Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 69.05
Liaison Katherine Spector
Submission Date March 3, 2023

STARS v2.2

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

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Jonathan Mills
Sustainability Office
"---" 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, 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:
The Field Station was established at Rice Creek in 1966 to serve the biological sciences and the college at large. It is located in Oswego, NY., in an area of 300 acres, surrounded by private land. Because historically this area was used as a farmland, we have patches of forest in different stages of ecological succession. We conduct a mowing plan to maintain small open patches with the objective of providing a diverse habitat for wildlife. Additionally, we have a 22.5-acre manmade pond that is one of the most interesting attractions for the public to visit the Field Station. We maintain 7.5 miles of four trails of different lengths. Maintaining a healthy natural environment with a wide diversity of organisms is another great attraction for the Field Station. In addition to forests of different successional stages, we have meadows, a variety of wetlands, and vernal pools, making the area ideal for biodiversity studies. Rice Creek is home to more than 700 species of plants, 11 species of fish, 11 species of amphibians, 18 species of reptiles, 90 species of birds, 39 species of mammals, and an unknown number of algae, fungi, and invertebrates (with exception of butterflies (42 species)). In 2012 the college realized the need to expand the facility to better meet our goals. The construction of the new facility was completed in August 2013. The new building provides a better environment for learning and an attractive facility for public education. It is a larger and greener building consisting of wet and dry Laboratories with 24-seat capacity, a lecture classroom with 30-seat, a research lab, a collections room, a large reception area with a library, a mudroom and a shower for cleaning up after field work, an observatory which is 80 feet away from its control room in the building, and offices for staff and visiting professors. We conserve and maintain different collections: plants (3,458 specimens), birds (2,084 specimens), mammals (945 specimens), reptiles (16 specimens), amphibians (30 specimens), fish (64 specimens) and butterflies (399 specimens). In the last four years the Field Station was designated as a certified Monarch Waystation Station where our students raise monarch from eggs until adulthood and tag and release them as part of the national monarch butterfly monitoring program.

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

A list of endangered and vulnerable species with habitats on land owned or managed by the institution, by level of extinction risk:
Bats: Indiana bat Myotis sodalist. One of our faculty is studying biodiversity of bats and has a permit to capture and study them. This study is not specifically on endangered species, rather a biodiversity study. Birds, no endangered birds Amphibian, no endangered amphibians, Reptiles: spotted turtle (Clemmys guttata) is threatened, Bog turtle (Glyptemys muhlenbergii) is endangered species in Oswego County but not at Rice Creek Eastern massasaugas (Sistrurus catenatus) in central New York, but not in Oswego county. Insects and butterflies: Bog buck moth (Hemileuca maia): endangered species, it occurs in Oswego County but is not at Rice Creek. Endangered Plants: Small White Snakeroot, Ageratina aromatica var. aromatica Burdick's Wild Leek, Allium tricoccum var. burdickii Southeastern Bracken, Pteridium aquilinum Swamp Buttercup, Ranunculus hispidus var. nitidus Tall White Aster, Symphyotrichum lanceolatum Four-flowered Loosestrife, Lysimachia quadriflora

Has the institution conducted an assessment to identify areas of biodiversity importance on land owned or managed by the institution?:

A brief description of areas of biodiversity importance on land owned or managed by the institution:
The lake-front property owned by SUNY Oswego includes approximately 5,700 ft. of shoreline (1.1 miles). Portions of the shoreline banks that provide the transition from lakeshore to upland campus property are dominated by scrub/shrub and forested vegetative communities. This area is utilized as a resting area for migratory birds. The 300 acres land at Rice Creek Field Station is conserved and protected for wildlife and designed for biological and geological studies. No fishing or hunting is allowed on the property. A large area is on a four-year mowing schedule to provide habitats for birds, butterflies, insects, and small mammals. In addition, we established a deer enclosure to study the effect of deer on vegetation at Rice Creek. The property has forests undergoing various stages of succession making it an ideal habitat to support a wide range of wildlife. The pond and a number of vernal pools provide ideal habitat for fish, amphibians, reptiles, snails and other aquatic organisms. Invasive weeds are monitored and controlled to minimize their effect on native plant species. Faculty and students at SUNY Oswego conduct studies specifically on the biodiversity of Rice Creek Fauna and Flora, as well as the geology, ground, and surface water at the Field Station. This is stimulated by offering annual grants, on average 5-8 grants, to support these studies. In addition, the Field Station provides field equipment including nets, radio tags, GPS, trail cameras, trail video cameras, radios and GPS tags, and access to the fields for all faculty and students conducting research. The Field Station established bird nest boxes on the grounds of the Field Station and adjacent areas to monitor and study native and migratory birds. We also do migratory bird banding programs. The Field Station has a butterfly garden, an herb garden, and rain gardens to attract butterflies and insects and our Filed Station is a certified Butterfly Weigh Station. We also have a large collection of bird feeders all year round to study birds.

The methodologies used to identify endangered and vulnerable species and/or areas of biodiversity importance and any ongoing assessment and monitoring mechanisms:
We have one faculty who is studying an endangered reptile but on private, land trust, State or Federal lands. This species is not found at Rice Creek. Another biology faculty is doing research on the bog buck moth species on State land. Buck moth is not found at Rice Creek. We have also contracted an engineering firm that provided a shoreline assessment was to identify areas where the vegetation of the banks and shoreline could be managed to provide an increased viewshed of the lake for campus residents, staff, and visitors while protecting the habitat for migrating birds.

A brief description of the scope of the assessment(s):
SUNY Oswego manages the campus with a majority that has natural habitats to support wildlife and biodiversity.

A brief description of the plans or programs in place to protect or positively affect identified species, habitats, and/or ecosystems:
We instruct our staff to leave nesting birds alone and mow around areas that babies are in until they move on. We have naturalized areas that have an array of wildlife species in them, as well as wooded areas. It is quite common to see animals and birds of all kinds on our campus and we do what we can to protect them, provided they do not create a safety hazard. We have developed no or low mow areas to promote meadows on campus that add to the diverse habitats on campus. To avoid potential impacts to summer Indiana bat habitat, the recommended timeframe for the clearing of large (i.e., larger than 3-inch diameter at breast height) woody vegetation is, between October 1 to March 31. Additionally, consultation with the USFWS regarding potential impacts to protected floral and faunal species (e.g., Indiana bat) should be considered. Impacts to Indiana bat summer roosting and foraging habitat can be avoided by limiting tree cutting to the winter months (October 1 through March 31). Additional research is necessary to identify the potential presence of other protected species on campus property. This research (information requests submitted to the USFWS and the Natural Heritage Program (NHP)) can be performed prior to performance of the viewshed improvements.

Estimated percentage of areas of biodiversity importance that are also protected areas :

Website URL where information about the institution’s biodiversity initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

Data source(s) and notes about the submission:
O'Brien & Gere - SUNY Oswego Natural Resource Assessment Lake Ontario Shoreline - May 19,2015

O'Brien & Gere - SUNY Oswego Natural Resource Assessment Lake Ontario Shoreline - May 19,2015

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.