Welcome to the blog of the ARC, dedicated to encourage, facilitate, and disseminate scholarship that advances the quality and vitality of the Adirondack Park and related environs. For more information on our history, projects, annual conference, and the Adirondack Journal of Environmental Studies, please visit our web page at www.adkresearch.org.

Friday, August 15, 2008

AJES to move to open access, internet platform

[The following editorial was published in the summer issue of the Adirondack Journal of Environmental Studies, Vol. 15, No. 1, 2008]

Public Knowledge, Open Access
Jon D. Erickson

When the Adirondack Research Consortium and the Adirondack Journal of Environmental Studies were launched in 1994 I was in graduate school, interested in research on Adirondack economy and ecology, and desperate for a forum to pose questions, exchange ideas, and ultimately be apart of the policy and management process. Gone were the days of my professors – typewriters and armies of statisticians replaced by the PC – but the collections of the university library were still the dominant form of research. A literature review meant that the most current research cited was already three or more years old, reflecting the lag time from field work, analysis, and writing to peer review, editing, and publishing. The use of electronic listservs to form research networks was just beginning to narrow the gap between question and answer (with our very own Adiron-L as part of that first generation). Dial-up home internet access was a luxury, spam amounted to a few unsolicited e-mails a week, and college students still lived and breathed the Dewey decimal system.

Card catalogs today seem like a relic from a century ago, not just a decade ago. While dial-up internet and poor cell service still characterize many rural communities, the trends in internet archiving and publishing have significantly improved the delivery of current research. Research by my own students today is more often done through laptops and high speed, wireless connections to vast digital libraries (often from a couch in a coffee shop!). While limited internet access still plagues many rural areas, my own field research in the distant corners of Africa and Latin America is more often than not facilitated by the internet. Quality control can be challenging, and the standards of peer review are as important as ever, but information access and literacy has rapidly changed the publishing landscape.

The majority of research journals today provide all content via the internet – some for free, others only to library or individual subscribers. Articles from widely cited journals such as Science or Nature to the most specialized journals are just a mouse click away. While most journals still publish a print version as well, the number of open access peer-reviewed web journals is growing rapidly. International collaborations such as the Public Knowledge Project (pkp.sfu.ca) and their free Open Journal Systems software have facilitated an explosion of web journal publication, with 1400 titles in 10 languages using this publishing platform alone. A recent estimate of peer-reviewed, open access journals puts the total at 3400, about 12% of the worldwide total of peer-reviewed journals, and about two thirds of non-open access journals allow their authors to deposit their manuscripts in open access repositories.[1]

Web journals are more than just online archives. They need not be static, one-way dialogues between writer and reader. Interactive reader commentary is often facilitated, weekly web logs (blogs) from editors and authors is becoming the norm, and the domain of who’s voice is publishable is broadening beyond just the credentialed expert community. Peer-reviewed wiki sites such as the Encyclopedia of Earth (www.eoearth.org) encourage submission of edits, reviews, and boxed insets to previously published work, in addition to publication of web books and articles.

And so, as I hinted at in my last prerogative, AJES will begin experimenting with a web version. The first step has been to create an Adirondack Research Consortium blog (found at adkresearch.blogspot.com), where invited blog authors will post regular research notes, ARC conference and business updates, and other news relevant to the Adirondack research community. Anyone and everyone can read and comment on postings. Over the coming months we’ll begin to put this issue of AJES online, experiment with layout and features, and prepare for future online issues (along with our print issue). The plan is to join the growing community of scholarship under the Public Knowledge Project, with the journal Ecology and Society (www.ecologyandsociety.org), one of the earliest peer-reviewed open access journals, serving as a model. Please be sure to browse www.ajes.org in the coming months, check out our progress, and get back to me with ideas and advice at jon.erickson@uvm.edu, or the old-fashioned way at 802-656-3328.

[1] Suber, Peter, “The Opening of Science and Scholarship,” Publius Project, June 4, 2008 [accessed on August 10, 2008, publius.cc/page/2/].

