY STUDIES IN NORTH KINGSTOWN, RI
Joseph Gilmartin and Mary Barden
Davisville Middle School
200 School Street, North Kingstown, RI 02852; Mary_Barden@nksd.net

Teachers will display a collage of information about an ongoing Watershed-Estuary Studies Project that involves eighth grade students. This is a comprehensive program of environmental education involving four main components: a) a Watershed Study at Hunt’s River which includes water quality testing, macroinvertebrate identification, and a historical survey of the test area; b) a Watershed Education program which is an introduction to water quality testing for elementary students taught by eighth graders; c) a Rome Point-Bissell Cove Estuary Study which examines biodiversity from the shoreline into the uplands and includes an introduction to development issues in environmentally sensitive areas; and d) a Shoreline Restoration project including site selection for eelgrass transplant and monitoring. [poster presentation]

HYDROGEOLOGY AND SIMULATED EFFECTS OF GROUND-WATER WITHDRAWALS IN THE BIG RIVER AREA, RHODE ISLAND
Gregory E. Granato and Paul M. Barlow
U.S. Geological Survey, MA-RI District
275 Promenade, Suite 150, Providence, RI 02908; ggranato@usgs.gov

The Rhode Island Water Resources Board is planning development of ground-water resources in the Big River area of central Rhode Island to meet increasing water demands throughout the State. This 35.7 square-mile area includes three primary surface-water drainage basins-the Mishnock River, the Big River, and the Carr River, which is a tributary to the Big River. The average annual water budget for the area is 75 cubic feet per second (ft3/s), of which about 63 ft3/s discharges as streamflow from the Big River and about 7 ft3/s from the Mishnock River. Numerical ground-water-flow models of the sand and gravel aquifer are used to simulate the effects of 14 hypothetical ground-water-withdrawal scenarios in which pumping rates range from 2 to 11 million gallons per day. Simulation results indicate that the three basins in the area are a single ground-water resource. Ground water naturally flows from the Carr River Basin to the Mishnock River Basin. In addition, simulation results indicate that ground-water withdrawals in one basin result in streamflow depletions in one or more neighboring basins within the Big River area. [poster presentation]

BREEDING BIRDS ALONG THE BLACKSTONE RIVER BIKEWAY: A BASELINE STUDY
Delia R. J. Kaye1 and Jeffrey C. Peterson2
1Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc., 101 Walnut Street, PO Box 9151, Watertown, MA 02471-9151; dkaye@vhb.com
2Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc., 530 Broadway, Providence, RI 02909-1820; jpeterson@vhb.com

The Blackstone River Valley is becoming an important recreational greenway located in an urbanized section of northern Rhode Island. Little quantitative data exists on the potential impacts of non-consumptive recreational activities on the integrity of wildlife populations. In order to understand how breeding bird populations might be affected by construction and use of the Blackstone River Bikeway, breeding bird surveys were conducted during the 2003 breeding season at 21 point count stations. Stations were established across a variety of habitat communities in the Blackstone River Bikeway Corridor. Two transects were located along previously constructed Bikeway segments, two along planned Bikeway segments, and one transect was located along the west side of the Lonsdale Marsh where no Bikeway is being considered. A total of 46 breeding birds were observed during the 2003 surveys, with a range of 11 to 21 species per sample point. Preliminary results indicate that there is little difference in species number and composition between constructed and unconstructed Bikeway segments. This study was designed as a baseline study, and continued monitoring is recommended to assess changes in population dynamics. [poster presentation]

THE DYNAMICS OF RARE PLANT SPECIES IN RESPONSE TO FIRE AND SHRUB CUTTING TREATMENTS IN THE NINIGRET NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
Peter Keller and Keith Killingbeck
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI 02881;
pkel9005@postoffice.uri.edu, keith@uri.edu

Population sizes of six of the seven rare plant species growing in the 2300-m2 “endangered species hot spot” within the Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge were measured in 1996, 2002, and 2003. In response to an increase in tall shrubs at the site that appeared to be shading-out the rare herbaceous and graminaceous plants, selected plots at the site were 1) mechanically cut to a height of 15 cm (2002 growing season), 2) burned (30 April 2003), 3) cut and burned (2002, 2003, respectively), or 4) left as untreated controls. The total number of stems of Platanthera ciliaris (Yellow-fringed Orchid) varied from 24,509 in 1996, to 18,625 in 2002, to 24,808 in 2003. During the same three years, population estimates of Aletris farinosa (Colic-root) were 41,326, 34,238, and 37,251 stems. Numbers of Polygala cruciata (Cross-leaved Milkwort) stems more than doubled between the only two years for which we have population estimates (6,638 in 2002; 14,481 in 2003). Although extracting the independent effects of fire were complicated by the high variability in fire coverage (“burn plots” varied from being completely burned to being untouched by fire), the specific effects of fire and cutting were identified with Multivariate Analysis of Variance. [poster presentation]

TEN YEARS OF FISH COLLECTIONS ON THE BLACKSTONE RIVER: FOUR FUNERALS AND A WEDDING
Grace Klein-MacPhee1, Aimee A. Keller1, and Henry Rines2
1University of Rhode Island, Graduate School of Oceanography, Narragansett Bay Campus, Narragansett, RI 02882-1197; gracemac@gso.uri.edu, aimee@gso.uri.edu
2Ridgecrest Environmental, 140 Ridge Road, Wakefield, RI 02879; henry@jrines.com

We have been making fish collections on the Blackstone River at four stations in Woonsocket since 1994. The purpose was to determine if a gas-powered plant had any long-term impact on the fish population with respect to numbers or species composition. We used electroshocking and seining techniques to collect the fish; and also measured temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen (DO), and river flow. Twenty species of fish were taken. The most abundant species were Common Shiner, Bluegill Sunfish, Smallmouth Bass, Tessellated Darter, and White Sucker. Cycles of abundance were noted in most of the species over the ten-year period. There was an inverse relationship between White Suckers and Common Shiners plus Bluegills. Tessellated Darter contribution to the overall catch remained relatively constant over time. The number of species has increased from 13 to 20. Water quality parameters vary seasonally with low DO occurring in the deeper stations in late summer as temperature increased and water stratified. The overall conclusion is that natural variation in relative abundance of species is the predominant cause of differences between years, and that the gas-powered plant had little effect on the fishes with respect to numbers and species composition over time. [oral presentation]

