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Plover babies hatching | Rare bats roosting | Millpond Survey
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June News 2015
Babies are hatching
Lots of beach-nesting activity is underway.  So far it's a strong year for plovers, oyster catchers and terns.  We could use your help.   
Read more | Volunteer 
Biologist hired
We've hired Elizabeth Ford, our first seasonal shorebird biologist to coordinate our beach nesting bird monitoring and protection.  
Read more 
MV Vision: Bats
Liz Baldwin and Luanne Johnson were awarded MV Vision Fellowships to study the daytime roosting habitats of threatened bats.
Read more | Volunteer
Help! We need a truck
Our Blazer is fading fast, help us match grant funding to buy a much needed new truck and support our work. Even $10 will help.
Read more | Give now

Mill Brook Study 
BWorks has enlisted Richard Johnson to lead a study of the Mill Brook Watershed's vegetation and macroinvertebrates.  
Read more | Volunteer
NYS Science Fair Award
Charlotte Champ, BWorks' 2014 Research intern, earned high marks for her study of predator activity and invertebrate abundance on nesting beaches with high and low human activity.   
Read more
We have a summer fundraising goal of $30,000 that will support our mentoring programs for young adults and adult volunteers, our wildlife projects (snakes, willet, bats and beach birds), and help us purchase a field truck.
 
Thank you to all of our faithful donors. Individual donors are the backbone of BiodiversityWorks because we depend on grants and donations to fund our work. Your gifts allow BWorks to grow and build our capacity. All of us at BiodiversityWorks want you to know how grateful we are to have you on our team!
 
Not a donor, yet?  It’s not too late to show your support, consider making a gift today
Donate to BiodiversityWorks now
Thank you to our 2014 year-end givers and spring supporters! 
Anonymous
Anonymous
Lindsay and Blake Allison
Carroll Biessecker
Joe Bower
Kib Bramhall                       
Sharon Britton & John Patrick
Betsy Cornwall                  
Twyla Dell
Catherine Dolan & Rob Bierregaard
Bob and Angela Egerton                
Andrew Flake
Brad Fligor          
Karyn Franzen  
The Garfinkle Foundation
Karen & Peter Harrity
Shay Howlin
Julia Humphreys              
Gerald and Linda Jones                 
Mal Jones
Marian Knapp
L'Etoile/Michael Brisson
Rob and Petra McCarron
Offshore Ale Company – Dine to Donate
Our Island Club
Michael Moore  
Jesse Olson
Liz Packer
Greg Palermo   
Chris Perleberg                 
Bea Phear           
Judy Salosky & Jim Pepper
Jim Pringle
Laurence Pringle   
Emily Reddington & Marty Harris
George Rogers & Sheryl Roth Rogers
Tim Simmons
Bob Woodruff   
Ann & David Vaughan
Jeff & Kathy Verner         
Vital Signs 

...And to our grant donors for 2015  

Shorebird babies

Each spring and summer, we walk many miles of Vineyard beaches to locate and protect nesting Piping plovers (Charadrius melodus) , American oystercatchers (Haematopus palliatus), and Least terns (Sterna antillarum – shown here). BiodiversityWorks cooperates with private landowners and beach associations to monitor and protect these nesting birds so that people and birds may co-exist.  We focus on locating pairs, protecting them from human disturbance and abundant predators (primarily crows, skunks, gulls, and cats), and sharing our appreciation for the birds with people we meet on the beach.

Along with a new shorebird biologist (see article on Elizabeth Ford), Sharon Britton has taken on the role of volunteer coordinator for BiodiversityWorks.  Liz, Luanne, and Sharon led a successful training program for volunteers on May 30th, in collaboration with the Trustees of Reservations. Since then, Sharon has been busy helping match volunteers to the many sites and activities involved in exclosing nests and sitting with newly hatched chicks on beaches across the island.  If you'd like the chance to observe and protect our diverse bird populations, come and help!

Help us buy a truck

As our wildlife monitoring and research projects expand, BiodiversityWorks needs a truck for moving signs, fencing, and other equipment. Our donated Chevy Blazer is on its last legs.  We’re soliciting individual donations via Crowdrise, hoping to raise a total of $3,125 to combine with gifts already received and grant funding. Our staff, interns, volunteers, and board members have all contributed.  We hope you will too.  Please help us raise the $1,530 we need by July 4!

Charlotte Champ impresses NY judges

Charlotte received two awards from the 2015 New York State Science and Engineering Fair: a second place in her category, Earth & Environmental Sciences, and a special award in marine biology from NOAA. Congratulations Charlotte!!

The Marjot Foundation funded Charlotte's research project, and Luanne was her mentor. The two worked together to design her project investigating whether human use on beaches influences predator activity - skunk activity in particular. Charlotte conducted the field work, with a lot of support from her family. 
Charlotte's study abstract:  Piping plovers have experienced population declines on the Atlantic coast in the last century attributable to habitat destruction caused by development and predation by superabundant predators. I studied predator activity from June-August 2014 at four sites on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts with varying seaweed (wrack) abundance and human activity in order to inform predator management and plover protection efforts. I predicted that that high human use beaches would have more predator activity than low human use beaches, and that beaches with abundant invertebrates (abundant wrack) would have more predator activity than beaches with few invertebrates (scant wrack). The two high human use sites had the highest average number of skunk tracks per meter, suggesting a correlation between human activity and the presence of skunks. The invertebrate data was less conclusive but may still have important implications.

