The Ecology of Rhode Island’s Forests
March 4, 2005
Rhodes On-the-Pawtuxet, Cranston, RI

A BRIEF HISTORY OF FIRE IN RHODE ISLAND’S FORESTS
Tom Bourn, Deputy Chief
RIDEM Division of Forest Environment
1037 Hartford Pike, North Scituate, RI 02857 USA tbourn@dem.state.ri.us

Rhode Island’s forests have been affected by fire since the retreat of the last glaciers. The influence of fire has had a lesser impact on Rhode Island forests than other natural or man-made phenomena over the same time period. Virtually all forest fires in Rhode Island have been from human activity. [oral presentation]

HABITAT PREFERENCE OF WATERFOWL WINTERING IN NARRAGANSETT BAY AND ALONG THE EAST COAST OF THE UNITED STATES
Heather Burnell and Rick McKinney
US Environmental Protection Agency, Atlantic Ecology Division,
27 Tarzwell Drive, Narragansett, RI 02882 USA
burnell.heather@epa.gov, mckinney.rick@epa.gov

Many species of waterfowl use coastal marine habitats at certain stages of their life histories. Waterfowl habitat preference along the east coast of the United States is undetermined, yet it is important to know both for habitat management and waterfowl conservation. Narragansett Bay is an important winter habitat for many species of waterfowl and may be representative of other locations along the East Coast. We looked at habitat preferences of Bufflehead, Common Eider, American Black Duck, and Common Goldeneye in Narragansett Bay, and identified 4 main habitat types: shallow coves, shorelines, open water, and marshes. Annual data from the Narragansett Bay Winter Waterfowl Survey showed that Buffleheads prefer shallow coves, eiders prefer shorelines, American Black Ducks prefer marshes, and Goldeneyes prefer open water. Habitat preferences exhibited by these species differed at other winter habitats along the U.S. East Coast, where data from the USFWS Midwinter Waterfowl Survey revealed that Buffleheads prefer marshes, eiders prefer shallow coves, American Black Ducks prefer marshes, and Goldeneyes prefer shallow coves. Our results suggest that there may be regional differences in habitat preference exhibited by wintering waterfowl, but other factors, such as differences in survey protocols, will need to be considered. [poster presentation]

SOCIAL ASPECTS OF FOREST LANDOWNER ATTITUDES
Brett J. Butler
USDA Forest Service
11 Campus Boulevard, Suite 200, Newtown Square, Pennsylvania 19073
bbutler01@fs.fed.us

The fate of the forests of Rhode Island will be largely determined by the people and organizations who own the land and the forces that are influencing their decisions. One of the largest impacts is increasing population pressures. In particular, these forces are influencing the 27,000 private forest owners who control three-quarters of the state’s forestland. Private owners possess their land primarily for aesthetic and privacy reasons. Forestry activities are occurring on their lands, but natural resource professional are usually not involved. A high percentage of the forestland is owned by people who are 75 years or older and many owners intend to sell or transfer their land in the near future. Given increasing population pressures and the prospect of many new forest owners in the near future, the state and fate of the forests of Rhode Island are changing.

100 YEARS OF FORESTRY IN RHODE ISLAND: A REVIEW OF THE CONDITION OF RHODE ISLAND’S FORESTS
Thomas A. Dupree, Chief
RIDEM Division of Forest Environment
1037 Hartford Pike, North Scituate, RI 02857 USA tdupree@dem.state.ri.us

Forestry as a function of state government will turn 100 years old in April of 2006. The speaker will provide a broad overview of the condition of the state’s forests based upon the most recent Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) conducted by the USDA Forest Service. Additionally, today’s forest will be contrasted against the forests of the past. The speaker will provide a broad overview of current forest planning efforts that establish the state’s role in protecting, preserving, and managing the forest resources of the future. [oral presentation]

INVASIVE SWALLOW-WORTS AND ASSOCIATED INSECT HERBIVORES IN RHODE ISLAND
Megan C. Dyer, Lisa A. Tewksbury, and Richard A. Casagrande
Department of Plant Sciences, 9 E. Alumni Avenue, Suite 7, University of Rhode Island,
Kingston, RI 02881 USA MCD825@aol.com