AJES Summer Issue in press

The summer issue of the Adirondack Journal of Environmental Studies (Volume 15, Number 1) went to press this week. Highlights include an interview with Dr. Ross Whaley on sustainable development in the Adirondacks, and peer-reviewed articles on Adirondack ecosystem modeling and creating genuine progress indicators in the Northern Forest.
President's Message
by William F. Porter

Public Knowledge, Open Access
by Jon D. Erickson

Book Review
Acid Rain in the Adirondacks by Jenkins et al.
by James C. White

A New Deal for the Adirondacks: Establishing an Adirondack CCC Modeled Program
by Eric Bouchard

Is a Sustainable Adirondack Park a Pipe Dream? An interview with Dr. Ross Whaley
by Graham L. Cox

Development of an Adirondack Ecosystem Model
by Stephen Signell, Benjamin Zuckerberg, Stacy McNulty, and William Porter

The Genuine Progress Indicator: A New Measure of Economic Development for the Northern Forest
by Kenneth J. Bagstad and Marta Ceroni
For more information on AJES, past issues, or to subscribe to the print edition, please visit www.ajes.org.

Adirondack Climate Conference coming in November

See www.usclimateaction.org for conference updates and outcomes from the national conference on climate change held in the Adirondacks this past June.

Northern Forest Institute to open in Adirondacks

The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry plans to establish a new training institute for researchers and managers of northern forests based at century-old Masten House, a former corporate retreat in the central Adirondacks.

The Northern Forest Institute, on 46 acres of Open Space Conservancy land in Newcomb, will get $1.125 million in state grants to start. The Department of Environmental Conservation says it has committed $1.6 million over the next four years for research on visitor demand, experiences and effect on the woodlands. The center will also offer training for recreation managers in the state forest preserve.

The "northern forest" extends from Lake Ontario at Tug Hill, across the Adirondacks to northern Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

For more information on the proposed Northern Forest Institute, see:
  • The strategic plan document at the Adirondack Ecological Center.
  • Press release on the project by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Research Notes: Bicknell's Thrush-Veery hybrid?

Scientists from the Vermont Center for Ecostudies found a possible hybrid of a Bicknell's Thrush and Veery on Stratton Mountain in Vermont. VCE scientists wonder if this might be a case of a low elevation species, the Veery, moving upward in elevation in response to climate change - or it could just be a random rare breeding event between these two closely related species. Check out VCE's blog for more on this topic.

Monday, July 28, 2008

2008-09 Membership Renewal

Please consider renewing your membership or joining the Adirondack Research Consortium (ARC) today. As we face several challenges on the future sustainability of the Adirondack Park, the ARC’s work of promoting sound science and research by facilitating partnership and collaboration has never been more important.

With your membership, you will receive a one-year subscription to the Adirondack Journal of Environmental Studies (AJES), (two issues). The summer edition of AJES is in production and will be published shortly. Don’t miss out! As a member, you will also receive notice of upcoming ARC events and activities.

Please support the work of the ARC by joining today. The July 1, 2008 through June 30, 2009 membership year has already begun. Please print and complete the renewal coupon below, and send it to us with a check for only $35.

Thank you!

□ Yes, I would like to renew my membership or join the Adirondack Research Consortium and receive two issues of AJES, starting with the 2008 summer edition.

I have enclosed a check for $35 made out to the ARC. Please list me as:

Name: ________________________________________

Affiliation ______________________________________

Address: _______________________________________

City/State/Zip ___________________________________

E-mail: __________________ Phone: _________________

Adirondack Research Consortium
P.O. Box 96
Paul Smiths, NY 12970

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Call for Papers

The 16th Annual Conference on the Adirondacks
“A Sustainable Adirondack Park – Ecological, Economic, and Business Perspectives”
May 20-21, 2009, Lake Placid, NY

The Adirondack Research Consortium (ARC) invites researchers of national, regional, and local expertise to present their latest scientific research at the 16th Annual Conference on the Adirondacks in Lake Placid, NY, on May 20-21, 2009. This is an invitation to submit an abstract of a paper to be presented in a panel discussion at the conference. Individuals may also choose to submit an abstract for a poster to be displayed throughout the proceedings which will include an opportunity to meet other conference attendees to discuss it. The Annual Conference on the Adirondacks is a forum for researchers to present current information on natural, social, economic, cultural, and recreational resources, as well as, an opportunity to bring people with diverse backgrounds together in collaborative efforts.

