Alvar communities develop on extensive, fractured outcrops of limestone with little to no soil. In NYS they are restricted to the area northwest of Watertown to near Lake Ontario. Four distinct types of alvar communities are generally recognized, i.e., alvar pavement barrens, grasslands, shrublands, and woodlands, developing along a gradient of increased soil depth. Alvar communities are of great conservation concern in the Great Lakes region because of their limited extent, extraordinary biodiversity, and their large number of rare and threatened plant and animal species.
Project Title: Conservation of alvar communities in New York state
One of the primary threats to this diversity is invasive herbaceous and shrub species, especially black swallowwort, European buckthorn, and Asian honeysuckles in New York alvars. Beginning in early summer 2011 we will initiate experiments at Lucky Star Ranch to study the response of invasive and native plant species to herbicide application and prescribed burning. Because of the significant populations of large herbivores here (including white-tailed deer, Pere David deer, and red deer), we will also exclude some treatment plots from herbivory by large mammals to examine the influence of larger grazers with and without herbicide and fire treatments.
Location: Various alvar locations northwest of Watertown, NY, but experimental work currently being done at Lucky Star Ranch
Sussman Environmental Internship, Lucky Star Ranch