Invasive swallow-worts were brought to the U.S. from Europe in the 19th century. They are now invading natural habitats and out-competing native flora. In 2004, 36 cities and towns in Rhode Island were surveyed for swallow-wort. Of the 128 locations surveyed, Black Swallow-wort was found in 29 locations and Pale Swallow-wort in one. Nine of the positive sites were randomly selected for further study including insect surveys and a biomass measurement. There was a high variability of degree of swallow-wort infestation among the nine sites, which could be due to the length of time it has been established in the area, or to differences in its ability to out-compete plants. Homopterous insects (planthoppers, leafhoppers, and aphids) were the most abundant in our surveys, although there was very little feeding damage found on the stems and leaves of the plants. The results from this study could be used in the future as baseline data on insects and to study the rate of spread of swallow-wort. Currently there is discussion of initiating a biological control program for swallow-wort by the USDA-ARS (Agriculture Research Service), which would identify European insect herbivores specific to swallow-worts, and introduce them into the United States. [poster presentation]

CONSERVATION OF FOREST-NESTING BIRDS IN RHODE ISLAND
Richard W. Enser
Rhode Island Natural Heritage Program
235 Promenade Street, Providence, Rhode Island 02908 USA renser@dem.state.ri.us

Partners in Flight (PIF) is a voluntary coalition of scientists and conservationists dedicated to reversing the declines in populations of North American landbirds. Formed in 1990, a principal task of this organization has been to assess the status of species and their conservation needs within 37 Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). Rhode Island is situated within BCR30, which stretches along the Atlantic coast from southern Maine to the Chesapeake Bay. Within each BCR, species are ranked according to seven measures of conservation vulnerability, including four global measures (i.e., they do not change from region to region), and threats to breeding populations, area importance, and population trends, which are specific to each region. Based on these criteria, the Highest Priority forest-nesting birds in BCR30 include Blue-winged Warbler, Prairie Warbler, and Wood Thrush. In addition, forest breeding species identified within the next tier of High Priority include Worm-eating Warbler, Prothonotary Warbler, Baltimore Oriole, Northern Flicker, Louisiana Waterthrush, Scarlet Tanager, Whip-poor-will, Yellow-throated Vireo, Great Crested Flycatcher, Eastern Towhee, Broad-winged Hawk, and Black-and-White Warbler. The threats to these forest nesters include fragmentation of habitat by suburbanization, degradation of habitat by deer browsing, proliferation of invasive plants, and lack of appropriate silviculture, especially on private lands. Additionally, birds associated with woodland/shrubland habitats, especially Pitch Pine/Scrub Oak barrens, are declining due to the loss of wildfire necessary to perpetuate these critical habitats. Recommendations to address the needs of forest-nesting birds in Rhode Island include: 1) continued protection of forests through acquisition/easement, 2) expanded stewardship of public and private forests to promote understory development, and 3) development of controlled burning programs in Pitch Pine communities. In addition, expanded monitoring and research efforts are needed to assess the status of individual species (e.g., Whip-poor-will), determine the actual impacts of deer and invasive species on bird habitats, and document the importance of urban woodlots as migratory stopover areas. [poster presentation]

SETTING CONSERVATION PRIORITIES AND STRATEGIES FOR RHODE ISLAND FORESTS
Kevin Essington
Pawcatuck Borderlands Program, TNC
P.O. Box 250, North Stonington, CT 06359 USA
kessington@tnc.org

Identifying where to conserve Rhode Island’s forests poses an interesting challenge: forests are all around us, yet we can’t conserve it all. And once you have identified where you will work, how do you decide what to do? The Nature Conservancy takes a multi-state, ecoregional approach to setting conservation priorities, and forest conservation is no exception. This presentation will outline the Conservancy’s target selection process in the Lower New England ecoregion: what standards did we employ, what data did we rely on, how did we screen the results? There will be some discussion about the possible future direction of forest target selection. The presentation will also discuss the Conservancy’s site conservation planning process as applied to Rhode Island forest targets: analysis of system viability, threats, strategies, and measures. There will be some discussion of data gaps and information needs that Rhode Island’s forest science community will play a vital role in resolving. [oral presentation]

THE AMERICAN CHESTNUT FOUNDATION: ONGOING RHODE ISLAND AND MASSACHUSETTS CONTRIBUTIONS TO RESTORATION OF A KEY SPECIES DECIMATED BY IMPORTED DISEASE
Yvonne Federowicz, Guy Shepard, and Charlotte Zampini
Massachusetts Chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation
36 Hawthorne Street, North Providence, RI 02904 USA
Yvonne_Federowicz@brown.edu