CLASSIFICATION AND MAPPING OF HABITATS IN THE NARRAGANSETT BAY NATIONAL ESTUARINE RESEARCH RESERVE
Thomas E. Kutcher1, Kenneth B. Raposa1, Francis Golet2, and Richard W. Enser3
1Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, 55 South Reserve Drive,
Prudence Island, RI 02872; tomk@gso.uri.edu, Kenny@gso.uri.edu
2Department of Natural Resources Science, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI 02881; fgswamps@uri.edu
3Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, 235 Promenade Street, Providence RI 02908; renser@dem.state.ri.us

A classification system was developed for natural habitat types in Rhode Island and tested at the Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (NBNERR) on Prudence, Patience, and Dyer Islands. The classification system builds on previous national and local classification schemes, is hierarchical, and was designed for use in a geographic information system (GIS). It consists of five classification levels including System, Subsystem, Class, Subclass, and Habitat, and applies to upland, freshwater wetland, and estuarine intertidal and deepwater habitats. In 2003, a total of 2523 acres of the NBNERR was mapped using this classification system including 611 polygons from 4 systems, 7 subsystems, 21 classes, 30 subclasses, and 68 different habitat types. The highly modified south end of Prudence Island consisted of 33 habitat types dominated by Red Maple Swamp, Coastal Shrubland, and mosaics of oak, maple, and Pitch Pine forests. The north ends of Prudence Island and Patience Island were dominated by Coastal Shrubland and Coastal Cherry/Eastern Red Cedar Forest habitats, and Dyer Island was dominated by Coastal Shrubland. The classification system is already enhancing the stewardship and management functions of the NBNERR and should prove useful in other areas of Rhode Island and southern New England. [poster presentation]

A SPECIES AREA RELATIONSHIP FOR BACTERIA IN SALT MARSHES
M.D. Lage1, M.C. Horner-Devine2, B.J. Bohannan2, and J.B. Hughes1
1Brown University, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 80 Waterman St. Providence, RI 02912; Melissa_Lage@Brown.edu, Jennifer_Hughes@Brown.edu.
2Stanford University, Department of Biological Sciences, 371 Serra Mall, Stanford, CA 94305; mcdevine@stanford.edu, bohannan@stanford.edu

The predictable relationship between the number of species and area is a fundamental rule in ecology. However, this well-described relationship for macroorganisms has never been described in microorganisms. We examine the Beta-Proteobacteria diversity at six sampling scales in a Prudence Island, Rhode Island salt marsh. We show that there is evidence to support the idea that bacterial richness increases with the area sampled, similar to the relationship described for larger organisms.
[poster presentation]

INVENTORY AND MAPPING OF INVASIVE PLANT SPECIES AT THE NINIGRET NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
Hope Leeson1, Norma Kline2, and Suzanne Paton3
1259 Ministerial Road, Wakefield, RI 02879; polodore@ids.net.
2USFWS, Eire National Wildlife Refuge, 11296 Wood Duck Lane, Guy’s Mills, PA 16327
3USFWS, RI National Wildlife Refuge Complex, P.O. Box 307, Charlestown, RI 02813

Recognizing that invasive plants increasingly threaten native ecosystems, the Northeast Regional Office of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) initiated an invasive plant species inventory and mapping effort on National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) lands. In Rhode Island, the process began in 2001 with the creation of an Invasive Plant Management Plan, which could be applied to refuges within the region. The Ninigret NWR served as the protocol model. In 2002, the inventory and mapping phase of the plan commenced. Data collection followed the standard inventory protocol developed by the USFWS, and covered 409 acres of the Ninigret NWR.
Statistical considerations for the survey were minimal; mapping consisted of species occurrence and abundance. There were no sample sizes, and transects established across the refuge served as guidelines. A hand-held GPS unit recorded the actual route covered and served to record locations of discreet populations, as well as locations where population density or species composition changed. Using Arcview, location data for each species was mapped over the refuge Digital Orthophoto Quarter Quad. Species were selected for mapping according to the working list for the Invasive Plant Atlas of New England (IPANE), and the list compiled by the Rhode Island Invasive Species Council. The resulting map and methodology provides the RI Refuge Complex with a tool for the assessment of existing conditions on all Rhode Island Refuges. Management strategies have already been implemented at Ninigret based on the location data for certain species. Additionally, the map provides the USFWS with coverage data for Northeast NWR assessment. [poster presentation]

A SUMMARY OF FISH SURVEYS THAT WERE CONDUCTED IN RHODE ISLAND’S STREAMS AND PONDS BETWEEN 1992 AND 2003
Alan D. Libby
RI Division of Fish & Wildlife, P.O. Box 218, West Kingston, RI 02892; alibby@netsense.net

Over the last ten years fish surveys have been conducted in all of the state’s watersheds in order to document fish populations and aquatic habitat. A total of 360 localities were surveyed between 1993 and 2002, primarily by electrofishing. To augment the electrofishing survey, supplementary surveys were conducted in selected water bodies in an attempt to identify all of the species present. A variety of techniques that included gill nets, trap nets, and diving were utilized. Seventy-one species of fish, representing 31 families, were identified. Among the fish collected were 32 freshwater species, 11 diadromous, and 28 marine/freshwater species. Twenty-one of the freshwater species are native to RI, whereas the remaining eleven are introduced. The American Eel and the Largemouth Bass were the most widely distributed species collected, occurring in half of the localities sampled. The American Eel and Largemouth Bass were also collected in all ten of the state’s watersheds as were the Bluegill, Chain Pickerel, Golden Shiner, and Pumpkinseed. The American Brook Lamprey and the American Shad were only collected in a single watershed. [poster presentation]

RAPTOR RESTORATION AND RECOVERY
Vivian Maxson and John Maxson
Born To Be Wild Nature Center, 45 Vars Lane, Bradford, RI 02808; btbw-nature-center@excite.com

As one of only two state and federally licensed raptor rehabilitation centers in Rhode Island, we have an inside look at the real problems facing our magnificent birds of prey. The greatest threat to raptors, and all wildlife, continues to be the loss and/or degradation of habitat due to human development and disturbance. At the BTBW Nature Center we work to address the many contributing factors that lead to raptor mortality. A PowerPoint presentation highlights our rehab efforts.
We are currently serving as Site Chairmen for the newly acquired Grills Preserve in Bradford, RI. The 499 acres of mixed deciduous and coniferous forest, as well as wetlands, is vital to many hawks and owls. As top predators on the food chain, their health and stability are indicative of the health and stability of the fauna in that region as a whole. Our observations over the past few years are that the amount of young fledged for some species of hawks does not support a stable population (i.e., Red-shouldered Hawks). Our goal is to identify the various nest sites on the Preserve so that we can obtain data on the status, productivity and response to various management practices used on that property.
[oral presentation]

