Resource Monitoring

Monthly streamflow and groundwater level measurements at various locations across the island provide insight into annual and seasonal fluctuations in groundwater available for human use and to support critical freshwater wetland habitat and species. In years with limited precipitation, these data are also used by the PI Water District to establish conservation stages.
Native forest pests, such as pine beetle and oak crypt gall wasps, display natural cycles of abundance in forest areas. Distribution of these pests is often a function of environmental stressors (such as drought) causing stress in host tree species; stress can also be a consequence of competition for space and light.  Climate change is anticipated to result in more prolonged persistence and greater distribution of forest pest species.  Homeowner guides to address forest pest species are available on the Stewardship News page.

The wide-spread use of DDT decimated once robust populations of raptors nationally. The osprey, once common on Prudence Island and then absent for decades, is a very visual example of the recovery of many raptor species. Systematic monitoring for osprey nest sites and reproductive success (number of fledglings) provides a measure of population recovery.

Bi-weekly monitoring of ticks occurs from April through November. The relative abundance by growth stage (larvae, nymphs, adults) for each of three species of ticks (lone star, deer, wood [or dog]) is captured.  This effort may contribute to a greater understanding of the relationship between deer density, tick abundance, and the incidence of tick-borne disease.

The most abundant (and perhaps only) species of rabbit on Prudence Island is the Eastern cottontail (NEC). However, as the population of NEC has been under consideration for listing as an endangered species due to extreme population decline, periodic checks for NEC are conducted to ensure that, if present, habitat enhancements to promote greater numbers are not required.  The release of captive bred NEC on Patience Island has contributed to population recovery and expansion in southern New England.

Long-term monitoring provides insight into the current (and potentially changing) status of resources, habitat, and species. Trends over time capture response to a change in condition (e.g. climate change, environmental policy) indicated by shifts in relative abundance or distribution on the landscape.

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