Archive for June 2009

New Rare Plant Finds for Franklin County

June 30, 2009

A new large occurrence of rhodora, Rhododendron canadense, was found in southern Franklin County this Spring and a new occurrence of fragrant wood-fern, Dryopteris fragrans, was found on a mountainside in the northern part of the county. Both occurrences were found by Douglas Egeland of Bloomingdale, NY and reported to the New York Natural Heritage Program. Congratulations Douglas!


Update on the Biodiversity Research Institute Program & Biennial Report, 2007-2008

June 26, 2009

A copy of the recently completed Biennial Report is now available as a pdf on the BRI website: As required, the report is electronic and cannot be distributed as a printed copy.

The report highlights the activities of the past two years and provides a glimpse of what we plan to accomplish in the next few years.

Over the last several months the Executive Committee and BRI staff tried to establish BRI in a new long-term relationship. Currently we are negotiating with the SUNY Research Foundation. The contract with The Nature Conservancy expired and TNC is not able to continue. Over the last 18 months, we have tried working with several groups in several different scenarios, but without success. As a result, the BRI Program Office will close on 30 June 2009 unless an extension or an arrangement can be worked out. If there is a break, I remain optimistic that it will be a short one and that staff will be able to return in the very near future. We will proceed with BRI projects, like the October Biology and Conservation Lecture Series and the Northeast Natural History Conference in April 2010, so please plan on participating!

Currently, staff is supported by the Natural Heritage Trust. At present, our relationship with NHT will end on 30 June and the BRI staff will no longer be employed. The relationship with NHT was always meant to be a stopgap, but the effort to move the Program Office and other activities has stalled. You may be familiar with the state’s Attachment A process and that is the first obstacle. (If you are not familiar with them, attachment As basically seek permission to spend money, if approved, then you can submit the paperwork to spend.) We are trying to make this happen, but Attachment As have a checkered history, are difficult to track and often are rejected. Then we need to get permission for a contract. Assemblyman Englebright is working with the rest of the Executive Committee to expedite these processes.

I hope that you will agree that BRI has demonstrated itself to be a valuable and productive organization that has provided resources to measure and monitor biodiversity and has served as an information source on biodiversity. We plan that it will continue to do so in the future. Thank you all for your past and continuing efforts and I will keep you posted of any developments. We truly appreciate your support.

Robert A. Daniels, Ph.D.
Assistant Director, Research and Collections
Acting Director, Biodiversity Research Institute
Curator of Ichthyology
New York State Museum
CEC 3140
Albany, NY 12230
Office telephone: 518-473-8121
Laboratory telephone: 518-283-9005
Fax: 518-486-2034

Reviving the American Chestnut May Help Climate Change: Purdue Study

June 19, 2009

See the progress Purdue University is having on reviving the American chestnut. Click here.

A Combination of Woolly Adelgid and White Tailed Deer Increases Invasives

June 19, 2009

A study by the University of California has some interesting implications for hemlock forests in New York. See the study at the University of California.

Invasive Plants in the Northeast of Asia and America: Trading Problems,

June 12, 2009

Dates: 10-12 August 2009, at the University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT

Symposium sponsored by the New England Invasive Plant Center

For more information, the symposium agenda & schedule, and to register see:

This symposium will have open sessions with invited speakers and panel discussions, plus contributed presentations and posters. One objective of the symposium is to develop potential international research collaborations of mutual interest on the broad problem of biological invasions.

The invited participants will include scientists with interests in both pure and applied research related to invasive species biology from the U.S., Japan, South Korea, China and far eastern Russia. We have also invited selected scientists and policy makers from the U.S. and Asian government agencies.

Large twayblade, Liparis lilifolia, in Canada and New York

June 10, 2009

Holly Bickerton, a Canadian biologist, is preparing the Canadian COSEWIC (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada) status report update for large twayblade, Liparis liliifolia (S2 for ON, S1 for QUE), also a state endangered orchid in New York.

She reports that since the last status report in 1998, eight new occurrences have been discovered in Canada (for a new total of 19 extant occurrences, a substantial increase), with a significant range movement to the north and east. Large new populations have recently been documented near Kingston, ON, and north of Montreal. Previously, the species Canadian range was believed to be near Toronto. Interestingly, the Kingston occurrence is from a red maple swamp growing on sphagnum hummocks, which is a new habitat type for Canadian populations, but is not uncommon in NY. This opens up a lot of potentially suitable habitat in such swamps, across eastern Ontario and western Quebec.