HABITAT RELATIONSHIPS OF WATERFOWL WINTERING IN NARRAGANSETT BAY
R.A. McKinney1 and S.R. McWilliams2
1US EPA, Office of Research and Development, National Health and Environmental Effects Laboratory, Atlantic Ecology Division, 27 Tarzwell Drive, Narragansett, RI 02882; mckinney.rick@epa.gov
2Department of Natural Resources Science, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI 02881; srmcwilliams@uri.edu

As part of a project investigating the effect of changes in habitat quality brought about by habitat loss or impairment on resident wildlife in coastal ecosystems, we conducted periodic surveys of wintering waterfowl in Narragansett Bay. A total of 17 species of waterfowl were identified, including 10 species of sea ducks, 4 species of dabbling ducks, Canada Geese, Brant, and Mute Swans. Survey data was analyzed using abundance weighted principal component analysis (AWPCA), an exploratory multivariate statistical technique, to investigate habitat and landscape characteristics influencing patterns of utilization by waterfowl. Two distinct groupings of species and habitats were apparent: rocky headland sites and species located near the mouth of the Bay, and shallow, salt marsh dominated cove sites with their associated species. Visual analysis of AWPCA plots revealed that waterfowl at rocky headland sites tended to avoid sites with high residential development and man-made buffer areas in favor of sites with high area, natural vegetated buffer, and high salt marsh area. We identified residential development, total buffer area (including vegetated, forested, and man-made), and salt marsh area within a 100 m buffer around the site as important characteristics to be included in future more rigorous modeling efforts. [poster presentation]

INITIAL BASELINE SURVEY FOR THE COMPOSITION, ABUNDANCE, AND DISTRIBUTION OF THE BUTTERFLY COMMUNITY ON THE RESTORED FIELD
AT THE FRANK CARTER PRESERVE, CHARLESTOWN, RI
Mark J. Mello
Lloyd Center for Environmental Studies, 430 Potomska Rd., Dartmouth, MA 02748;
Research@thelloydcenter.org

An annual mowing regime was established to improve grassland bird habitat on a 28-acre former potato field overgrown with shrubs and sapling trees during the spring 2002 at the Frank Carter Preserve owned by TNC. In order to begin to assess the impact of the mowing regime on the butterfly community within the field, six +500 meter transects coincident with transects established for vegetation inventories were surveyed on 11 dates from May 7 through September 25, 2003. Species were counted within 50 by 15 meter blocks along each transect, and nectaring activity, when it occurred, was also recorded.
One thousand seventy-two butterflies representing thirty-three species were recorded, with American Copper (638) being predominant-more than 4 times as many as the Pearl Crescent, the second-most abundant species. Skipper numbers were surprisingly low (70), 41% of which were the introduced European Skipper. This, combined with the lack of Little Bluestem-feeding skippers and the abundance of the Sheep Sorrel feeding American Copper, presents a picture of a disturbed weedy field habitat currently at this site. Butterflies were distributed throughout the field, with some of the clumping associated with nectar sources present. Predominant nectar sources were: Hoary Mountain-mint, Common Milkweed, hawkweed, dandelion, fleabane, vetch, yarrow, Queen Anne’s Lace and various goldenrods.
Continued mowing should favor increase of graminoids, including Little Bluestem grass, with a concomitant increase in skipper diversity. Care should be taken to assure that nectar sources remain prevalent in the field, however, as both field and adjacent woodland edge species currently utilize a variety of nectar sources within the field. [poster presentation]

DEVELOPING SAMPLING METHODS FOR BIOINDICATORS IN ESTUARINE ZONES
Adam Memon1, Grace Klein-MacPhee2, and James McKenna3
1University of Rhode Island, College of Arts and Sciences, Kingston, RI 02881; adrock358@hotmail.com
2University of Rhode Island, Graduate School of Oceanography, Narragansett Bay Campus,
Narragansett, RI 02882-1197; gracemac@gso.uri.edu
3Williams College, Williamstown, MA; jmckenna@williams.edu

The Coastal 2000 Project was created by the U.S. E.P.A. to establish sampling methods for bioindicators of health in fresh, estuarine, and marine waters, in states that did not have such valid sampling methods. Estuarine waters are the areas of mixed salinity water where rivers meet the ocean. Although they comprise a much smaller percentage of their watershed than purely fresh and/or marine waters, they must be included in coastal aquatic health sampling because they contain aquatic resources that are ecologically interdependent with the resources in their respective watershed. All of these resources are affected by anthropogenic stressors. The goal of this project was to develop sampling methods for estuarine substrate dwelling macroinvertebrates. Substrate grain size was the primary factor in determining the most effective sampling method in an estuarine zone. “D”-Frame net sampling was most effective in waters with cobble-substrate bottoms, and core sampling was most effective in waters with soft sediment bottoms. Macroinvertebrate numbers and species diversity varied within each stream system, due to varying ecosystem parameters, primarily salinity. The methods for sampling bioindicators in this project will contribute toward the establishment of E.P.A. sampling protocols of New England estuarine health. [poster presentation]

WINTER LANDBIRD POPULATIONS ON BLOCK ISLAND: TRENDS WITHIN AND BETWEEN YEARS
Shaibal S. Mitra1 and Christopher J. Raithel2
1Biology Department, College of Staten Island,
2800 Victory Boulevard, Staten Island, NY 10314; mitra@mail.csi.cuny.edu
2RI Division of Fish and Wildlife, P. O. Box 218, West Kingston, RI 02892

Christmas Bird Counts (CBCs) provide perhaps the largest and most broad-scale source of information concerning winter distribution and abundance of North American birds. Major limitations of these counts include (a) the likelihood that some species in some regions are still engaged in southbound migration during the CBCs’ late December time period; and (b) uncertainty concerning the impacts of local movements and facultative dispersal on inter-year variation in species totals in any given count circle. From 1995-2004, we studied winter landbird populations on Block Island by bracketing the traditional CBC with similar counts in November and February. Block Island’s insular setting and depauperate breeding avifauna facilitated analyses of population trends within and between years. Major findings included: (1) December (CBC) estimates of landbird numbers were supported as robust indicators of post-migratory winter populations; (2) several species traditionally regarded as anomalous ‘lingering migrants’ on regional CBCs actually resembled typical winter-resident species in terms of Dec-Feb trajectories; (3) post-migratory dispersal was supported as a factor influencing within-year population trends for several species; and (4) long-term trends for several species demonstrated the increasing importance of Block Island’s maritime woodlands to winter populations of many species of birds. [oral presentation]