For more information please contact the Adirondack Research Consortium at 518-564-2020 or by e-mail at info@adkresearch.org. Details will also be posted on the ARC's webpage at adkresearch.org. The submission deadline is April 1, 2009. Please be sure to submit early and include your e-mail contact information!

Please share this announcement with colleagues and friends and encourage them to participate in this opportunity to promote science and research in the Adirondack Park!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

International climate change conference held in the Adirondacks

On June 24 and 25 over 175 people from the Adirondacks and around the world participated in an international conference on climate change at the Wild Center in Tupper Lake. Former ARC president Ross Whaley organized the meeting with co-chair Carter Bales. Topics ranged from carbon abatement strategies to itemizing likely consequences of climate change for the Adirondacks and beyond.

To learn more about the conference and opportunities for follow-up activities, visit the U.S. Climate Action web site at http://www.usclimateaction.org/.

For local coverage of the event, see the following article from the Plattsburgh Press Republican:

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The ARC Recognizes Dr. Elizabeth Thorndike

At the Adirondack Research Consortium’s 15th Annual Conference on the Adirondacks held this May 21-22, 2008 in Lake Placid, newly elected ARC President Bill Porter presented outgoing President Liz Thorndike with a plaque recognizing her hard work and dedication to furthering the mission of the organization.
While stepping down as President, Liz will continue to serve the ARC Board of Directors in an expanded role on the Partnership and Fund Development Committee.
Liz has served as ARC Vice President from 2003 to 2006 and as President from 2006-2008. She served for fifteen and a half years as a commissioner of the Adirondack Park Agency and seven years as a trustee of the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks. She is currently a board member of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). She has a PhD in the field of Natural Resource Policy and Planning from Cornell University where she is a Visiting Lecturer in the Department of City and Regional Planning.

The award presented to Liz reads as follows:

In Appreciation
Elizabeth Thorndike, Ph.D.

For your hard work and leadership as President of the Adirondack Research Consortium Board of Directors in guiding the organization to become a 501(c)3 not-for-profit, developing an ambitious strategic plan calling for long term organizational sustainability, encouraging growth and improvement in existing and new programs, raising substantial funds, and growing the partnership network in support all of these goals. Your personal commitment and leadership is an inspiration to all of us at The ARC, thank you Liz!

Adirondack Research Consortium
May 22, 2008

Dr. Gary Chilson Recognized

At the 15th Annual Conference on the Adirondacks, Adirondack Research Consortium (ARC) Board Member Gary Chilson was honored by the organization for his fourteen years of hard work and dedication in founding and serving as editor of the Adirondack Journal of Environmental Studies (AJES). Under Gary’s leadership, AJES has become a widely respected publication which has remained true to its search for common ground and spirit of open dialogue. The views and articles it contains, have remained inclusive with a broad perspective about important issues concerning the Adirondacks and Northern Forest.

In the photograph above, ARC President Liz Thorndike (seated farthest to the right) thanks Gary and presents him with a plaque memorializing his achievements and significant contributions to the ARC during the Annual Membership Meeting held at the Crowne Plaza Resort and Golf Club in Lake Placid on May 22, 2008. ARC Executive Director Dan Fitts, newly elected President Bill Porter, and Secretary/Treasurer Eileen Allen (left to right) join Liz in the presentation.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Reseach Notes: Two studies show plants shift to higher elevations when climate warms

Researchers from the University of Vermont and Yale University studied tree species distributions in the Green Mountains from 1962 to 2005 and found that the upper range of lower elevation hardwoods had moved 91 to 119 meters higher during the study period, corresponding to a rise in average temperature and precipitation. Abstract: Beckage et al. PNAS. March 18, 2008. 105(11): 4197-4202.