Before the early 1990s the plant was known from the Hudson Valley as far north as Albany County. Then in 1992 and 1994 it was discovered in central New York near Syracuse and along Lake Ontario. Both of these occurrences were on hummocks in red maple hardwood swamps, just a few plants each. Since then we have not found any new occurrences to the north. Our largest occurrence is in a red maple hardwood swamp down in Ulster County. We should be searching more red maple swamps along the Great Lakes and into the Adirondacks to see if populations are expanding north as they are in Canada.


June 9, 2009

Emerald Ash Borer Traps Are Being Deployed Throughout the State

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), along with other federal and state agencies, is setting baited traps in ash trees across upstate New York in an effort to search for possible infestations of the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), a tree-killing beetle. The public will soon be seeing the purple prism traps deployed in treelines throughout New York, with a concentration in areas adjacent to neighboring states and Canadian provinces that have already detected this potentially devastating invasive species.

It has been documented that a main route that enables this insect, as well as other invasive species, to spread is from moving firewood from one place to another. That is why in 2008, New York adopted regulations that ban untreated firewood from entering the state and restricts intrastate movement of untreated firewood to no more than a 50-mile radius from its source ( ).

New York has more than 900 million ash trees, representing about 7 percent of all trees in the state, and all are at risk should this invasive, exotic pest become established. Many communities are at particular risk because ash was widely planted as a street tree after Dutch elm disease killed many urban trees.

“The EAB is a significant threat to New York State’s ash trees,” said State Forester Robert K. Davies. “While the EAB has not yet been positively documented within New York State, it is getting closer each day, so we must remain vigilant in monitoring our resources so that if detected, an appropriate response can be employed to protect our trees.”

DEC’s approach to monitoring for the insect is two-fold. First, traps to attract and catch the EAB are being hung in ash trees within a 100-mile radius from previously documented EAB locations in Ontario and Quebec, Canada, and central Pennsylvania. During June, traps will be placed in Western New York areas including Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany, Erie, Wyoming, Niagara, Orleans, Genesee, Livingston, and Monroe counties and in Jefferson, St. Lawrence, Franklin, and Clinton counties along our northern border. Second, DEC will be monitoring “high-risk sites” compiled by state forest health experts. These areas will include campgrounds, major highway corridors, wood industries, and locations with large ash populations. Altogether, nearly 6,000 traps will be deployed across the state.

The bright purple, prism-shaped EAB traps are made of sticky-coated corrugated plastic and contain scented lures. After 45 days, the traps will be inspected and samples collected. After 90 days, the traps will be collected and removed from the tree. If visitors encounter an EAB trap hanging in an ash tree while at a park or state forest, please help the survey effort by leaving it in place.

DEC is participating in the survey with the state Department of Agriculture and Markets, the state Office of Parks, and Recreation and Historic Preservation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and other volunteer organizations such as The Nature Conservancy and land trusts.

The EAB (photo: ) is a small but destructive beetle that infests and kills North American ash tree species, including green, white, black and blue ash. Damage is caused by the larvae, which feed in tunnels called galleries in the phloem just below the bark. The serpentine galleries disrupt water and nutrient transport, causing branches, and eventually the entire tree, to die. Since its discovery in southeastern Michigan in 2002, the EAB is responsible for the destruction of over 70 million ash trees in the U.S. The beetle has been moving steadily outward from its first discovered infestation in Detroit, Michigan, and has now been found in 12 states and two neighboring Canadian provinces.

The EAB has metallic green wing covers and a coppery red or purple abdomen; it is small enough to fit easily on a penny. Adult beetles leave distinctive D-shaped exit holes in the outer bark of the branches and the trunk. Other signs of infection include tree canopy dieback, yellowing, extensive sprouting from the roots and trunk (called “epicormic shoots”) and browning of leaves. Infested trees may also exhibit woodpecker damage from larvae extraction. Individual, infested trees can be saved by applying specific insecticides but this treatment is neither practicable nor environmentally appropriate to consider for infested forests or large groups of trees.