EMIGRATION BEHAVIOR OF RADIO-IMPLANTED SPOTTED SALAMANDERS ON GOLF COURSES IN SOUTHERN RHODE ISLAND
Kate Montieth
University of Rhode Island, Department of Natural Resources Science, Room 105, Coastal Institute in Kingston, Kingston, RI 02881; kmon9393@postoffice.uri.edu

I used telemetry to assess emigration behavior of radio-implanted Spotted Salamanders on golf courses in Rhode Island. I conducted fieldwork at an active golf course, a golf course under construction, and a forested control site. The mean maximum dispersal distance was 145.8 17.6 m (range 44-467 m), which was similar to past research. However, maximum dispersal was twice as far as previously published dispersal distances. I calculated that a “life zone” of 184.5 m encircling breeding ponds is needed to encompass 95% of the adult population. Phenology of movements varied among study sites, with salamanders at the golf course under construction moving more often than at other study sites. I used an information-theoretic and a resource selection function approach to develop habitat models to predict salamander occurrence. Habitat preferences were consistent with previous research. These results suggest that existing regulations in Rhode Island are inadequate to protect adult Spotted Salamanders. Under current state law, only pond basins >0.1 ha are regulated and no adjacent habitat is protected. Given that a life zone of 184.5 m is needed to protect adult Spotted Salamanders, this species may be extirpated from parts of the state unless current wetland regulations are modified. [oral presentation]

TRI-TROPHIC DIRECT AND INDIRECT EFFECTS OF PLANT SECONDARY COMPOUNDS: BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEES PREFER TO EAT GYPSY MOTH CATERPILLARS
THAT HAVE EATEN DIFFERENT TYPES OF ASPEN LEAVES
Martina Müller1, Scott McWilliams1, David Podlesak1,
Jack Donaldson2, and Richard Lindroth2
1Department of Natural Resources Science, University of Rhode Island, 105 Coastal Institute, Kingston, RI 02881; MMUL8252@postoffice.uri.edu
2Department of Entomology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI

Increased atmospheric carbon dioxide causes plants to produce more secondary compounds, and this can reduce herbivory and possibly influence predation rates on herbivores that ate such plants. We investigated preference of Black-capped Chickadees for Gypsy Moth caterpillars that had eaten aspen containing different levels of 2o compounds. We found that chickadees demonstrated a strong preference; however, it depended greatly on previous experience. [poster presentation]

THE USE OF ASPEN WOOD FILTER TO ABSORB POLYCYCLIC AROMATIC HYDROCARBONS FROM A PROVIDENCE DETENTION POND
Kevin A. Neary and Tom Boving
Department of Geosciences, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI 02881; knea5752@postoffice.uri.edu

Road runoff contains high levels of anthropogenic contaminants, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which pollute water bodies. PAHs pose a negative threat to humans because they are a geotoxin and carcinogen. PAHs also lower marine habitat diversity. To protect water bodies, detention ponds are installed to mitigate the effect of PAHs and other contaminants. However, detention ponds do not completely remove PAHs from the environment. At URI there has been a significant amount of small-scale testing to determine if aspen wood can be used to absorb PAHs. With this research a full-scale aspen wood filter was installed at a detention pond (Providence, RI, I-195, Gano Street). The pond system, built in 1999, retrieves runoff from 13 urban acres and the effluent enters the Seekonk River. To remove the PAHs from the environment, multiple filters were constructed to determine the most advantageous size of the filter, amount of wood needed, duration of the wood’s effectiveness, and degree of absorption. With the collected data calculations will be made comparing the volume of wood installed to the mass of PAHs absorbed. Based on the results, aspen wood filters could be installed in additional detention pond systems to remove PAHs from the environment.
[oral presentation]

SIDE SCAN SONAR MAPPING OF GREENWICH BAY, RHODE ISLAND
Bryan A. Oakley and Jon C. Boothroyd
Department of Geosciences, 317 Woodward Hall, 9 E. Alumni Avenue,
University of Rhode Island, Kingston RI 02881; Bryan_Oakley@hotmail.com

We used high-resolution (50 m/500 khz) side scan sonar to map the Holocene, and Late Wisconsinan sediment package in Greenwich Bay (GB), Rhode Island during the summer of 2003. 170 kilometers of tracklines were run in an east-west direction to provide full coverage with up to 50% overlap. Depths in GB range from approximately 1-3 m in the coves and shallow shelf areas, up to 12 m in the deeper central basin. Preliminary results show that the shallow areas of the Bay appear to be dominated by a sandy facies, with a coating of organic material (plant and shell fragments), while the coves contain finer-grained sediment with abundant organic matter, indicative of a lower-energy environment. Glacially derived boulders crop out offshore of Warwick Neck and in the vicinity of Sally Rock, indicating till and proximal braided river deposits respectively. The coves are littered with the remains of coastal structures, whereas some sandy areas of the Bay reflect retained bottom disturbance from quahog harvesting.
The ultimate goal of this project is to better understand the benthic geologic habitats of Greenwich Bay by mapping their type and extent. The high resolution of this mapping also allows for some determination of the human impacts on the benthos of GB from boating and shellfishing.
Greenwich Bay is an extremely productive arm of Narragansett Bay that supports a variety of shellfish and other aquatic wildlife vital to the state’s shellfish industry and the overall ecological health of Narragansett Bay. This work is being undertaken to: 1) assist the Coastal Resources Management Council with the creation of a Special Area Management Plan for Greenwich Bay, and 2) include the Bay floor geology into a forthcoming Quaternary Map of Rhode Island by the Rhode Island Geological Survey. [poster presentation]

BACKYARD BIODIVERSITY
Garry Plunkett
Rhode Island Wild Plant Society
266 Indian Point Rd, Tiverton, RI 02878; gplunkettri@aol.com

Moving into a home built on a lot subdivided from a family farm many years ago, I was reluctant to give up the haymeadow that was behind the new house. What could be more beautiful? That question began a personal journey of discovery into the marvelous possibilities of habitat creation on a small, suburban house lot. The fascination with watching nature work soon precluded thoughts of a traditional, artificial landscape. Instead of turf and specimen plantings, the original meadow has evolved, with some human supplement, into what could be called a “successional landscape.” There is a meadow, a pond-marsh, an old-field thicket, and a nascent mixed woodland. There is total biomass recycling, and multiple microhabitats. It is beautiful, biodiverse, and incredibly interesting. This overview and slide presentation will show what is possible, and explain the mindset required for making it work. [oral presentation]