American Chestnut was one of the most important trees of upland eastern forests until the early 1900s, providing a large, consistent food source for wildlife and humans and a quick-growing, rot-resistant lumber. Beginning in 1904, an imported fungus decimated virtually all four billion adult American Chestnuts within a few decades. The American Chestnut Foundation is working to create a population of American-Chinese hybrids that will be more than 90% pure American, blight-resistant yet retaining the American growth characteristics that enabled this tree to dominate areas of the eastern forests, and will be adapted to local conditions through incorporation of local “mother trees” into the gene pool. Volunteers in Rhode Island and Massachusetts have been involved in this multi-state effort for a number of years, and mother trees located by volunteers in our area are producing hybrid offspring that are being raised in local volunteer-run orchards. Growing chestnuts in orchard settings is a relatively new undertaking, and volunteers are constantly sharing information about growth requirements. Additional ongoing issues include problems with locating and incorporating mother trees that provide a good selection of our local habitat types and possible genetic diversity, as well as utilizing volunteered land for orchards that will provide these habitat types. [poster presentation]

PHRAGMITES AUSTRALIS AND THE MEALY PLUM APHID: DIFFERENTIAL RESISTANCE ON NATIVE AND NON-NATIVE HAPLOTYPES
Paula C. Hawkins, Adam Lambert, Richard A. Casagrande, and Lisa Tewksbury
Department of Plant Sciences, 9 E. Alumni Avenue, Suite 7, University of Rhode Island,
Kingston, RI 02881 USA phawkins@mail.uri.edu

In the past century, Phragmites australis has rapidly increased in both distribution and abundance in North America. This spread has been attributed to anthropogenic changes in wetland habitats as well as the recent introduction of European haplotypes in the eastern United States. The Mealy Plum Aphid, Hyalopterus pruni, a natural herbivore of European haplotypes of Phragmites, has also become established in North America. It was not known if the native and exotic haplotypes experienced differential resistance to H. pruni and what effect the aphids had on the various haplotypes. An experiment was conducted on three different haplotypes (E, M, and S) planted in pots outdoors. Aphid populations were monitored and recorded several times weekly, and the results were analyzed using SPSS. It was found that H. pruni attacked the native haplotypes at significantly greater rates and densities than the non-native haplotype. This differential resistance may contribute to the competitive displacement of native Phragmites with exotic Phragmites. [poster presentation]

THE EFFECT OF WHITE-TAILED DEER ON RHODE ISLAND’S FORESTS
Lori Gibson
RIDEM Division of Fish and Wildlife, Great Swamp Field Headquarters, P.O. Box 218,
West Kingston, RI 02892 USA
lgibson@ netsense.net

The effect of White-tailed Deer on the urban environment is readily apparent. Of particular importance is their effect on the structure and health of the forest. Deer are browsers and consume an average of four to nine pounds of herbaceous plants daily. Over-browsing of seedlings threatens forest regeneration and diversity. Elimination of the vegetative understory reduces habitat for other wildlife species. In the absence of an understory, invasive plants thrive, displacing native and rare plants. Long-term effects on forests compound as deer herds, even at low levels, consume emerging seedlings. The value of the forest for both wildlife species and timber enterprises is impacted as less preferred Red Maples out-compete oaks. More daunting, remaining deer herds continue to consume regeneration efforts unless protected. The majority of Rhode Island’s forest is not owned or managed by the state and may not permit hunting. Land trusts and NGO’s need to develop policies to manage forest resources in various age classes, control invasives, and to allow adequate regulated deer hunting. Proper stewardship needs to be addressed before degradation occurs. [poster presentation]

STATE WILDLIFE GRANT: A VISION FOR COMPREHENSIVE WILDLIFE CONSERVATION IN RHODE ISLAND
Lori Gibson
RIDEM Division of Fish and Wildlife, Great Swamp Field Headquarters, P.O. Box 218,
West Kingston, RI 02892 USA
lgibson@ netsense.net

Declining wildlife populations and the lack of stable funding for non-game species prompted Congress to enact a visionary program-State Wildlife Grants (SWG)-to fund efforts by states and partner organizations that address the species of greatest conservation need. The SWG is designed to assist states by providing federal funds for the development and implementation of programs that benefit wildlife and their habitat, including species that are declining or vulnerable. This funding supplements existing fish and wildlife funding programs. Additional federal funds are available through the Wildlife Conservation and Restoration Program, which requires a Wildlife Conservation Strategy. To be eligible for these federal funds, states must prepare one plan-a Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy (CWCS). The RIDEM Division of Fish and Wildlife will take the lead in developing Rhode Island’s CWCS. By completing a CWCS by September 2005, the Division and its partners will be able to integrate the management of wildlife species, build valuable partnerships, and support efforts to provide more secure, long-term funding. [poster presentation]

