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Fagus grandifolia (American Beech) is uncommon along the coast of southern New England, but occasionally forms unusual monodominant stands with higher beech abundance than is typical for inland areas. This study documents the distribution of beech on Cape Cod and nearby coastal islands, and evaluates environmental and historical factors that are likely to influence its distribution. Tree-ring data from six beech forests in the study region were used to determine age structure and to assess the importance of disturbance history for beech forest development.
Beech is irregularly distributed across the coastal region. It is most common and abundant on moraines and in areas that are close to water bodies, presumably as a result of reduced drought stress and increased protection from wildfire. The largest monodominant beech forest (approximately 1000 ha) known from the eastern US occurs on Naushon Island, but few stands elsewhere in the region exceed 5 ha. In the six intensively studied forests, the relative importance of beech has increased in recent decades. Decreased establishment of oaks and other associated species in the 20th century has presumably resulted from regional declines in forest harvesting and fire. Increased beech dominance in the 20th century corresponds with episodic beech establishment and growth release after several hurricanes in the 1920s–1950s. Thus, unlike the small-scale gap dynamics characteristic of beech in the extensive northern hardwood forests of northern New England and New York, large-scale wind disturbances apparently contribute to local beech dominance in coastal New England where beech is otherwise uncommon.
Necropsies of Gavia immer (Common Loon) recovered lead and non-lead foreign objects from gastrointestinal tracts. Carcasses collected between 1987 and 2000 reveal that a great deal of loon mortality on lakes in New England is attributable to ingestion of lead objects. In this study, 522 carcasses were examined to inspect the types, sizes, and masses of 222 objects responsible for lead toxicosis. Most ingested lead objects were less than 2.5 cm long and weighed less than 25 g. Information on objects ingested by loons may help in development of non-toxic alternatives.
Salt marsh ecosystems on Cape Cod, MA have exhibited substantial changes within the last 60 years. Analyses of aerial photographs dating back to 1947 reveals that extensive marsh area loss and alterations in tidal creek structure have occurred where vegetation along the edges of tidal creeks and mosquito ditches in the low marsh has declined or disappeared. Where edge vegetation has not been lost, and where major changes in tidal inlet size have not resulted in flows that cause erosion and bank slumping, marsh area and creek structure has remained very stable. The extent of high-marsh vegetation in virtually all systems has diminished greatly, particularly since the 1980s, with the seaward edge of this zone rapidly retreating in a landward direction. In several systems, this has resulted in high marsh being replaced by barren mudflat. In others, low-marsh advancement has been able to keep pace with high-marsh retreat. These processes are discussed within the context of various biotic and abiotic factors that are the likely agents of change.
Salt marshes provide important foraging habitats for wading birds (Ardeidae), and it has been suggested that the lack of suitable marsh habitats can limit the size of wading bird populations. It is therefore important to be able to accurately assess wading bird use of salt marshes over multiple spatial and temporal scales. The goal of this study was to determine how wading bird utilization of Narragansett Bay, RI salt marshes is affected by changing tide levels. Bird surveys were conducted across the tidal range at three different marshes. Wading birds foraged over much of the tidal cycle, but reverted to increased loafing during mid-tides when shallow foraging habitats were limited. Birds foraged in increasingly deeper water at higher tide stages rather than seeking out consistently shallow water over the tidal period. At Round Marsh, the primary study site, bird abundances were significantly related to tidal stages, but different patterns were observed at two additional sites. Wading bird abundance appears to depend on the availability of habitats that provide shallow foraging areas across tidal stages. Results from this study can be used to improve wading bird monitoring protocols and field studies on wading birds in salt marshes by ensuring that tidal stage is accounted for.
West Virginia's crayfishes have received moderate attention since publication of Jezerinac et al.'s (1995) monograph of the state fauna. Survey efforts were initiated over the summers of 2006 and 2007 to gather voucher material for the Indiana Biological Survey's Crustacean Collection. These collections have provided new information regarding the distribution, natural history, life history, taxonomy, and conservation status of Cambarus (Cambarus) carinirostris, C. (C.) bartonii cavatus, C. (C.) sciotensis, C. (Hiaticambarus) chasmodactylus, C. (H.) elkensis, C. (H.) longulus, C. (Jugicambarus) dubius, C. (Puncticambarus) robustus, Orconectes (Procericambarus) cristavarius, and O. (P.) rusticus. Orconectes (Faxonius) limosus has apparently been extirpated from West Virginia and should be removed from the state's list of extant crayfishes.
Maine and Massachusetts paid bounties on seals during the 19th and 20th centuries. To determine the number of seals killed for bounty, we examined historical records of bounty claims, and used geographic information systems and multiple linear regression to find predictors of places where large numbers of bounties were paid. We found records of 24,831 bounties paid in Maine (1891–1945) and 15,690 in Massachusetts (1888–1962). Considering possible fraud, missing data, and seals struck and lost, this suggests that 72,284 to 135,498 seals were killed in the bounty hunt, probably enough to account for regional declines in seal populations. Larger numbers of bounties were paid where there were more seals and a higher human population.