GREEN FROG TADPOLES INFLUENCE POPULATION STRUCTURE
IN POND-BREEDING AMPHIBIAN COMMUNITIES.
Christopher J. Raithel1 and Peter W. C. Paton2
1 RI Division of Fish and Wildlife, P.O. Box 218, West Kingston, RI 02892; craithel@netsense.net
2 Department Natural Resources Science, University of Rhode Island, Kingston RI 02881;
ppaton@uri.edu

It is widely recognized that many pond-breeding amphibian communities are declining and are important conservation priorities. Such communities are complicated; their composition and demography, and therefore their viability, depend on both within-pond and landscape-scale characteristics. Significant within-pond features affecting amphibian populations include the physical characteristics of the breeding site (e.g., hydrology), the habitat types (e.g., vegetation), and also species that compete with or depredate them. Although ample experimental data support the premise that other amphibians, fish, or invertebrates can regulate amphibian communities, field studies at landscape scales with large samples are relatively rare. Of such studies, the effects of fish are best known, but few studies have incorporated the effects of competing amphibians or invertebrates into amphibian community models. We used Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) to investigate the relationships between potential predators and competitors (green frog larval populations and predatory invertebrates) and larval populations of Spotted Salamanders and Wood Frogs at landscape scales. Our results suggest that populations of predatory invertebrates do not significantly predict larval populations of Wood Frogs and Spotted Salamanders but that there are significant relationships between Green Frog populations and those species. Therefore, predictive models of Wood Frog and Spotted Salamander populations may not need to incorporate invertebrate populations as a covariate, but should probably consider Green Frog larvae in this regard. [oral presentation]

EARLY ECOLOGICAL RESPONSES TO RESTORATION OF A TIDAL POND AND MARSH COMPLEX
IN THE NARRAGANSETT BAY NATIONAL ESTUARINE RESEARCH RESERVE
Kenneth B. Raposa1, James Turek2, and Andy Lipsky3
1Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, 55 South Reserve Drive,
Prudence Island, RI 02872; kenny@gso.uri.edu
2NOAA Restoration Center, 28 Tarzwell Drive, Narragansett, RI 02882; James.G.Turek@noaa.gov
3US Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, 60 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886; andrew.lipsky@ri.usda.gov

Tidal exchange was restored to the flow-restricted Potter Pond salt marsh on Prudence Island in the Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (NBNERR) in March 2003. Ecological monitoring was conducted three years before and one year after restoration to document ecological changes. Simultaneous monitoring was conducted in a nearby marsh to serve as an experimental control. Tidal restoration increased the tide range in Potter Pond from 8 cm in 2000 to 110 cm in 2003. The cover of live Phragmites decreased by 26%, the average height of Phragmites decreased by 40 cm, and the height of Spartina alterniflora increased by 4 cm. None of these changes was observed at the control marsh. Seven additional bird species were observed at Potter Pond after restoration, and the number of birds observed increased from 6 to 85 per viewing effort, mostly due to large numbers of shorebirds using the newly exposed mud flats. Nekton density decreased from 100 individuals
m-2 to 38 m-2, probably due to the change from subtidal to mostly intertidal conditions and to increased predation by birds. Initial results from monitoring demonstrate that restoration of the Potter Pond marsh complex clearly improved tidal exchange, salt marsh vegetation, and bird use. [poster presentation]

THE DRAMATIC COMEBACK OF OSPREYS IN RHODE ISLAND
Jessica Redinger1 and Lori Gibson2
120 Moscow Brook Trail, Hope Valley, RI 02832; jred7548@postoffice.uri.edu
2RI DEM Division of Fish and Wildlife, P.O. Box 281, West Kingston, RI 02892

The Osprey (Pandion h. carolinensis) population in Rhode Island suffered a dramatic crash in the late 1950s due to the usage of the pesticide DDT. Since the cessation of its use, the population has steadily risen and has achieved levels close to its previous numbers. To document Osprey population changes, Rhode Island’s Department of Fish and Wildlife has been monitoring Ospreys intensively since 1977. The database is the largest in the state of any bird species. A spotting scope is used to observe nest building, egg incubating, hatchling, and fledgling counts, during mid-April, early June and mid-July. This year (2003), 71 active nests with a total of 82 fledged chicks were observed. The data were compiled in a map with geographic locations of nests accompanied by attribute tables for each nest. This work helps to inform the general public and to underscore the importance of environmental policy and management decisions. It is important to study osprey populations because such birds of prey can act as indicators for the health of the environment.
Since the banning of the pesticide DDT, Osprey populations have increased to numbers close to “pre-DDT” levels. The Department of Environmental Management in Rhode Island has been intensively studying Osprey populations from 1977 until 2003. The purpose of this project was to compile the data to show the public that its choice of environmental policy and management has dramatic consequences. [poster presentation]

USE OF BENTHIC INFAUNA TO CHARACTERIZE ZOSTERA MARINA TRANSPLANT BED MATURITY
Ralph Riccio1,2, Michelle Denault1, Wendy Norden1, and J. Stanley Cobb2
1Save the Bay, Inc., 434 Smith St, Providence, RI 02908; 401-272-3540 ext. 114; mdenault@savebay.org.
2Department of Biological Sciences, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI 02881

Eelgrass, Zostera marina, is widely recognized as an important habitat for the shallow water ecosystems. Narragansett Bay has shown a dramatic decline in eelgrass populations since the 1930s. Progressive habitat restoration methods have sought to replenish Eelgrass habitat through transplanting. During the 2002 field season, Save the Bay, Inc conducted three large-scale transplants (625 m2) using the TERF (Transplant Eelgrass Remotely with Frames) methodology as described in Short et al. (2002). The three restoration sites are barren, unvegetated sand flats, which sustained natural healthy beds at one time. Benthic infaunal communities of transplant beds, natural beds, and unvegetated sites were analyzed to compare richness and diversity. After three months of submersion, the species richness within the restored beds was significantly different from that of the natural beds (p<0.007). Restored beds exhibited one to two dominant species while donor beds contained four to five dominant species.
[poster presentation]

THE NATURE CONSERVANCY’S CONSERVATION PLANNING PROCESS
Kevin Ruddock and Julie Lundgren
The Nature Conservancy in Rhode Island, 159 Waterman Street, Providence, RI 02906;
kruddock@tnc.org, jlundgren@tnc.org