INVASIVE VASCULAR PLANTS IN RHODE ISLAND’S FORESTS
Lisa L. Gould
Rhode Island Natural History Survey
101 CIK, 1 Greenhouse Road, URI, Kingston, RI 02881 USA
lgould@rinhs.org

Rhode Island has a long history of anthropogenic vascular plant introductions, and approximately 25% of the state’s current flora is considered to be of non-native origin. Some naturalized species have become invasive in woodland communities and appear to be having a significant impact on biodiversity and community structure. Acer platanoides (Norway Maple), Ailanthus altissima (Tree of Heaven), Berberis thunbergii (Japanese Barberry), Celastrus orbiculatus (Asiatic Bittersweet), Euonymus alatus (Burning Bush), Frangula alnus (Glossy Buckthorn), Ligustrum spp. (Privet), Lonicera morrowii and Lonicera x bella (Morrow and Bella Honeysuckles), Rhamnus cathartica (Common Buckthorn), and Rosa multiflora (Multiflora Rose) are among the common forest invaders. Several other non-native species that are invasive in forests in other parts of the region are also beginning to spread in Rhode Island, including Alliaria petiolata (Garlic Mustard) and Phellodendron (Cork-tree). More research is needed to document and understand the ecological impact of these invasions. [oral presentation]

USDA NATURAL RESOURCES CONSERVATION SERVICE (NRCS) WORKS WITH LANDOWNERS TO CONSERVE AND MANAGE RHODE ISLAND’S FORESTS
Kelly Gravuer, Andrew Lipsky, Michael Merrill, and Eric Boettger
USDA-NRCS, 60 Quaker Lane, Suite 46, Warwick, RI 02886 USA
kelly.gravuer@ri.usda.gov, andrew.lipsky@ri.usda.gov, michael.merrill@ri.usda.gov, eric.boettger@ri.usda.gov

NRCS provides technical and financial assistance to private forest and farm landowners and land trusts to help conserve and improve natural resources. Through the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), NRCS can provide up to 75% of the costs of implementing certain types of wildlife habitat improvement projects and forest management practices outlined in a landowner’s Forest Stewardship Plan. Due to declines of early successional habitats and associated wildlife, NRCS is funding the restoration of these habitats by offsetting the costs of clearing and habitat management. NRCS also provides assistance to replant riparian corridors with forested buffers. In forestry operations, soil and water quality can be increased by improving structures such as access roads and stream crossings that are eroding, or by creating in-stream barriers to aquatic wildlife. Also, NRCS supports improvement of forest stand health by offsetting costs of selective removal of diseased trees and control of invasive species. In 2004, WHIP and EQIP programs directly impacted 275 acres of upland and riparian habitat, providing indirect improvement to over 1,000 additional acres. Through partnership with forest landowners, NRCS is dedicated to providing technical and financial resources to improve the management of forest lands. [poster presentation]

POTENTIAL CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS IN THE FORESTS OF THE EASTERN UNITED STATES

Louis Iverson, Anantha Prasad, and Steven Matthews
U. S. Department of Agriculture, Northeastern Forest Research Station, 359 Main Road, Delaware, OH 43015 USA liverson@fs.fed.us

Evidence continues to mount that climate change is occurring and that humans are partly responsible for these changes via fossil fuel combustion and deforestation. The global warming trend since 1979 is remarkable. Many stories are accumulating on biological changes that are currently occurring during this same period, and these changes will likely accelerate over this century. Our analysis of 135 tree species in the eastern United States, using two scenarios of climate change and over 30 climate, soil, and landscape predictors, shows the potential for substantial shifts in species range habitats. Our statistical model, DISTRIB, uses three classification and regression tree processes, two of which are new (bagging and random forests), for best model generation, prediction, and understanding. Results of the 135 species runs show northward migration of habitat, calculated via a statistic of ‘optimum latitude’ for a large proportion of the species. Within the habitat changes will be a limited migration over the next 100 years, also being evaluated using the model SHIFT. We also have studied 150 bird species and their potential habitat changes as a result of climate and tree species changes. According to this analysis, as many as half of the birds will lose at least 25% of their habitat in the eastern United States, but this assumes the vegetation will have changed (more than 100 years hence). [keynote presentation]