A more long-range study in the mountains of western Europe shows a similar result. BBC news reports that scientists studied distributions of 171 plant species between 1905 and 2005 and found that, on average, populations have relocated their optimum ranges 29 meters higher in elevation each decade in response to climate change. Abstract: Lenoir et al. Science. 27 June 2008. 320(5884): 1768-1771.

Research Notes: Emerald Ash Borer found in Quebec

The Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program sends word from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (similar to our USDA APHIS) that the emerald ash borer (EAB) insect has been found in the Montérégie region of Quebec bordering northern New York State. Humans are the number one vector for spreading EAB through transport of infested nursery stock, lumber, firewood and mulch. After infestation, the canopies of infested ash trees are dead within two years. USDA APHIS gives an excellent background on EAB in North America.

Research Notes: Content analysis and environmental dispute resolution

The use of content analysis - a popular tool among social scientists - is now being used in applied ecology to help in environmental dispute resolution. A June 18th article in Science Daily outlines "... how content analysis allows differences in focus between stakeholder groups to be highlighted in a quantitatively rigorous way, and that this can encourage a dialogue to develop in which all stakeholders are at least addressing the same issues." Researchers from the University of Sheffield and the University of York applied the technique to the analysis of controversial plans to manage introduced species in Scotland. Might this work have extensions in the Adirondacks?

The full article in Science Daily is available at:

Research Notes: New web-based forest threats tool

Earlier this year the USDA Forest Service launched a web-based tool for viewing forest threats and connecting to current forest health research throughout the eastern United States. Environmental threats to forests include insects, diseases, invasive plants, climate change, wildland fire, and loss of open space. The tool is accessible through the Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center. Also see a short article from the January 2 issue of Science Daily. The center also publishes the quarterly Forest ThreatNet newsletter.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Research Notes: Effects of acid rain on microorganisms in Adirondack Lakes

The June 27th issue of Science Daily reported on research at the Darrin Freshwater Institute of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on the effects of acid rain on microorganisms in Adirondack Lakes. According to the article,
The team found a general link between increased acidity and decreased bacterial diversity, but surprisingly, most of the dominant species of bacteria were not directly impacted by acidification. However, some rarer types of bacterial populations were significantly or strongly correlated to acidity, rising and falling with fluctuations in water pH. The findings could eventually allow scientists to use these bacteria as indicators of lake recovery, according to Sandra Nierzwicki-Bauer, director of the Darrin Fresh Water Institute and professor of biology.
The full article can be read at: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080623175401.htm. For more information on the research of the Darrin Freshwater Institute, see their web page at: www.rpi.edu/dept/DFWI/.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Next steps for Adirondack Journal of Environmental Studies

[The following editorial was published in the most recent issue of the Adirondack Journal of Environmental Studies, Vol. 14, No. 2, 2008]

Big Shoes, Next Steps

Jon D. Erickson

It was with appreciation and humility that I recently agreed to take on the role of executive editor of the Adirondack Journal of Environmental Studies. So many people from so many walks of life in the Adirondack region owe a debt of gratitude to Professor Gary Chilson for founding AJES, staying true to its search for common ground, and promoting dialogue around sustainable development through the window of the Adirondack experience. These are big shoes to fill, but ones I humbly accept because so much has been accomplished in the 15 short years since the creation of the Adirondack Research Consortium and its publication AJES, but also because so much more lays ahead.

