Archive for October 2009

DEC Launches New York Nature Explorer

October 22, 2009

What animals, plants and significant habitats are found in your county, town, and neighborhood? What places in New York are home to the American dragonhead, the black-throated blue warbler, Virginia pine, or riverside ice meadows?

Anyone with an interest in the natural history of New York State can now find the answers to these questions with New York Nature Explorer – – a new online tool launched by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). New York Nature Explorer is an interactive gateway to biodiversity information that can be utilized by residents, landowners, land managers, municipal officials, planners, consultants, students, and anyone else interested in researching the natural world.

DEC maintains many databases holding documented locations of plants, animals, and habitats, and, increasingly, much of this biodiversity information is being made available on the DEC public web site. Through New York Nature Explorer, users can learn about birds from the 2nd New York State Breeding Bird Atlas (2000-2005); reptiles and amphibians from the state Amphibian and Reptile Atlas Project (1990-1999); and rare animals, rare plants, and significant natural communities from the databases of the New York Natural Heritage Program. While not all information on animals and plants are currently available, DEC plans to add more databases over time.

Users can look up information by choosing a county, town, watershed, a defined area, or a particular species. Then, Nature Explorer provides geographic information in both map and list form about the animals, plants, and significant natural communities such as wetlands, forests, grasslands, ponds, and streams. Other information can also be easily obtained, including links to fact sheets about a particular species, and whether it is considered rare, threatened, or endangered. For sensitive species, including animals that are state or federally listed as endangered or threatened, location information will show only the counties and watersheds where the plant or animal is found.

The information available on New York Nature Explorer can:

• Help provide a better understanding of the diversity of life in the state and local communities.
• Serve as a resource to better inform land use decisions, natural resource management, biodiversity conservation, and environmental assessment.
• Offer an initial indication of possible rare and protected animals and plants for those involved in the planning or permitting of a project or action.

New York Nature Explorer was developed in part with funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, NYS Biodiversity Research Institute, and contributions to Return a Gift to Wildlife (RAGTW). RAGTW is a law established to help provide additional funds to enhance DEC’s fish and wildlife programs. It’s a voluntary contribution line on the state income tax form to provide taxpayers with an easy, simple way to support fish and wildlife conservation.


Invasive Species Research Funding Opportunities

October 16, 2009

From Holly Menninger: I was recently alerted to new funding opportunities from the Northeastern Integrated Pest Management Center. The Request for Applications for the IPM Partnership Grants has been posted, and applications are due December 14, 2009. The Northeast Regional IPM Competitive Grants RFA is expected shortly. Both programs support research and extension activities related to invasive species .

Visit the NYISRI Web site for links to this and other invasive species funding opportunities:

Holly Menninger, Ph.D.
Senior Extension Associate and
NY Invasive Species Research Institute Coordinator
Department of Natural Resources
Cornell University
110 Rice Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
Phone: 607.254.6789
Fax: 607.255.0349

A Web-based Flora for Tompkins County, New York

October 8, 2009

From Anna Stalter: The Tompkins County Flora (TCF) is a web-based effort to document the occurrence and distribution of native and naturalized vascular plants of Tompkins County, New York, based on specimens that are housed in the herbarium of the L. H. Bailey Hortorium (BH), Department of Plant Biology, Cornell University. Beginning in 2005, a subset of representative specimens from BH were selected and label data from each was entered into a database. Each specimen record includes the species name, the date and location of collection, the name of the collector and associated collection number, and any other descriptive information that appears on the specimen label. Users can view and search the records at the Plant Systematics Database. As of July 2006, the TCF lists 563 genera and 1426 species of vascular plants. Specimen records are being continually added to the database, which will eventually include records for all ~20000 Tompkins county plant specimens in BH. There will also be an effort to determine which Tompkins county species are lacking in the BH collection, with the expectation that new specimens will be added as needed. It is hoped that interested local botanists and naturalists will collaborate with this effort to document our local flora, adding new records, providing images, mapping information, and descriptions of the plants and habitats of Tompkins county. For more information about the TCF, or to get involved, please contact the Project Coordinator, Anna Stalter (