The mission of The Nature Conservancy is the long-term conservation of all biodiversity on Earth. Recognizing shortcomings in the single species approach to conservation, The Nature Conservancy is emphasizing the conservation of ecological communities and ecosystems. Coupled with this emphasis has been an increased appreciation for natural processes and landscape-level factors that sustain these communities and ecosystems. By expanding the traditional approach of protecting rare species and communities to include common ecosystems that are representative of their geographic region, we can create a “portfolio” of conservation areas that capture a broad diversity of both common and rare species. The goal is to encompass multiple viable examples of all native species and natural communities in sufficient number, distribution, and quality to insure their long-term persistence. Freshwater and marine systems are being integrated into the portfolio as new analytic techniques become available. This portfolio can then be used to guide local conservation efforts that contribute meaningfully to large-scale biodiversity. The Nature Conservancy of Rhode Island and other states use this information to create conservation plans and strategies for priority sites based on existing protection, conservation value, threat, feasibility, and potential partners. We are convinced that this is an effective and efficient strategy toward our mission of biodiversity conservation. [poster presentation]

COMPARISON OF BIOTIC AND ABIOTIC SOIL CHARACTERISTICS BENEATH TWO NATIVE SHRUBS
Scott Ruhren
Department of Biological Sciences
Ranger Hall, University of Rhode Island, Kingston RI 02881; ruhren@etal.uri.edu

Soil characteristics may be altered by invasive species yet correlated effects on soil biota have not been examined. The diverse and abundant arthropods of forest soils are excellent indicators of ecosystem health. Soil algae may be just as useful. Smilax rotundifolia L. is an aggressively colonizing native woody vine that often grows in dense shrub-like patches. This work examined the correlative effects of S. rotundifolia on biotic and abiotic aspects in relation to Arrowwood Viburnum (Viburnum dentatum L.), a less aggressive native shrub. Soil arthropods were sampled with pitfall traps. Soil algae communities were assayed using the buried slide technique for three months. The microclimate (relative humidity and temperature of the air and soil temperature) was evaluated beneath the two shrub species and on the forest floor. Finally, soil properties (pH, cation exchange capacity, nitrate, ammonium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, aluminum, boron, manganese, zinc, copper, iron, lead, cadmium, nickel, and chromium) were evaluated. The most common soil invertebrates were ants (Formicidae), ground beetles (Carabidae), and springtails (Collembola). Between-site variation in soil arthropods was greater than between shrub species. Soil algae and fungal hyphae were detected on buried slides. Trends in soil fertility were not detected. Microclimate did not vary significantly. [oral presentation]

MAXIMUM STREAM TEMPERATURE ESTIMATION FROM AIR TEMPERATURE DATA AND ITS RELATIONSHIP TO BROOK TROUT (SALVELINUS FONTINALIS)
HABITAT REQUIREMENTS IN RHODE ISLAND
Saul Saila, Melany Cheeseman, and Denise Poyer
Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Association, 203 Arcadia Road, Hope Valley, Rhode Island 02832; denise.poyer@wpwa.org

Stream water temperature is one of the most important parameters in watershed level ecosystem studies. It is important in relation to chemical processes as well as influencing many biological processes, such as growth and mortality of aquatic organisms. Variations in stream water temperatures are also important in limnological studies.
A literature review of critical maximum stream temperatures for Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) was made. In addition, various stream temperature models were examined in order to assess their value. Analysis of annual local air temperature records indicated a significant increase of about 2.66 degrees centigrade in data from the Kingston, Rhode Island weather station. No significant changes in the ground water levels or precipitation were found in data available from the same area. Five daily weather-related inputs (maximum air temperature, minimum air temperature, precipitation, evaporation, and dry bulb temperature) and one output variable (maximum daily stream temperature) were utilized to train, calibrate, and validate a neural network model designed to predict maximum summer stream temperatures from the above-mentioned atmospheric input variables. The predictive performance of the model was found to be very good. An application of the predictive model was made to assess the probable effects of an observed drought year (2002) on water temperatures related to Brook Trout survival. It was determined that somewhat higher stream temperatures were indicated for the drought period when compared with the year 2003 data from a nearby source. The potential utility of the neural network model for predicting critical maximum daily stream temperatures when water temperatures are not available was demonstrated. [poster presentation]

COVENTRY HIGH SCHOOL’S PAWTUXET RIVER WATER QUALITY PROJECT
Kathleen Sullivan, Robyn Pothier, and Students
Coventry High School, 40 Reservoir Road, Coventry, RI 02816

Coventry High School chemistry students will display their Pawtuxet River water quality field study work accomplished over the past five years. The CHS science department has officially adopted three river sites along the Pawtuxet River in Coventry. Students’ responsibilities are: to monitor the chemical and biological parameters of the river water; to obtain, compile, and analyze data regarding the health of the river; to clean all unnatural debris/litter both in the river and on its banks; and to participate in environmentally sound activities that will improve the water quality for all aquatic plants and animals. [poster presentation]

METHOPRENE INFLUENCE ON CULEX SPP. AND OCHLEROTATUS JAPONICUS MOSQUITO OVIPOSITION BEHAVIOR
Channsotha Suom, Mari Butler, Roger LeBrun, and Howard Ginsberg
Department of Plant Sciences and Entomology, University of Rhode Island,
Woodward Hall, Kingston, RI 02881; IgNutsVR4@cox.net

Methoprene is a juvenile hormone analogue that inhibits the emergence of adult mosquitoes. Unfortunately, it can affect other invertebrates and could have adverse environmental effects if not used correctly. To quantify the role of methoprene in mosquito oviposition preference, ten pairs of methoprene treated and untreated buckets were placed around East Farm at the University of Rhode Island to encourage oviposition by Culex spp. and Ochlerotatus japonicus mosquitoes. The numbers of eggs and egg rafts laid did not differ significantly between treated and untreated buckets. Therefore, methoprene neither attracted nor deterred mosquito egg laying. [oral presentation]

IMPACTS OF THE INVASIVE ALGA GRATELOUPIA TURUTURU ON THE NATIVE ALGA CHONDRUS CRISPUS
James Torbett, Anthony Fuda, Francis Piercey, Martine Villalard-Bohnsack, and Marcie Marston
Department of Biology, Roger Williams University, Bristol, RI 02809; mmarston@rwu.edu