The first issue of AJES in 1994 was published on the heels of turbulent political times in the Adirondacks. The journal and the research consortium helped to fill a void between entrenched positions along the preservation/development continuum by providing a neutral ground of sorts – shrouded in at least the spirit of academic objectivity – to share ideas and produce a body of research both emerging from and accountable to the region. The hope has been to publish both contemporary debates and peer-reviewed analysis across a broad range of issues and disciplines in a voice approachable by an audience larger than just typical academic circles. I’ve been fortunate to work with many people in the intervening years involved in planning and participating in annual conferences, writing and reviewing AJES articles, and building bridges between information producers and consumers. We’ve connected some dots, but much of the borderlands between discipline and perspective remain unexplored.

The opportunity nearly 15 years later is to continue to promote an arena for ground-truthing and fact-checking, aided by open minds and informed dialogue. AJES seeks to explore the nexus of environmental, social, and economic issues, and as such demands a transdisciplinary and participatory approach to inquiry. The world has problems but the academy has disciplines. More often than not they don’t overlap. The study of the Adirondack region, the larger Northern Forest, and similar biomes across the world requires an approach that transcends disciplinary boundaries and pushes for unified descriptions of human-dominated ecosystems from which management recommendations can emerge. And broad participation must not come only from credentialed expertise, but from all layers of society … citizen, scientist, and manager alike. As communities worldwide search for examples of genuine development – where economic activity doesn’t erode the very environmental foundation that makes life possible and worthwhile – the time is upon us to further open the lines of communication between the study of our means and the vocalization of our ends.

AJES can be that vehicle. We can hold on to the values and virtues of peer-review, while providing a forum for debate, shared understanding, and resolution. We can continue to merge disciplines through the study of place. We can extend the circle of those who speak with authority beyond academics speaking with other academics. And we can aide an ongoing, bottom-up process of visioning management objectives and clarifying decision alternatives.

But AJES can’t reach its full potential in print form, mailed to a fluctuating base of subscribers and publishing commentary and peer-reviewed analysis with a 6 to 12 month lag time. North Country communities are being pulled into the age of the internet (perhaps unwillingly for some), and so can AJES. The world of open-source learning is upon us, enabling faster review and publishing times, extending peer review to a broader group, extending avenues for commentary and feedback through web logged discussion, and creating active readers that can better shape research questions and target research results.

Gary Chilson (and too many colleagues to name) has built a foundation of disciplinary inclusion and broad perspective during the formative years of AJES and the Adirondack Research Consortium. The business of connecting information producers and consumers in real-time should be the next big step for AJES. In another 15 years time, let’s look back on the second generation of AJES with pride in having expanded the common ground still further. As we begin to plan for the next volume of AJES, I’d love to hear your thoughts about a move to an internet platform. I can be reached at jon.erickson@uvm.edu, or the old-fashioned way at 802-656-3328.

Friday, May 23, 2008

15th Annual Conference on the Adirondacks a Success

The Adirondack Research Consortium’s 15th Annual Conference on the Adirondacks was held May 21-22, 2008 at the Crowne Plaza Resort and Golf Club, in Lake Placid, NY. Lake Placid’s world class hospitality, combined with engaging conference speakers and presentations, and excellent networking opportunities, all contributed to a successful event. Nearly 150 attendees enjoyed a strong program focused on the “Future Sustainability of the Adirondack Park”. The final program and research paper and poster abstracts have been posted on the webpage.

The ARC is busy working on the program for the 16th Annual Conference on the Adirondacks, May 20-21, 2009. Please, mark your calendars! We welcome your thoughts and ideas in the planning process. Watch our web page as more conference planning information will follow in the months to come.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Adirondacks featured on PBS

The Adirondack Park was featured this spring in a PBS special that premiered May 14, 2008. The feature included many folks that have been involved with the Adirondack Research Consortium since its inception, including Phil Terrie, Bill McKibben, and former ARC president Michael Wilson. From the program summary on YouTube:
Sprawled across six million acres in upstate New York, the Adirondack Park is by far the largest park in the lower 48 states. Yet it is the only one on the continent in which large human populations live and whose land is divided almost evenly between protected wilderness and privately owned tracts. Through the varied perspectives of many passionate characters, this program explores the remarkable history, seasonal landscape, and current state of the Adirondacks.
For more information visit http://www.pbs.org/theadirondacks/. For a sneak peak, check out the YouTube trailer below.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Research Notes: Black bears and human conflict

Recent research by the Wildlife Conservation Society on the habituation of black bears with human food and garbage could have widespread management applications. A May 10th article in Science Daily highlights research that suggests that, "Bears that steal human food sources are just as likely to form these habits on their own or pick them up from unrelated, 'bad influence' bears." The article also refers to research in the Adirondacks on the decline in human-bear conflicts due to the increased use of bear-proof trash canisters.

