19 July 2010

Goose Pond Biodiversity Survey - A Rousing Success!

This past weekend (16-17 July 2010), I participated in the Goose Pond Biodiversity Survey near Linton in Greene County, Indiana. This event, sponsored by Rivers Institute at Hanover College, Amos W. Butler Audubon Society, Indiana Academy of Science, Indiana Department of Natural Resources - Division of Fish and Wildlife, Friends of Goose Pond, and Greene County Soil and Water Conservation District, was created in the general mold of a bioblitz. The purpose was to collect baseline data in a variety of disciplines, and a total of 98 scientists and college students from around the state and beyond attended to provide their expertise. Data were gathered on everything from fish to macroinvertebrates to mammals to butterflies; there was even a biogeochemistry team on hand. The plan is to hold another similar event at Goose Pond in five to ten years to document how conditions have changed and what impact these changes have had on the species that call Goose Pond their home. My role in this year's event was to serve as team leader for the vascular plant survey team.

Goose Pond (including Beehunter Marsh) is an approximately 8000-acre property that was farmed as recently as within the past five to ten years. Restoration efforts have focused on marsh, tallgrass prairie, shortgrass prairie, and upland forest communities. Trees were planted and prairie species were seeded in locations with appropriate hydrologic regimes; however, all wetland restoration (4000 acres worth) has occurred through natural regeneration of the seedbank and recruitment from nearby wetlands. The results so far are very encouraging.

The vascular plant team consisted of Don Ruch, Paul Rothrock, Kevin Tungesvick, Chris Reidy, John Taylor, Ben Hess, Bruce Behan, Ed Paynter, Grace Chapman, and me. We were joined by other individuals at various times.

Although we were not able to intensively cover the entire property in just two days, we think that we've recorded at least 75% of the plant species present on the site. It will be very interesting to see what management decisions are made for the property long term, and how these decisions will shape the biodiversity of the site over time.

I plan to post one or two more entries about the results of the biodiversity survey, including photos of some of the plants and animals that I observed, in the next couple of weeks. One of our highlights, though, that I can't resist mentioning now, was Purple Fringeless Orchid (Platanthera peramoena), showed to our team by Kirk Roth, who was inventorying butterflies during the event. Below is a photograph of several members of our team photographing and observing this attractive plant. For more photos and more information on Purple Fringeless Orchid, see my post on Get Your Botany On!.

So, what are the preliminary results of the biodiversity survey, you ask? Take a look at the sheet below...

Final results will be submitted for publication in Proceedings of the Indiana Academy of Science. In the meantime, be sure to check out the post about the biodiversity survey on the Amos W. Butler Audubon Society blog.

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