REDUCED FOREST COVER AND CHANGES IN BREEDING BIRD SPECIES COMPOSITION IN RHODE ISLAND
Suzanne Lussier1, Rick Enser2, Sara daSilva2, and Mike Charpentier4
1USEPA, Office of Research and Development, National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, Atlantic Ecology Division, 27 Tarzwell Dr., Narragansett, RI 02882 USA lussier.suzanne@epa.gov
2 R.I. Department of Environmental Management, Natural Heritage Program,
235 Promenade Street, Providence, RI 02908 USA renser@dem.state.ri.us
3 Nelson, Pope & Voorhis, LLC, 572 Walt Whitman Road, Melville, NY USA 11747 sdasilva@nelsonpope.com
4 CSC, 27 Tarzwell Dr., Narragansett, RI 02882 USA charpentier.mike@epa.gov

This study was conducted to assess the relationship of land use/cover, riparian vegetation, and avian populations. Our objective was to compare the vegetation structure in riparian corridors with the composition of breeding bird populations in eight Rhode Island subwatersheds along a range (4-59%) of residential land use. We used field transects to measure the extent of tree, sapling, and ground cover, and a Geographic Information System to document larger-scale land cover attributes. Bird surveys were conducted in the riparian zone at each site. The observed bird species were separated into guilds based on tolerance to human disturbance, habitat, foraging type, and diet preference. Species richness, tolerance, and habitat preference were correlated with riparian vegetation, revealing patterns of breeding bird distribution. Both forest cover and residential land use had significant correlations with species composition, but not with species richness. The number of intolerant (forest-dependent) species declined significantly at less than 30% forest cover and greater than 17% development, while tolerant species increased at these thresholds. Subwatersheds with more contiguous forest cover and less fragmentation from development supported more species of forest-dependent breeding birds. This study showed how sensitive the distributions of breeding birds are to habitat structure and development. [poster presentation]

MIGRATORY BEHAVIOR OF RADIO-TAGGED ADULT SPOTTED SALAMANDERS ON A GOLF COURSE
Christin McDonough-Haughey and Peter W. C. Paton
Department of Natural Resources Science, 1 Greenhouse Road,
University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI 02881 USA
christin@mail.uri.edu, ppaton@uri.edu

Biologists are interested in the effects of habitat fragmentation on pond-breeding amphibians. Most species spend the majority of their annual cycle in forested uplands and wetlands away from breeding ponds. Past research found that adult Spotted Salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum) migrate far (mean = 168 m) from breeding ponds and that open habitats may represent dispersal barriers, although dispersal distances in fragmented landscapes are unknown. We monitored the migration ecology of 80 radio-tagged adult Spotted Salamanders at Lake of Isles Golf Course, CT, throughout 2004. Animals were tracked as they emigrated from three ponds surrounded by fairways and one pond surrounded by contiguous forest. Contrary to past research, adult salamanders often dispersed across fairways, typically during rainy nights. Mean migration distances we documented were over twice as far as published estimates and were greater for salamanders emigrating across fairways (mean = 150 m, range 13 to 417 m) than for animals at the contiguous forested plot (mean = 100 m, range 20 to 180 m). Females (mean = 175 m, range 21 to 417 m) migrated farther than males (mean = 110 m, range 13 to 355 m). Golf courses may represent viable habitat for Spotted Salamanders if designed and managed correctly. [poster presentation]

PLANTS AS INDICATORS OF HYDROPERIOD IN SEASONAL WOODLAND PONDS OF THE PAWCATUCK RIVER WATERSHED, RHODE ISLAND
Jon Mitchell and Frank Golet
Department of Natural Resources Science, Coastal Institute, 1 Greenhouse Road,
University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI 02881 USA jmit1344@postoffice.uri.edu

Hydroperiod, or duration of flooding, is a significant factor determining habitat suitability of a seasonal pond for pond-breeding amphibians, yet there is no easy way to assess hydroperiod without long-term hydrologic monitoring. We studied 65 seasonal ponds from 2001 through 2003 to identify vegetative indicators of hydroperiod and to develop a hydroperiod classification for seasonal ponds. Study sites were visited biweekly to monitor surface water levels and identify the date of drying. In the late summer of each year, vegetation was sampled along three transects in each pond and, in the late winter and early spring, Wood Frog (Rana sylvatica) and Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma maculatum) egg masses were counted. Regression analysis and multiple comparison tests, which highlighted the relationship between egg-mass counts and hydroperiod, led to the identification of four distinct hydroperiod classes. Based on the distribution of plants among hydroperiods, we associated each of 35 plants with one of the four pond hydroperiod classes; testing showed that these plants estimated pond hydroperiod class with 72% accuracy. These findings suggest that the use of plants as accurate and efficient indicators of hydroperiod could contribute to conservation of seasonal ponds and their fauna. [poster presentation]