To view the full article, see:

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Research Notes: Shifts in Adirondack winter deer yards

Research on winter deer yards in the Adirondacks was published in the February 2008 issue of the Journal of Wildlife Management by Jeremy Hurst and William Porter of SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Below is the abstract to the article, available at the website of the Wildlife Society.
In the Adirondack region of northern New York, USA, severe weather and deep snow typically force white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) to congregate in areas of dense coniferous cover and along watercourses at lower elevations. We examined 16 yards in the Adirondacks and explored the observation that deer have changed their movement behavior to incorporate residential communities within their wintering areas. We compared locations of deer herds in 2003 and 2004 to deer wintering areas mapped during the 1960s and 1970s. Deer were predominantly absent in 9 of 16 historical yards but were present in residential communities within the same drainage. Yarding areas to which deer shifted contained more residential, deciduous, and mixed cover than yards where no shift occurred, indicating that deer in residential areas were using conifer and mixed cover at a finer scale than deer in nonresidential areas. Smaller winter ranges and core areas of marked deer in a residential winter yard further imply greater concentration of resources available in these areas. Marked deer demonstrated flexibility in core winter range fidelity, a behavior that allows for more permanent shifts as habitat and food resources change or as new areas with appropriate resources are encountered. Our study suggests that low-density residential areas in lowland conifer forests may provide an energetic advantage for deer during winter due to the assemblage of quality habitat interspersed with open areas and a variety of potential food sources in environments where movement is typically constrained by deep snow. Managers should consider the potential for changes in use of deer wintering areas prior to land conservation efforts and may need to adapt management strategies to reduce conflicts in communities occupied by deer during winter.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Research Notes: Science-based tourism management

Using science to manage Northern Forest tourism and recreation
Kelly A. Goonan, Carena J. van Riper, Robert Manning, and Christopher Monz, University of Vermont

Outdoor recreation and tourism is a growing and important use of the Northern Forest— 26 million acres stretching from the Adirondack Mountains in northern New York to eastern Maine. Thousands of visitors are attracted to the region’s mountains each year. Ultimately, outdoor recreation must be sustainable to protect natural resources in the area and provide a high quality experience to visitors. Managing tourism and recreation in the Northern Forest in a sustainable manner will require informed decisions based on a strong scientific foundation. This calls for formulating indicators and standards of quality for natural resource conditions and the visitor experience. Indicators of quality are manageable, measurable variables that define the quality of natural resources and visitor experiences, and standards of quality define the minimum acceptable condition of indicator variables. The University of Vermont is conducting research to guide management of the Northern Forest for tourism and recreation. Once indicators and standards of quality are formulated, indicator variables will be monitored and appropriate management action can be taken to ensure that standards are maintained. This study will focus on four summits across the Northern Forest region, and data will be collected during the 2008 summer field season. A pilot study was conducted on CascadeMountain in New York during the summer of 2007. Data were collected on the summit area to assess resource and social conditions. These data will provide an initial framework from which additional summits will be examined in upcoming field seasons. This research is funded by a grant through the Northeast States Research Cooperative.

For more information, please visit www.uvm.edu/envnr/parkstudies and www.nsrcforest.org.

