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2016 Long Island Natural History Conference

March 18-19, 2016

CONTACT: Mike Bottini 631-267-5228

Calling All Naturalists!

Registration is open for the 2016 Long Island Natural History Conference to be held on Friday, March 18 and Saturday, March 19 at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, NY. The two-day event includes sixteen presentations by leading Long Island naturalists, conservationists, wildlife managers, educators, and research biologists who are working, directly or indirectly, to protect and restore Long Island’s natural resources and natural processes.

In terms of presentation topics, the overarching theme of this year’s conference revolves around our coastal resources: shellfish, fish, birds and subaquatic vegetation. NYSDEC biologist Chip Hamilton will give an overview and status report on the Long Island Colonial Water Bird Program, which includes breeding bird surveys of our local shorebirds such as egrets, herons, terns and plovers.

Ornithologist Helen Hays, Director of the Great Gull Island Project for the American Museum of Natural History, has been studying Common and Roseate Terns on the tiny island just east of its more well known neighbor, Plum Island, since 1969 and will share her conservation and natural history insights spanning nearly half a decade.

Another well known coastal and marine conservationist who earned a doctorate studying terns and resides in Amagansett just 12 miles due south of Great Gull Island, Dr. Carl Safina, will speak about his provocative new book, “Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel”.

TNC’s Carl Lobue and Adam Starke will present on their formidable task of restoring the Great South Bay’s shellfishery, while Jeffrey Kassner will discuss the history and ecology of that area’s famous Blue Point oyster resource.

Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Chris Pickerell will turn our attention to arguably the most important marine vegetation in our coastal waters – eelgrass – drawing on his thirty years of experience researching restoration and conservation methods to ensure this species remains here on Long Island.

Two of the coastal themes discuss perhaps two groups of our most intriguing fish. Greg Metzger, a marine science teacher at Southampton High School who has not only mentored many students into marine science careers but has also made quite a name for himself outside of the classroom in the marine science field as a scientist, will talk about Long Island’s sharks. Todd Gardner will follow that with his work documenting the fascinating stray tropical fish that are found here in the late summer and fall.

No discussion of our coastal natural resources would be complete without mention of global warming, and Stony Brook University’s Dr. David Black will be on hand to enlighten us on Long Island’s climate: past and future.

In the herpetology department we’ve lined up two interesting presentations. John Vanek will present his research on the Eastern Hog-nosed Snake, a fascinating creature of our dunes and pine barrens whose conservation status here in not well understood. Dr. Russ Burke from Hofstra will present on an unusual species who status here is much clearer: the Italian Wall Lizard.

We are very fortunate to have Dave Taft from the National Park Service onboard this year. Some of you may recognize his name from the NY Times nature column that he pens. Dave will talk about the survival strategies and unusual adaptations of Long Island’s overlooked, charismatic plants.

Speaking of plants, ecologist Lara Pomi-Urbat will address the widespread conservation issue posed by non-native, invasive species here, John Pavacic and John Wernet will discuss the recent invasion of L.I.’s pine barrens by the Southern Pine Beetle and Dr. William Powell of SUNY Syracuse will give us an update on his work with the American Chestnut, a tree that was once a major component of some of Long Island’s forests and was severely impacted by a non-native fungus. I’m hopeful that Dr. Powell’s trip and presentation will include a discussion of potential Long Island sites to re-establish healthy stands of chestnuts.

Sayville High School’s Maria Brown and Dr. Bruce Nash of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory are presenting an intriguing high school project involving DNA analyses in conjunction with one of Long Island’s most famous science labs.

Rounding out this year’s conference is a special session in science illustration. You might wonder: what does illustration have to do with natural history? Whether it be quick sketches in the field or detailed, meticulous illustrations at home with objects brought in from the field, drawing requires careful attention to detail and keen observation, both keen attributes of a good naturalist.

This is the fourth iteration of the Conference. Attendance is expected to exceed 300.

Please join us for one or both days of the conference. Registration is a bargain at $40 for the entire event and can be done at

Long Island Natural History Conference Sponsors

American Littoral Society - Avalon Park and Preserve - Brookhaven National Laboratory – Canio’s Books Central Pine Barrens Commission - Coastal Research and Education Society of Long Island

Cold Spring Harbor Fish Hatchery & Aquarium - Concerned Citizens of Montauk - Defend H2O

Concerned Long Island Mountain Bicyclists - Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County

East End Eco-Ventures - East Hampton Trails Preservation Society - Four Harbors Audubon Society Friends of the Bay - Friends of the Long Pond Greenbelt - Group for the East End - Friends of Wertheim

Harbor Publishing - Huntington-Oyster Bay Audubon Society - The Luss Insurance Group

Long Island Greenbelt Trails Conference - Long Island Pine Barrens Society - Long Island Sierra Club Nelson, Pope & Voorhis - North Shore Audubon Society - North Shore Land Alliance - Peconic Land Trust Perfect Earth Project - Quality Parks - Queens County Bird Club - Quogue Wildlife Refuge

Seatuck Environmental Association - Southampton Trails Preservation Society - Surfrider Foundation

South Fork Natural History Museum - South Shore Audubon Society - The Nature Conservancy