INVENTORY AND PRIORITIZATION OF POTENTIAL RIPARIAN BUFFER RESTORATION SITES IN THE GREENWICH BAY AND BUCKEYE BROOK WATERSHEDS, RHODE ISLAND
Michael Mulé1, Frank Golet1, and Fred Presley2
1Department of Natural Resources Science, 1 Greenhouse Road,
University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI 02881 USA
2Office of Sustainable Watersheds, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, Providence, RI 02908 USA; mdoorsm@aol.com

Periodic fish kills have plagued Greenwich Bay for some time and have been attributed to hypoxic or anoxic water conditions stemming from increased nutrient inputs. The low dissolved oxygen levels in the Bay have been linked to a variety of factors, both natural and anthropogenic. Wastewater treatment facilities, septic systems, storm water runoff, and groundwater flow from polluted areas all are believed to contribute to the problem. These factors, along with a combination of natural environmental conditions, lead to eutrophication of Bay waters and a stressed environment for marine life. Vegetated riparian zones help to intercept or process nutrients and sediment flowing toward water bodies and reduce water quality degradation. This project was designed to inventory and prioritize riparian buffer zones for restoration purposes. Prioritization was based on riparian vegetation width, adjacent land use intensity, and length of riparian segments. Results showed that, of the 158 miles of riparian habitat, the tidal coastline had the most potential for restoration. Coastal riparian areas typically had the least vegetation, the longest degraded segments, and the most intensive land use. Sixty percent of high-priority sites occurred along the coast. The remaining 40% was divided evenly among the streams and ponds. [poster presentation]

BENTHIC GEOLOGIC HABITATS OF GREENWICH BAY, RHODE ISLAND
Bryan A. Oakley and Jon C. Boothroyd
Department of Geosciences, Woodward Hall, University of Rhode Island,
Kingston, Rhode Island, 02881 USA
bryan_oakley@hotmail.com, jon_boothroyd@uri.edu

Greenwich Bay (GBay), Rhode Island, located in northwest Narragansett Bay, is a shallow embayment vital to the overall ecosystem health of Narragansett Bay. Side scan sonar, a method of imaging the seafloor using acoustic energy (sound), was used by the University of Rhode Island Geosciences and the RI Geological Survey to map Holocene sediment cover and Late Wisconsinan glacial outcrop in GBay.
An array of benthic geologic habitats was identified and their extent mapped. There is a general trend of decreasing grain size from east to west in the Bay, ranging from sand (and some gravel) along the shallow shelf areas in the eastern Bay to fine-grained silt and silty sand in the western depositional basin. The eastern bayfloor sand sheet probably represents thin Holocene age sand over glacial deposits comprised of stratified sand and gravel. The relatively shallow western basin appears to be the depositional site for fine-grained, wave-suspended material of Holocene age in the Bay.
Human activities in Greenwich Bay have a considerable impact on benthic habitats including: significant bottom disturbances from quahog harvesting, bottom disturbance by mooring chains, bayfloor debris fields from marina construction/destruction, and the remnants of shoreline structures (both subtidal and intertidal) adjacent to most of the developed shoreline.
This work was undertaken to assist the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) with the creation of a Special Area Management Plan for Greenwich Bay and adjacent watershed.

VERTEBRATE USE OF FORESTS IN RHODE ISLAND
Peter W. C. Paton
Department of Natural Resources Science,
1 Greenhouse Road, University of Rhode Island,
Kingston RI 02881 USA
ppaton@uri.edu

Conservation biologists are increasingly concerned with the effects of forest fragmentation on wildlife populations. In Rhode Island, there are approximately 370 species of terrestrial vertebrates that occur regularly in the state, of which ~60% utilize forests during some stage of their annual cycle. Most amphibians (90% of 19 species), reptiles (80% of 21 species), and mammals (94% of 49 species) occur in forested habitats, while 51% of avian species that have been documented in Rhode Island utilize forests. Many species of amphibians spend most of their annual cycle in forests away from breeding ponds, with adults migrating 400 m or farther from breeding ponds. Several species of reptiles, particularly turtles, also disperse relatively far across forested landscapes throughout the year. Thus, quite a few species of amphibians and reptiles in Rhode Island are vulnerable to increased fragmentation of the region’s forests. Less is known about the impact of forest fragmentation on mammals, particularly on small mammals and bats. Finally, many species of birds that are forest specialists are declining, particularly Neotropical migrants, although grassland and scrub-shrub specialists are also declining. Thus, if the goal is maintaining viable populations of native wildlife in the region, managing forests is a complex task. [oral presentation]