Research Notes: Lowland boreal bird habitat

Habitat associations of lowland boreal birds
Kevin Jablonski, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry

The lowland boreal habitats of the Adirondack Park are rare, poorly known, and threatened by climate change. They also harbor 13 bird species that are found few other places in New York State. The New York State Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy urges the creation of a long-term monitoring program for these birds yet little is known about their habitat preferences. I will conduct intensive research into the habitat associations of lowland boreal birds during the summers of 2008 and 2009. This research will provide essential recommendations to the Wildlife Conservation Society for the design of a monitoring program, as part of their ongoing work in the Adirondack boreal areas.

Research Notes: Wildlife impacts from exurban development

Understanding the impacts to wildlife from exurban development in the Adirondack Park
Michale Glennon, Wildlife Conservation Society
Heidi Kretser, Wildlife Conservation Society and Cornell University

Building on our past work to disseminate information on effects to wildlife populations from low density rural sprawl in the Adirondacks and elsewhere (http://www.wcs.org/adirondackresearch#Development), WCS’ Adirondack program is currently engaged in a number of projects to address the overall issue of exurban development and wildlife with on-the-ground field research. With funding from the National Science Foundation, Biodiversity Research Institute, and the Northeastern States Research Cooperative, we are exploring the effects of residential development on a variety of taxa in the Park. Two of these projects investigate the effects of existing development on wildlife populations. We are examining the differences in breeding bird community integrity between subdivisions and adjacent control areas, as well as working to identify what defines a “wildlife disturbance zone” in the Adirondacks – the area around a home in which wildlife habitat should be considered altered by the presence of a residential structure and the associated activities of its inhabitants. A third project explores changes to small mammal, bird, and carnivore communities before and after construction of single-family residences. Collectively, these projects will provide valuable information for local land use planning and provide suggestions for planners to implement projects in ways that will minimize negative impacts to wildlife.

If you happen to be building a house and would consider participating in our study, contact us! www.wcs.org/adirondacks; 518-891-8872.

Research Notes: Modeling Adirondack - Tug Hill connectivity

Modeling Adirondack – Tug Hill connectivity
Michelle Brown and others
Adirondack Nature Conservancy and Land Trust, Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust, Wildlife Conservation Society

Conservation work by the Nature Conservancy (TNC) and others has focused on securing core and buffer areas within the Adirondack Park and Tug Hill. However, the long-term viability of wide-ranging species inhabiting these regions will likely depend on maintaining connectivity across the intervening and relatively unprotected Black River Valley---where land conversion, second home development and transport infrastructure threaten to further fragment natural habitats. Through spatial connectivity modeling, we seek to identify areas that will maintain or increase landscape permeability for a suite of focal species including American marten, black bear, Canada lynx, cougar, moose, river otter, and scarlet tanager. Results will be used to guide land protection efforts to secure habitat stepping stones by TNC and others and will influence transportation planning and maintenance work to improve permeability of barriers. The spatial model and region-specific parameters will be useful in assessing connectivity potential within other areas surrounding the Adirondack Park (for example, the Saint Lawrence Valley).

Research Notes: Investment priorities in the Adirondack North Country

How would you invest your dollars in a sustainable future for the Northern Forest?
William Porter and Anne Woods, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
Jon Erickson, University of Vermont
Graham Cox, Audubon New York

In November 2006, at the Adirondack North Country Association’s annual meeting in Saranac Lake, researchers from SUNY ESF and UVM presented a summary of their focus group and opinion surveys to assess how people in the Adirondack/North Country would invest in a sustainable future for their communities. The summary of the results was published in the last edition of AJES. We are pleased to report that the ESF and UVM research team has been funded for the coming year by the Northeast States Research Cooperative (NSRC) to expand our survey to all four states in the Northern Forest – New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine – to ask 1,200 residents to express their opinions about a sustainable future. Saranac Lake consultants Holmes & Associates will work with the research team to conduct the telephone interviews, help analyze the results and compare them to the initial focus group and e-mail survey results reported in November 2006. In the initial project NSRC funded the research to ask two questions: if additional funds were available to invest in your community for a sustainable future, what would your priorities be? Second, would they get the same answers from local communities as they would get from a regional or statewide planning group? In short, the researchers set out to compare a ‘top down’ approach to setting priorities to a ‘bottom up’ approach. The intent of this expanded research project is two-fold: first, to use the survey results to help guide and influence future federal, state and private investment decisions at the community, state and regional levels; and second, have available a survey questionnaire and procedure that is replicable and repeatable, ready and adaptable for use and comparative purposes in any of the Northern Forest communities, state and regional segments.

