The Museum has partnered with the New York Natural Heritage Program (NYNHP) to build on the efforts of the Yale interns in 2016 and prepare a ‘wall-to-wall ecological community map’ of Museum sanctuary areas, which now extend over approximately 350 acres from Stony Beach on the extreme west end to the Wicopesset Channel on the east end and in two places transect the island from Block Island Sound to Fishers Island Sound. As part of this study, NYNHP will inventory various types of habitat, and botanical and zoological species, focusing particularly on rare species of flora and fauna.
With respect to fauna, island birds are considered to be well-documented, but NYNHP will use acoustic detectors to search for rare bats, and will seek to document mice, voles, turtles, frogs and other amphibians, as well as insects.
With respect to flora, rare plants will be sought, and findings will be entered into systems where they can be easily accessed and used to evaluate the status of species and trends. The Museum will make these results available to all interested parties, except to the extent necessary to protect rare plants. Of particular relevance to ongoing stewardship efforts will be a survey of new and existing invasive plant species that threaten rare plants. Like many islands, Fishers is rife with invasive plants, both native (Bullbrier and Trumpet Honeysuckle) and “exotic” (Japanese Knotweed, Oriental Bittersweet, Japanese Honeysuckle, and Glossy Buckthorn). Some are so prevalent that it is hard to imagine what would be growing on our properties without them. They are a concern on which both the Museum and the Fishers Island Conservancy have been focused. This study will help us understand the particular threats that various invasive plants pose, and inform us in attempting to develop targeted control strategies.