ASSESSING FOREST FRAGMENTATION AND ECOSYSTEMS RESPONSES WITH RESPECT TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF BROAD AREA MONITORING STRATEGIES
Rachel Riemann
Northeastern Research Station, USDA Forest Service
425 Jordan Road, Troy, NY 12180 USA rriemann@fs.fed.us

The urbanization and fragmentation of forestland can impact wildlife sustainability and diversity, forest composition and health, forest management and recreation opportunities, and water quality. Because of these effects, the USDA Forest Service is interested in monitoring the distribution and fragmentation characteristics of the forest over time, just as we monitor the status and changes in forest area, volume, health, composition, and structure. There are many aspects to fragmentation and urbanization, and no single measure fully captures either its character or its impact. Thus what is monitored, and how, should be relevant to both the ecosystem responses observed and the management and planning uses to which the information may be put. A cooperative study between the USFS and the USGS National Water Quality Assessment program (NAWQA) was initiated to examine the biological, chemical, and physical stream ecosystem responses to landscape characteristics along an urban-rural gradient of thirty-two 10-60-square-mile watersheds located in the Delaware River Basin. Such an investigation requires a good understanding of the behavior and applicability of the landscape metrics desired, and of the scale, accuracy, and appropriateness of the source of the landscape data used. In this study measures of landscape structure (composition and pattern) were calculated from rasterized photo (visual) interpretations of land use and land cover from 1:40,000 digital orthophotography for each basin. This information was used both to evaluate stream ecosystem responses, and to compare measures calculated from the broadly available NLCD datasets for accuracy and utility. [oral presentation}

RHODE ISLAND'S FORESTS: FOREST HEALTH ISSUES 2005
Catherine Sparks
RIDEM Division of Forest Environment
1037 Hartford Pike, North Scituate, RI 02857 USA csparks@dem.state.ri.us

Rhode Island's forests have endured the impacts of many noteworthy stressors in the past. Currently, the Eastern Hemlock resource is at risk from the non-native insect, Adelges tsugae (Hemlock Woolly Adelgid). Effective controls for this pest in the forest do not yet exist and all mature stands of Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) 10 acres and larger are infested. While Eastern Hemlock makes up only one-half of one percent of the forest type in Rhode Island, the dense evergreen canopy associated with mature hemlock forest creates a unique environment that is critical habitat for many plant and wildlife species. Future risks to Rhode Island's forests revolve around known and unknown non-native insects, plants, and pathogens. Forest health survey and monitoring efforts in 2005 will be focused on Phytophthora ramorum blight (Sudden Oak Death), Agrilus planipennis (Emerald Ash Borer), Anoplophora glabripennis (Asian Longhorned Beetle) and Operophtera brumata (Winter Moth). These pests threaten a range of tree species and early detection is considered critical to the success of any eradication programs or other management strategies. The RIDEM Division of Forest Environment Forest Health Protection and Monitoring Programs are funded in part by the USDA Forest Service. [oral presentation]

STRATEGIES FOR PROTECTING A COLONY OF STATE-ENDANGERED DIAMONDBACK TERRAPINS IN RHODE ISLAND
Charlotte B. Sornborger
Barrington Land Conservation Trust, 1 Wildacre Lane, Barrington, RI 02806 USA
c_sornborger@hotmail.com

Discovery of the last substantial population of Diamondback Terrapins in Rhode Island has led to actions taken by the Barrington Land Conservation Trust to protect the terrapins’ foraging, basking, and nesting habitats. Actions include: 1) a fifteen-year population study by local volunteers, with a student intern program, amplified by investigations of several Master’s and Ph.D. candidates; 2) participation in the development of the town Comprehensive Plan to establish the nesting area as a wildlife refuge; 3) securing a town ordinance to restrict the speed of motorboats in certain areas of the estuary and the placement of buoys; 4) assignment of the Land Trust as managers of the refuge by the Town Council; 5) development of a management plan with the principal goal being protection of Diamondback nesting habitat; 6) ongoing implementation of the tenets of the management plan by volunteers, scouts, and the town Department of Public Works; 7) conducting and supporting nature walks and educational programs on site for adults and youth (future guardians); 8) supporting the testing of sediment samples in the estuary for various toxins; and 9) taking the preliminary steps, appraisals, and meetings with landowners to secure conservation easements on adjacent privately-held land. [poster presentation]