For more information on this research see Adirondack Journal of Environmental Studies, Vol. 14, No. 1, 2007.

Research Notes: Measuring economic well-being

New measures of economic well-being for rural Vermont
Marta Ceroni, University of Vermont

The socioeconomic well-being of Vermont and the Northern Forest depends on the economic vitality of its communities as well as its natural resource wealth, social interactions, health and knowledge. Yet, classical measures of progress, such as the Gross Domestic Product, are based solely on economic growth, failing to measure what really matters to people. We used the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) to investigate the socioeconomic trends of six rural counties of Northern Vermont from 1950-2000 in a way that genuinely reflects the multiple dimensions of quality of life for the region and its communities. GPI in the most rural counties (Caledonia, Essex, Orleans) was below the U.S. average in 1950 but had risen above the national average by 2000. Rural counties had consistently lower crime rates, generated less solid waste, had less air, water, and noise pollution, and less loss of forest cover and wetlands but higher costs of underemployment. Such estimates can provide useful interregional comparisons of socioeconomic well-being.

For more information on this research see International Journal of Environment, Workplace and Employment, Vol. 3, No.2, pp. 132 - 153, 2007.

Research Notes: Old-growth riparian forests and stream habitats

Old-growth riparian forests and effects on stream habitats
William Keeton, University of Vermont
Clifford Kraft and Dana Warren, Cornell University

Riparian forests regulate linkages between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, yet relationships among riparian forest development, stand structure, and stream habitats are poorly understood in many temperate deciduous forest systems. Our research in the Adirondack Park has 1) described structural attributes associated with old-growth riparian forests; and 2) assessed linkages between these characteristics and in-stream habitat structure. Indicators included coarse woody debris, debris dams, plunge pools, and variations in canopy structure over stream channels. We sampled 29 sites along 1st and 2nd order stream reaches in Five Ponds Wilderness, Pigeon Lakes Wilderness, the Ampersand Mountain area of the High Peaks Wilderness, a private preserve in the southwestern Adirondacks, and the SUNY ESF Huntington Wildlife Forest. We are finding that old-growth riparian forest structure is more complex than that found in mature forests and exhibits significantly greater accumulations of aboveground tree biomass, both living and dead. Old-growth riparian forests provide in-stream habitat features that have not been widely recognized in eastern North America, representing a potential benefit from riparian forest management. Our research results suggest that riparian management practices – including buffer delineation and restorative silvicultural approaches – that emphasize development and maintenance of late-successional characteristics may be useful where the associated in-stream effects are desired.

For further information see Ecological Applications, 17(3), 2007, pp. 852–868.

Research Notes: Disturbance and biotic integrity

Quantifying the relationship between anthropogenic disturbance and biotic integrity in the Adirondack Park
Anne Woods, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry

This study investigates the response of biotic communities to anthropogenic disturbance in the Adirondack Park, and examines the relationship between land use and biotic integrity at the landscape scale. I developed an index of biotic integrity (IBI) for the Adirondack Park using data on bird guilds from the 2000-2005 New York State Breeding Bird Atlas (BBA). IBI was a better measure of biotic community condition than species richness, which was affected by sampling effort and responded non-linearly to disturbance. IBI was negatively related to development and open land covers and positively related to forest/wetland cover and elevation. IBI was predicted better by variables measured at the BBA block scale than larger scales. In the Adirondack Park, the biotic integrity of private lands used for natural resource management may be at risk of degradation from expanding development.

For more information on this research, please contact Anne Woods at the Adirondack Ecological Center.