Current Research on Ecosystem Restoration

Vernal Pools

Vernal pools are a unique type of temporary wetland that typically dry on an annual basis. They tend to be small in size and isolated from other water bodies, thus they are easily destroyed when forest lands are developed. However, their importance in supporting unique and imperiled species is increasingly well-documented. For example, vernal pools provide breeding habitat for amphibians such as wood frogs and mole salamanders, and they are the sole habitat for fairy shrimp. Vernal pools contribute to local and regional biodiversity, provide critical habitat for amphibians and invertebrates, and serve hydrologic functions. In addition, their small size belies Read more about this research…

Blue Lupine and the Karner Blue Butterfly

Dependence on wild seed sources is often impractical for large-scale habitat restoration programs thereby warranting reliance on commercial seed supplies of unknown provenance and fitness. We used microsatellite markers and a common garden experiment to evaluate commercial and locally collected seed sources for use in a New York State-based, landscape-scale program for restoring blue lupine Lupinus perennis, the host plant for the federally-listed (Endangered) Lycaeides melissa samuelis (Karner blue butterfly). Project: Determination of Lupine Variability and Implications for Karner Blue Butterfly Management Summary: We determined that seeds sold as “wild blue lupine” by three commercial sources were hybrids (L. perennis Read more about this research…

Solvay Waste Beds

In Central New York, hydrogeologic systems associated with limestone and halite have resulted in locally abundant but otherwise rare plant communities: marl fens and inland salt marshes. These geologic features also attracted to upstate New York industrialists who used limestone and halite brine in the production of soda ash—a process that produces vast amounts of Solvay waste, an infertile, alkaline material comprised of calcium, magnesium and sodium salts. During the century of soda ash production in Central New York, approximately 600 hectares of Solvay waste landfills (i.e., waste beds) were created and deposited near Onondaga Lake. The waste beds are Read more about this research…