Phenology is the study of nature’s timing. This includes everything from leaf out to egg-hatching and the first spring peeper calls. The Linda Loring Nature Foundation has begun to gather baseline data on phenological events by observing leaf bud burst, flowering, and ripening fruit for multiple native plant species. Many phenological events are strongly linked to temperature, so, along with the phenological observations, we’re collecting temperature and light data at various locations across the property to link current variation in plant timing to temperature, light, or slight elevation changes found throughout the property. Having this baseline data will help us to detect any changes that may occur due to potential climate change. In 2014 we coordinated with the Nantucket New School working with two 8th graders for their senior research projects. We’re also using this project as part of our Citizen Science objective at LLNF. Check out the Families in Nature Programs to find out about our family science programs and how you can participate. The data we’re collecting will also be entered into Nature's Notebook, a national phenology database. Thus, the phenology data from LLNF will be useful to us on the island, but also contribute regionally and nationally.
The Linda Loring Nature Foundation property is host to numerous rare and endangered species. We have begun an annual census of these populations to note any changes to population health. For each species we survey the appropriate habitats when the plants are most visible, usually when in flower or fruit. Population locations are marked via GPS and additional information such as overall health, reproductive status, soil moisture, canopy closer, and associated species are recorded. This information and associated maps are reported to the Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program.
Understanding the resources at LLNF will ultimately help us as we begin to design a management plan for the property.
The Linda Loring Nature Foundation property consists of seven vegetation community types with the majority acreage consisting of the “critically imperiled” communities of sandplain grassland and sandplain heathland. These habitats are both early successional and, as such, require some form of disturbance to be maintained. The LLNF property has had little to no active management. Disturbance to date has been in the forms of deer browsing, passive human recreation, and wind/weather disturbance. A walking trail has been maintained with annual mowing since 2008.
The LLNF is ultimately interested in creating a management plan for the property with goals of protecting and enhancing property assets while mitigating for ecological stressors. As a precursor to designing a management plan for the property, we first need to establish a baseline of vegetation on site. We have begun a vegetation inventory and monitoring project paying special attention to rare, endangered, and invasive plant species.
In conjunction with the Maria Mitchell Association and Scott Smyers of Oxbow Associates (Acton, MA), the Linda Loring Nature Foundation has been surveying the snakes on property since 2011. We have over 60 snake traps (large pieces of plywood laid on the ground) positioned across the property focusing on edges and near water. Captured snakes are weighed, measured, marked, and assessed for overall health, then released back in the same habitat.
While there are six species of Nantucket, the majority of those captured at LLNF are garter snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis). In addition, we have caught one ribbon snake (Thamnophis sauritus) and one ring-necked snake (Diadophis punctatus) since 2011.
This project is part of our Citizen Science objective at LLNF. Check out the Families in Nature Programs to find out about our family science programs and how you can participate.
PO Box 149
Nantucket, MA 02554
110 Eel Point Road
Nantucket, MA 02554