We determined how environmental variability affected distributions of seasonally recruiting fishes (i.e., transient species) in coastal lagoons of Maryland from May–October during 1996, 1997, and 1999. A total of 241 monthly sampling events were conducted in the coastal lagoons at 40 sampling stations. Fluctuations in salinity resulting from variation in stream discharge were negatively correlated with intra-annual stability of fish assemblages. Transient, or non-resident species (e.g., recruiting species), were more frequent in habitats where salinity was less variable. When stream discharge lessened during dry years, transient species were more common throughout the coastal lagoons. Thus, environmental variability influenced distributions of young-of-year fishes in coastal estuaries.
We examined how buffering capacity affected natural earthworm communities by comparing well-buffered soils in Madison County in central New York and poorly buffered soils in the western Adirondacks. We also investigated how liming and interspecific competition influenced growth and survival of 2 exotic taxa (Eisenia foetida and Amynthas agrestis) in Adirondack and central New York soils using laboratory microcosms. Earthworms were more abundant and diverse in central New York soils than in western Adirondack soils. Interspecific competition had no effect on growth or survival of either species in microcosms. Survival of A. agrestis was low in Adirondack soils without lime, but liming increased survival to that of central New York soils. Growth rates of E. foetida were lowest in Adirondack soils without lime, but highest in Adirondack soils with lime. Our results suggest that high soil acidity may be preventing exotic earthworms from successfully invading the western Adirondacks.
Oligostomis ocelligera (a phryganeid caddisfly) is reported for the first time from a degraded lotic system—a first-order stream in north-central Pennsylvania that was severely impacted by acid mine drainage. Although uncommonly collected and poorly known, O. ocelligera maintained a substantial population in the mine discharge, free of competition from Plecoptera, Ephemeroptera, and other species of Trichoptera. It thrived under conditions of very low pH (2.58–3.13), high concentrations of sulfate (542 mg/L) and heavy metals (Fe 12 mg/L, Mn 14 mg/L, Al 16 mg/L), and a nearly uniform springbrook-like temperature regime. More than 350 larvae were collected from deposits of leaves and woody detritus in a pool 0.32 km downstream from the mine entrance over a two-year period. Measurement of head-capsule widths yielded a multimodal distribution with five peaks, corresponding to five instars, in conformity with Dyar's Law. Eighty-three egg masses were observed along the stream channel from 3 June to 12 November at a mean distance of 6.1 cm above the water surface in moist, protected locations such as under moss mats or in crevices of logs. Eggs began hatching by mid-summer, first-instar larvae were present in samples from August–October, all five instars were represented in October, instars II–V were still present in December, but only instars IV and V were represented in samples collected from March to July. The extended periods of oviposition and larval recruitment, together with a remarkably protracted flight period of six months (29 April–30 October), led to the conclusion that the population of O. ocelligera at the mine site exhibited an asynchronous univoltine life cycle. Measurement of the width of the anterior border of the frontoclypeal apotome confirmed Wiggins' proposal that this metric is useful for distinguishing final instar larvae of O. ocelligera from its only Nearctic congener, O. pardalis. Occupied pupal cases were found embedded in sodden logs from 8 April to 10 June. Pupae had mandibles reduced to membranous lobes. A silken mesh closing the anterior end case of the pupal case is reported for the first time in O. ocelligera, representing the third evolutionary reversal for this behavioral character in the phylogeny of phryganeid genera proposed by Wiggins. Adults exhibited only diurnal flight, and were absent from light traps deployed on five nights. Females displayed more cryptic behavior, and their wing pattern was distinctly duller in color than males.
Sixteen selections of Apocynum cannabinum (Indian Hemp) and nine of Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed) from midwestern USA were exposed to 40 or 80 ppb ozone under controlled conditions within greenhouse continuously stirred tank reactor (CSTR) chambers to evaluate their relative ozone sensitivity. The incidence and severity of ozone-induced symptoms on both species were directly related to ozone concentration and duration of exposure. The most common foliar symptom was classic, dark, adaxial stipple, similar to symptoms ascribed to ambient ozone in the field. Indian Hemp was more sensitive to ozone than Common Milkweed. Both species exhibited considerable intraspecific variation in ozone sensitivity. Variability in the data was too great to assign definitive ozone-sensitivity ratings within geographic regions from which seed was selected. However, two locations were identified as possible collection sites for ozone-sensitive selections of both species: Wabaunsee County, KS and Plattsmouth, NE for Indian Hemp; and Cloud County, KS and Swan Creek Lake Wildlife Area, NE for Common Milkweed. Plants derived from seed from these locations may serve as ozone-sensitive bioindicators.