Azolla filiculoides found in Ulster County, New York

October 8, 2009

Pacific mosquito fern (Azolla filculoides), an exotic aquatic fern, has been found in Ulster County this summer by DEC Riparian Buffer Coordinator Kevin Grieser.  He has it occurring in two water bodies near New Paltz.  These are the first reports for this species in Ulster County according to the NY Flora Atlas.  This species, well established in Central and Western New York, may be extending its range in the lower Hudson area. Its distinctive red leaves can be seen covering the surface of the water. The similar Azolla caroliniana, a native species, has only been found in Oswego County and can be distinguished by having multicellular hairs on the leaves instead of hairs of one cell on A. filiculoides.  A microscope is usually needed to see the difference. Photos by Kevin from the plants on the Swartkill, east of New Paltz, are below.

Giant Pine-Drops (Pterospora andromedea) Rediscovered along Lake Champlain.

October 7, 2009

From Steve Young: Giant pine drops had not been seen along Lake Champlain since 1963 when it was observed on Valcour Island. This summer one plant was found along a trail north of Plattsburgh by Lawrence Gillett, a retired SUNY Plattsburgh geology professor. This beautiful saprophyte (or possibly a fungal parasite) is very rare in New York and only a few locations are presently known – west of Rochester. It seemed to be most common in New York in the late 1800s and early 1900s and mostly from central and western New York along big lakes and rivers. The only other Clinton County record is a 1905 collection at Bluff Point just south of Plattsburgh. This plant may appear one year and not reappear again for more than a decade, making it difficult to survey. It’s nice to know that it’s still around the Lake Champlain area.

Giant Pine-drops flowers at Letchworth State Park. Photo: Kim Smith.

Giant Pine-drops flowers at Letchworth State Park. Photo: Kim Smith.

A Nature Blog to Follow: Fish Creek Saratoga

October 7, 2009
Here is a beautiful new blog about the nature of Fish Creek, a tributary of Saratoga Lake.

From the Intro to Jackie Callahan’s blog: I have been in love with nature most of my adult life. This passion first began with my desire to draw wildflowers. Then, I began to be curious about all of the other beautiful and interesting things I was seeing around me: insects, birds, trees, etc., and I was inspired to draw these, as well. Eventually, I began to immerse myself more deeply into my study of the natural world. I started the practice of keeping a nature-journal. It was specifically about my outings in my kayak on Fish Creek, an outlet of Saratoga Lake. I described what I saw, made sketches, took photographs, etc., as a result, I have a twelve-year study of the natural history of Fish Creek. These records have been a source of inspiration for me, for: songs, drawings, paintings, poetry, and stories. I have self-published a book, The Wildflowers of Saratoga National Historical Park, and I illustrated Skidmore College professor, Sue Van Hook’s book, Treasure in the Northwoods, but my first love is the journal I have kept on Fish Creek. I would like to use this blog to share excerpts of that journal with kindred spirits: nature- lovers, artists, poets, musicians, etc., all over the world.

Follow Jackie’s blog at:

Fir Clubmoss (Huperzia selago) Seen in New York for the First Time in 94 Years!

October 7, 2009

From Steve Young: On September 7 Anne Johnson, Nancy Eldblom, and David Werier were exploring the town of Waddington in St. Lawrence County when they came across a population of about 5 stems of Huperzia selago in dry sandy soil in a poor pasture reverting to a thick cedar stand. This was the first time this historical rare plant had been seen in New York since 1915 when it was collected in the Town of Fine, also in St. Lawrence County. Congratulations to the intrepid explorers for this significant find!

Fir clubmoss stem. Photo: David Werier.

Fir clubmoss stem. Photo: David Werier.

Fir clubmoss forking stem. Photo: David Werier.

Fir clubmoss forking stem. Photo: David Werier.