Since its introduction, the invasive red alga Grateloupia turuturu has spread throughout Narragansett Bay, along the Rhode Island coastline, and to both Block Island and Long Island. At these locations, G. turuturu has established primarily in Chondrus crispus beds. This study examines G. turuturu’s impact on the native alga C. crispus. For the past 7 years, the percent cover of G. turuturu and C. crispus has been monitored at several locations in Narragansett Bay. The average percent cover of G. turuturu at these sites has remained at over 60%, while C. crispus coverage has decreased to less than 15%. Our field studies also include placing sand-coated plates inoculated with G. turuturu spores in C. crispus beds. Preliminary results suggest that G. turuturu thalli adversely affect C. crispus. In addition, we have initiated studies to examine the potential impact of G. turuturu on the genetic structure of the Rhode Island C. crispus population. Several different regions of the C. crispus genome are being sequenced from specimens collected throughout Narragansett Bay. The genetic diversity of these sequences is lower than we expected based on previous reports in the literature. We are now testing more specimens and using additional molecular markers to look for regions of greater diversity. Although our preliminary field data suggest that G. turuturu negatively impacts C. crispus, the extent of this impact is not yet known. [poster presentation]

SHELLFISH HABITAT ASSESSMENT, SITE SELECTION, AND SEED RELEASES FOR THE NORTH CAPE OIL SPILL RESTORATION PROGRAM
James Turek1, Karin Tammi3, John Holly3, Kathryn Ford5, Najih Lazar4,
John Catena2, Art Ganz4 and John King5
NOAA Restoration Center, 1Narragansett, RI and 2Gloucester, MA; James.G.Turek@noaa.gov
3NOAA-RIDEM Shellfish Restoration Program, Narragansett and Jerusalem, RI;
4RIDEM Division of Fish and Wildlife, Jamestown, RI;
5URI Graduate School of Oceanography, Narragansett, RI

State and federal trustees prepared a restoration plan addressing natural resource injuries resulting from the 1996 North Cape oil spill that released 828,000 gallons of heating oil into Block Island Sound. This plan which resulted from a settlement with the responsible party in 2000, included shellfish restoration to address the loss of 150 million surf clams (Spisula solidissima) and 648,000 other bivalves by targeting three species. The 5-year effort includes restoring Quahog (Merceneria mercenaria), Bay Scallop (Argopecten irradians), and Eastern Oyster (Crassostrea virginica) populations in Rhode Island waters. The goals of the projects are to restore lost shellfish biomass (due to direct loss and foregone production) and ecological function by releasing shellfish seed. The 2002-2003 projects included the purchase of disease-free, hatchery-grown scallops and release to South County salt ponds, and remote set of disease-free oyster spat set on shell fragments in Rhode Island coastal waters. Habitat assessments helped determine most suitable sites for shellfish release. Boat-towed underwater video with DGPS was used in completing scallop habitat surveys, with a total of 54 transects and 12+ spot surveys completed in four ponds. Video surveys provided data on sea-grass (Zostera marina, Ruppia maritima) and macro-algae (e.g., Ulva, Codium) presence and cover density, as well as non-vegetated bottom habitat conditions. Sediment grab samples from each pond (n = 27) were analyzed for grain size to verify bottom type in the areas assessed. A total 49.4 acres were identified as potential scallop release sites based on the survey results, and 2.1 million seed (mean size = 28 mm) were released to Ninigret, Green Hill, Potter, and Quonochontaug Ponds in September-October 2003. For oyster work, diver-snorkeling surveys were completed at 53 sites to determine habitat condition, following a desktop screening of potential release sites. Based on the screening, fieldwork, and oyster disease test results, four Narragansett Bay and salt pond sites (Bissel Cove, Potters Cove, Smelt Brook Cove, Spectacle Cove) were selected. In November 2003, a total of ~465,000 set oyster spat (mean size = 28 mm) were released to these sites. Initial post-release surveys indicate encouraging scallop survival, although more intensive monitoring will be conducted in spring-fall 2004 to quantify both scallop and oyster survivorship, growth, recruitment, and biomass. [oral presentation]

ASSESSING WILDLAND FIRE POTENTIAL IN RHODE ISLAND FORESTS
Anthony Veltri1, YQ Wang1, Paul Jordan2, and Catherine Sparks2
1Department of Natural Resources Science, University of Rhode Island, CIK, 1 Greenhouse Rd, Kingston, RI 02881; tony@edc.uri.edu, yqwang@uri.edu
2Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, 235 Promenade Street, Providence, RI 02908; pjordan@dem.state.ri.us, csparks@dem.state.ri.us

Rhode Island’s 393,000 acres of forest land cover 59% of the state’s total land area. Each year, Rhode Island forests are affected by numerous wildland fires, the majority of which occur within 1/4 mile of another land use, increasing the risk to structures should a fire occur. Foresters from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) are charged with the task of coordinating fire abatement for the state.
The primary focus of this research is to construct a GIS and remote sensing-based composite forest fire fuel load and fire danger map for the state of Rhode Island construct fire danger and fire behavior mapsets using BEHAVE and FLAMMAP fire modeling software. The goal is to identify areas where wildland fires are likely to occur based on co-occurrence of fuel loading and natural features such as slope, aspect, and weather that influence fire behavior. Specifically, this research focuses on creating a forest fire fuel load and fire behavior map that can be used by RIDEM foresters for the purposes of enhancing the state’s forest fire protection plan, predicting tree mortality should a burn occur and for prescribed burns, providing forest fire protection on state lands, and assisting rural volunteer fire departments. [oral presentation]

SMALL MAMMMAL INVENTORY AT THE NATURE CONSERVANCY’S FRANCIS C. CARTER PRESERVE IN CHARLESTOWN, RHODE ISLAND
Suzanne Vetromile
College of the Environment and Life Sciences, University of Rhode Island,
Kingston, RI 02881; svetromile@yahoo.com

Between April and September 2003, during a total of 1800 trap-nights, four species of small mammals (161 individuals) were captured at The Nature Conservancy’s Francis C. Carter Preserve in Charlestown, Rhode Island. In order of decreasing abundance, they included White-footed Mouse (Peromyscus leucopus), Southern Red-backed Vole (Clethrionomys gapperi), Masked Shrew (Sorex cinereus), and Northern Short-tailed Shrew (Blarina brevicauda). Capture rates and species diversity were greatest in the forested wetland and the pine barren, and lowest in the oak-heath woodland and the grassland. No rare species were found. However, in terms of preserving biodiversity, it is also important to protect representative species. Our results provide baseline information for future ecological management at the Francis C. Carter Preserve, as well as further investigations into the abundance and diversity of small mammals in different natural community types in southern New England. These findings may be of value to local, state, and federal organizations, agencies, and individuals involved with land conservation efforts. [poster presentation]

UNDERSTANDING INVASIVE SPECIES IN THEIR NATIVE RANGE: ECOLOGICAL AND GENETIC APPROACHES TO COLONIZATION IN IMPATIENS CAPENSIS.
Eric von Wettberg
Brown University, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Providence, RI 02912;
Eric_von_Wettberg@brown.edu