Conclusions from her study:  Beaches with high human use had the most skunk activity. This provides a data-driven argument for enhancing efforts to reduce human food subsidies (picnic food scraps) on piping plover nesting beaches on Martha’s Vineyard and elsewhere.  Additionally, patterns extrapolated from this data concerning when predators are particularly active may be used by conservationists and beach managers to plan predator control and shorebird protection measures. Our second hypothesis that “Beaches with abundant wrack will have more predator activity than beaches with low wrack” was not supported by the data
.

About Charlotte: Charlotte summers on Chapaquiddick and attends the Spense school in Manhattan. After graduation, in 2016, Charlotte will go to college and study medicine.    

Elizabeth Ford, shorebird biologist


BiodiversityWorks has hired a seasonal shorebird biologist to coordinate our growing beach nesting bird protection efforts.  Elizabeth Ford is an experienced biologist.  With a B.A. from Columbia University in Environmental Biology, and a lot of ornithological experience, she is excited to continue her avian research and management career.  Most recently she monitored the productivity of Piping Plovers and Least Terns on the Missouri River in South Dakota.  Covering a 15 mile section of river Elizabeth conducted daily surveys, re-sighted color bands, located nests, captured and banded birds. She says, "I look forward to bringing my shore bird experience to Martha's Vineyard.”  
 
As the Shorebird Biologist/Coordinator for the beach nesting bird program, Elizabeth is responsible for monitoring and protection of nesting piping plovers, least terns, common terns, American oystercatchers, and black skimmers at many sites around the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Chappaquiddick. Shel coordinates with Liz and Luanne, as well as mentors interns and/or adult volunteers to accomplish the programs objectives. She also maintains good communication with private landowners and collaborators and works to engage the public in beach nesting bird conservation.   
 

Millbrook Watershed Study 


The Millbrook Watershed committee in the Town of West Tisbury awarded BiodiversityWorks a contract to gather stream morphometrics and macroinvertebrate data as part of its comprehensive Millbrook watershed survey. The study will be led by Richard Johnson.  You may be familiar with Dick through his field work with ticks and tick borne illnesses on Martha’s Vineyard.  We’re thrilled to have him play a critical role in this important study.
 
The Millbrook watershed survey is the result of the sometimes contentious discussions over almost 10 years concerning the condition of Mill Pond and whether the pond should be dredged to maintain its scenic value or whether the dam that creates the pond should be removed and allow parts of the watershed to return to their natural state. The Millbrook watershed survey is unique to the Vineyard in the breath of cooperation between at least seven local organizations and private volunteers to do the work.
 
Our work will include a morphometric investigation of the Mill Brook watershed to confirm the shape and boundaries of the watershed, a description of the vegetation species and distribution in and around Fisher, Crocker, Priester’s and Albert’s ponds upstream of Mill Pond, a general stream habitat survey above and below each pond (within 50 m), once in June, and once in Aug/Sept. 
 
Next will be an investigation of the macroinvertebrates along the Mill Brook between the headwaters and the Old Mill Pond using a kick net or dip net to sample and identify the genera and species involved.  An aquatic macroinvertebrate is an organism we can see with our naked eye. Many of these macroinvertebrates make their homes in rocks, leaves and sediment in stream beds. Some of these insects and non-insects spend their entire lives in water, like scuds, clams, mussels and snails. Usually just the larva and nymph stages are spent in water. Then the larva or nymph will spend it's adult life out of the water.
 
Volunteers form the backbone of BWorks projects, and this one is no exception.  Interested volunteers can take part in any of three surveys.  The first is to assist with vegetation surveys (identifying plant species and cover) on borders of ponds and within ponds along the Millbrook watershed.  Second is the collecting of macroinvertebrates above and below ponds along the Millbrook and placing samples into containers to take back to the lab for identification.  Finally macroinvertebrate identification will be back in the lab: sorting and identifying invertebrates collected and data by site and sample date.  
BiodiversityWorks 2015 Grants =   $81,675

The Betsy and Jesse Fink Foundation – Capacity Building Young Adult Mentoring Grant
The Daniels Wildlife Trust – Willet Migration Study & Beach Nesting Bird Protection
The Edey Foundation – Beach Nesting Bird Protection & Mapping Snake Activity on MV
Martha’s Vineyard Vision Fellowship – Northern Long-eared Bat Roost Site & Migration Study
Martha’s Vineyard Vision Fellowship – Erin Hickey’s Internship in field biology
Massachusetts Cultural Council– Posters in Libraries on MV Research, Monitoring or Restoration projects
The Permanent Endowment Fund - Summer Intern Position
US Fish & Wildlife Service Piping Plover Restoration Grant – Predator Management to decrease predation on piping plovers.
 
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We are grateful to the Offshore Ale Company for hosting a Dine to Donate event to benefit BiodiversityWorks on March 5th. Many hearty souls braved a blizzard to dine at Offshore with us. We auctioned off an Offshore gift certificate as well as clothing and gear donated from Patagonia’s Boston store. We raised $500 that evening, which helped us to purchase field equipment. 
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