Overall Rating Silver - expired
Overall Score 53.78
Liaison Lisa Mitten
Submission Date March 8, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

State University of New York at New Paltz
OP-10: Biodiversity

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Kara Belinsky
Assistant Professor
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution own or manage land that includes or is adjacent to legally protected areas, internationally recognized areas, priority sites for biodiversity, and/or regions of conservation importance?:

A brief description of the legally protected areas, internationally recognized areas, priority sites for biodiversity, and/or regions of conservation importance:

SUNY New Paltz and the SUNY New Paltz Foundation own land that is of conservation importance. This land is a forest fragment and an overgrown former apple orchard at the Southern end of the campus that we call the Campus Forest and Orchard. This land is important for conservation in that is a small area of undeveloped land in an urbanizing suburban landscape.

Has the institution conducted an assessment or assessments to identify endangered and vulnerable species (including migratory species) with habitats on institution-owned or –managed land?:

Has the institution conducted an assessment or assessments to identify environmentally sensitive areas on institution-owned or –managed land?:

The methodologies used to identify endangered and vulnerable species and/or environmentally sensitive areas (including most recent year assessed) and any ongoing assessment and monitoring mechanisms:

The Biology Department has been monitoring bird and tree communities on the Campus Forest and Orchard and across the rest of the campus. We began monitoring the bird community in 2014 by using point counts (standing and counting #bird/per species seen or heard for a set time period at each site on repeated days) at three campus locations, one Campus Forest location, and one Campus Orchard location and compared the results to those completed at three nearby forest locations not owned by the University. We began further monitoring the bird community in the Campus Forest and Orchard in 2016 using a bird banding protocol developed by the non-profit Institute for Bird Populations called MAPS (Monitoring Avian Survivorship and Productivity). This involves setting up a network of 10 mist nets to capture and band birds on roughly 10 dates for 6 hours each during the bird breeding season each summer. Banding the birds allows us to accurately count the number of individual birds of each species (when we recapture a previously banded bird, we can document it’s survival and not include it in our count of bird abundance, since it has already been counted, we can also age the birds to measure reproduction: which species are fledging young at that location). We completed our MAPS assessment in 2016 and the most recent one in 2017.

We have also been monitoring tree community composition in six 400m plots.

We also have two trail cameras monitoring animals to identify species in the area and determine relative abundances.

A brief description of identified species, habitats and/or environmentally sensitive areas:

Both the Campus Forest and The Campus Orchard host a diverse community of birds, including many species of neotropical songbirds, the group of small birds that are declining across the continent because they migrate long distances, breeding in North America, and wintering in Central or South America. Migration is dangerous for these tiny birds, and they require habitat to be preserved at both the breeding and wintering grounds, and at small “stop-over” locations along their migratory route. Neotropical migrants captured at our Campus Forest/Orchard site include: wood thrush, gray catbird, rose-breasted grosbeak, yellow warbler, blue-winged warbler, common yellowthroat, house wren, American redstart, Baltimore oriole, Eastern pewee, rufus-sided towhee, and Swainson’s thrush. The Swanson’s thrush were banded early in the season, and are unlikely to breed this far South, so they were probably using the Campus Forest as stop-over site, which is notable.

For the results of the tree survey, please see the attached link to an website with an interactive map. Hemlock and Ash trees were noted as being of conservation concern. Hemlocks are currently under attack by the Woolly Adelgid and Ash trees are threatened by the Emerald Ash Borer.

The results of the animal survey revealed that many animals rely on the campus forest. It is important to note that large animals such as bears and coyotes were observed in the forest. The south forest is a small and relatively isolated forest fragment and for it to contain such large animals is notable. It appears to be a stepping stone in the midst of the developed area of the campus and surrounding town for animals to move between larger forests.

A brief description of plans or programs in place to protect or positively affect identified species, habitats and/or environmentally sensitive areas:

The Deyo Hall renovation project is exploring a LEED credit to positively affect bird species surrounding the building.

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

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