REESTABLISHMENT OF NATIVE PLANTS IN ROGER WILLIAMS PARK ZOO WETLAND AFTER BIOLOGICAL CONTROL OF PURPLE LOOSESTRIFE, LYTHRUM SALICARIA.
Lisa A. Tewksbury, Richard A. Casagrande, and Charles E. Carberry
Department of Plant Sciences, 9 E. Alumni Avenue, Suite 7, University of Rhode Island,
Kingston, RI 02881 USA lisat@uri.edu

Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) is an introduced invasive wetland plant that out- competes native wetland plants. A biological control program using leaf-feeding beetles, Galerucella spp., was initiated against Purple Loosestrife in the Roger Williams Park Zoo wetland in 1996. In 1998 the wetland experienced 100 percent defoliation. From 1996 to 2004 we documented the decline of the Purple Loosestrife population and the reestablishment of native plants in the wetland. The Purple Loosestrife stands have experienced a decline in stem height, the area of the wetland covered, and the amount of flower and seed production. In 2004 the wetland has a number of native plants in abundance that were not common in 1996: Sensitive Fern, Arrowwood, Elderberry, Pussy Willow, Arrow Arum, Joe-Pye-Weed, and Swamp Azalea. [poster presentation]

FOREST CONSERVATION THROUGH STEWARDSHIP
Marc J. Tremblay
Land Management Services
303 Courthouse Lane, Pascoag, RI 02859 USA mstremb@aol.com

The private forest landowners in Rhode Island own about 75% of the forested land. About 290,000 of these acres are in ownerships larger than ten (10) acres. Forest stewardship, with forest management activities that improve the value of the timber and wildlife habitats, along with increasing the recreational amenities of the property, can be a valuable tool to encourage these landowners to retain ownership of the forest. The presentation will focus on the role of forest stewardship planning as a way to offset property taxes, improve habitat conditions, control invasive plants, and generally increase the owner’s level of interest in forest conservation. [oral presentation]

ECOLOGICAL INVESTIGATIONS OF NATURAL ENEMIES FOR AN INTERSTATE BIOLOGICAL CONTROL PROGRAM AGAINST SPARTINA GRASSES
David Viola, Lisa Tewksbury, and Richard A. Casagrande
Department of Plant Sciences, 9 E. Alumni Avenue, Suite 7, University of Rhode Island,
Kingston, RI 02881 USA dviola@myrealbox.com

Spartina alterniflora is a dominant member of salt marsh communities in its native East Coast range as well as an introduced invasive species in West Coast intertidal regions. In 2000, a biological control agent, Prokelisia marginata (Homoptera: Delphacidae), was released in Willapa Bay, Washington where S. alterniflora is rapidly spreading. Despite establishment of this agent, the invasive population has not been brought under control. Although the natural enemies of S. alterniflora have been previously catalogued, relatively little is to be found regarding their ecology. The purpose of this study was to provide ecological investigations of insect herbivores of S. alterniflora in Rhode Island in support of a larger effort to develop biological control agents. An intensive survey of insect species on S. alterniflora in Rhode Island was conducted in order to describe the composition of the insect herbivore community. Vacuum samples taken at both high and low marsh facilitated the characterization of species assemblages. Our results suggest that there is little variation in insect herbivore species richness among Rhode Island salt marshes. Damage due to Chaetopsis spp. (Diptera: Otitidae) is easily observed in the field, but the frequency of damaged stems varied greatly between sites. Additional research is needed to determine the factors responsible for this variation. [poster presentation]

REGENERATION OF THE SOUTHERN NEW ENGLAND FOREST LANDSCAPE
Jeffrey S. Ward, Chief Scientist
Department of Forestry & Horticulture
The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station
PO Box 1106, 123 Huntington Street, New Haven, CT 06504 USA jeffrey.ward@po.state.ct.us

From Lookout Point, the forests covering our hillsides and valleys seem as though they have always been there. A different story emerges, however, when walking along a trail and evidence of human impact on the land from earlier generations is discovered. Overgrown stonewalls outline old pastures and grain fields. Occasionally, the outline of a charcoal mound or a sunken cellar of a farmhouse can be found. The landscape has undergone dramatic changes since European settlement including large-scale land clearing for agriculture, wildfire, hurricanes, and repeated harvesting. The dynamic and resilient nature of the southern New England forest over the past 400 years will be chronicled with a special emphasis on disturbances and changes in land use patterns. [oral presentation]