The biological attributes of invasive species, such as genetic diversity, developmental plasticity, and local adaptation can affect their ability to invade undisturbed habitats. These biological attributes are poorly understood for many species in their native ranges, and often even less so in the areas where they are invasive. Understanding these attributes can inform our efforts to predict the course of new invasions and to develop control measures. I am studying Impatiens capensis, an annual that is not invasive in North America, where it is native, but that is invasive in parts of Europe. Within its native range in New England, Impatiens capensis grows in two habitat types: open streambeds and drier forest understory habitats. Plants from the two habitats show considerable differentiation in their responsiveness to shade, their branching patterns, and flowering time. The ability to differentiate quickly into forms specialized to specific habitats may underlie the ability of Impatiens to be invasive, as colonists into one site can quickly invade nearby areas with different habitat characteristics. I am using molecular techniques and greenhouse experiments to determine the frequency and rapidity with which Impatiens population differentiation occurs, and to find the genetic underpinnings of this differentiation. [poster presentation]

ASSESSING MANAGEMENT OPTIONS FOR COMMON REED (PHRAGMITES AUSTRALIS)
AT WESQUAGE POND, NARRAGANSETT, RHODE ISLAND: A WILDLIFE PERSPECTIVE
Jennifer West
Department of Natural Resources Science, University of Rhode Island, 009 Coastal Institute, Kingston, RI 02881; jwes1945@postoffice.uri.edu

The surrounding wetlands of Wesquage Pond, a barrier beach pond located amid dense residential development in Narragansett, Rhode Island, are dominated by the invasive genotype of Common Reed (Phragmites australis). The beneficial and adverse aspects of P. australis were evaluated from a wildlife perspective with the goal of providing the Audubon Society of Rhode Island (ASRI), the owners of the pond, with a database of information to aid in its management. Surveys of birds and other wildlife were conducted on a weekly basis from May to November, in effort to capture various uses of the pond and surrounding P. australis by wildlife, from breeding to foraging to resting. In addition to field observations, a thorough literature review on the ecology and management of P. australis was conducted, as well as interviews with a variety of specialists regarding their opinions about the need for, and preferred methods of, P. australis management. Despite the limited evidence found concerning P. australis as breeding grounds for large numbers of avian species, the site is heavily used otherwise by many species of waterfowl, shorebirds, and perching birds, along with various waders which were often only seen very near the protective P. australis dominated border. Wetlands dominated by invasive plant species may not serve primarily as breeding grounds, as in this case, but their borders may serve the critical function of providing a “sanctuary” from human disturbance, thus increasing wildlife usage of the site. [oral presentation]

FOUNDATION OF A NEW BREEDING POPULATION OF DIAMONDBACK TERRAPINS, MALACLEMYS TERRAPIN, ON NARROW RIVER, NARRAGANSETT, IN RHODE ISLAND
Amanda Whispell, Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island, Narragansett RI 02882; awhi9955@postoffice.uri.edu

The Diamondback Terrapin, Malaclemys terrapin, is an estuarine turtle that is found along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of North America. While the terrapins still flourish throughout most of their range, the numbers in Rhode Island have been declining for numerous years, with only one breeding population remaining. This population has been subject to numerous human-related disturbances, as well as high levels of nest predation, thus causing a need for management. Terrapin conservation is difficult due to the specific ecological, geological, and hydrological constraints required for their successful proliferation in an environment. Long-lived species, such as the Diamondback Terrapin, which has a lifespan of about 40 years, pose special challenges for monitoring, management, and conservation. Long-term monitoring would thus be required to adequately assess the population trends and determine the success of the preservation efforts. The goal of this paper is to determine an appropriate location for the development of a new Diamondback Terrapin population on the Narrow River in Narragansett, Rhode Island. This location would have to fulfill the requirements for successful breeding and continued survival of the new population, and would eventually become the site of a head start program geared toward maintaining the Diamondback Terrapin’s presence in Rhode Island. [oral presentation]

ECOLOGICAL RESEARCH AND CONSERVATION: IS THERE A PLACE FOR NATURAL HISTORY?
John A. Wiens
The Nature Conservancy, 4245 North Fairfax Drive, Suite 100, Arlington, VA 22203 USA; jwiens@tnc.org

What scientific research does conservation need to do its job? Increasingly, conservation organizations are incorporating such things as “functional landscapes,” “ecological integrity,” or “ecosystem services” into their planning. As ecological research attempts to provide substance to these fashionable terms, there is a danger that the core elements of natural history-organisms and species-will be left behind. Using several examples from research in landscape ecology, I will show that the organismal perspective is too important to be ignored. I will then go on to consider two persistent gaps in conservation-one between science and real-world practice, the other between science/practice and policy. The first arises from a conflict between the immediate, “just do it,” needs of conservation and the tradition of science to be careful and contemplative (and lengthy). The second reflects the strong cultural differences between the worlds of science and policy. Bridging the gaps will require individuals who are knowledgeable and comfortable on both sides of the gaps. [keynote address]

SURVEY OF COMMON REED IN RHODE ISLAND LIPARA SPECIES (DIPTERA; CHLORIPIDAE)
Kristopher J. Winiarski, Heather Faubert, Lisa Tewksbury,
Richard Casagrande, and Adam Lambert
Biological Control Laboratory, Department of Plant Sciences, URI, Kingston, RI 02881;
kwin4234@postoffice.uri.edu

Common Reed (Phragmites australis) is an invasive species that in recent decades has rapidly expanded in North American freshwater wetlands and coastal ecosystems. Along with displacing important native plants, P. australis has limited wildlife value and it changes ecosystem processes. Recently research began on biological control of P. australis. The first step of this process involves understanding the insects already present in North America and feeding on the plant. My research centers on the genus Lipara, non-native flies that cause shoot galls in P. australis. There are two species present in Rhode Island, L. similis and L. rufitarsis; both species kill the apical meristem, resulting in a shorter stem and preventing the plant from creating an inflorescence. My main objectives are to find the percentage of stems infested by Lipara species and to determine the habitat characteristics of each species. A total of 15 sites were surveyed across southern Rhode Island. We randomly cut 60 stems from each site, 30 from an edge transect and 30 from the center. All stems were then measured and dissected for Lipara presence. We find a significant difference between the species in where they are found in a stand, L. similis preferring the interior and L. rufitarsis preferring the edge of a stand. Overall infestation rates by Lipara species average 11.8% in Rhode Island. [poster presentation]