High Resolution Habitat Map of the Port Washington Peninsula
High Resolution Wetland Habitat Map of the Port Washington Peninsula
True Color Aerial Photograph of the Port Washington Peninsula (2010)
Infrared Aerial Photograph of the Port Washington Peninsula (2004)
General Study Area Location on Long Island
I am conducting a biodiversity assessment of the Port Washington peninsula, to learn more about the area’s flora and fauna, to help protect them, and to develop opportunities for environmental education. Some of my most exciting moments have been enjoyed here after crawling underneath remote forests of thorny and poisonous plants to places where no person has visited in decades, and finding habitats such as vernal pools, gushing artesian springs, and beaver!
The habitat map that I have developed above is the first step of my
Biodiversity Assessment of the Port Washington Peninsula— a necessary step in identifying the communities of flora and fauna so that we may learn more
about them. The map also serves as a field guide for study of flora
and fauna in the forests, swamps, streams, marshes, meadows, lakes,
vernal pools, beaches, waste places, and private backyards. Encompassing fifty square kilometers, countless habitats, and hundreds of unclocked
man-hours, the habitat map is a master-piece. Copies of the map will
be made available at the local public library and science museums.
I have been conducting this work in my capacity as an
environmental analyst and field biologist with PW Green, a
non-profit organization based in Port Washington that shares a mission
consistent with this biodiversity assessment: to protect biodiversity
and provide environmental education for Port Washington and
surrounding areas. For those of you who don’t know where Port
Washington is, it is the second peninsula east of Little Neck, about
12 miles east of Flushing, Queens.
I will be presenting this biodiversity assessment as the key-note
speaker at PW Green’s annual meeting on November 27th (Tuesday at
7:30P.M. in the Hagedorn room of the Port Washington Library). In the summer of 2013 I anticipate to publish a Natural History of Port Washington.
The model for this biodiversity assessment was the habitat scheme
developed by New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation
in concert with Hudsonia Ltd.’s Biodiversity Resources Center.
Hudsonia Ltd. is a non-profit dedicated to protecting biodiversity in
the Hudson Valley. I learned to conduct biodiversity assessments from
Hudsonia Ltd. and published a paper in 2008 on Habitat Mapping and
Remote Sensing for Rare, Endangered, and Sensitive Species in the
Hudson Valley, NY in the Journal of the Middle States Division of
Using Quantum Geographic Information Systems software, the detailed
habitat map of the study area was manually “heads-up digitized,” a
process by which different habitats are overlaid on top of a
combination of aerial infrared and true color photographs, soil maps,
geology maps, and elevation contours of the study area. Historic and
recent imagery was obtained from Google Earth and used as a
My mapping includes small habitats such as wet meadows, intermittent
woodland pools, and intermittent streams. An effort is being made to
map small habitats in highly developed areas that serve as oases of
biodiversity for the surrounding community. I have become familiar
with the study area by making frequent visits with maps in hand, using
binoculars to see inaccessible habitats, and taking pictures to
document them. During the field verification phase of the biodiversity
assessment, I visited dozens of habitats of less than one acre to
greater than 250 acres in size and conducted biodiversity analysis.
Biological diversity, or biodiversity, refers to the varieties of
life forms or the web of life. It encompasses ecosystems, communities,
individual species, and the genetic variations of individual
organisms. The importance of biodiversity in the environment has come
to be widely accepted over the last three decades. Biodiversity has
been recognized as an indicator of ecosystem health, a reservoir for
agricultural variety, a source of medicines, a supporter of watershed
quality, a mediator against human disease and disease vectors, and an
aesthetic and recreational resource.
This biodiversity assessment takes a systematic and broad approach to
understanding the relationship of humans with flora and fauna within
the study area; it has many components including research, networking,
outreach and collaboration, mapping of habitats by use of aerial
photographs and other resources, and field-study of flora, fauna,
habitats, hydrology, and human interconnections.
The mosaic of a well-classified habitat map is the best tool for
describing, understanding, and predicting patterns of biodiversity.
Many questions also arise from a habitat map. A look at a habitat map
shows the distribution of habitats, their interconnections,
divisiveness and fragmentation, geography, geometry, relative rarity,
proximity to human development or disturbance, and trends that may
help predict what habitats will look like in the future.
Habitat mapping in a biodiversity assessment is followed by field
work. During field work the habitat map is ground-truthed (where
habitats that are difficult to identify remotely are visited on the
ground for verification). Many different subject matters are studied
in the field. These include understanding how geology and hydrology
affect different habitats; identifying of typical, unusual, or rare
flora and fauna; noting the diversity and prevalence of native,
non-native and invasive species; ascertaining rare species based on
knowledge of their preferred habitat types; and identifying threats to
particular habitats. Many questions arise in the field and some
habitats need to be revisited during different seasons to get a fuller
sense of their biodiversity.
In phase two of this project, the biodiversity assessment will be followed
by recommendations on environmental protection, the preparation and
presentation of pertinent reports, and recommendations for future
studies. This biodiversity assessment report should be published in
the summer of 2013.
Biodiversity assessment is a tool to help people take initiatives
that will protect the environment. Recommendations from the
biodiversity assessment are geared towards all sectors of the public,
including homeowners, businesses, environmental organizations, and the
government. A biodiversity assessment also serves as a resource for
those interested in exploring nature, discovering new places, and
learning about the geology, flora, and fauna of an area.
The study area encompasses the Port Washington peninsula north of the
Long Island Expressway and also parts of Manhasset and Roslyn,
skirting along the mouths of the Manhasset and Hempstead Harbor Bays.
The inter-municipal study area was chosen for its high degree of
biodiversity, for the great local appreciation of biodiversity and
desire for its protection, for its many diverse, under-studied, and
unknown habitats, and for geographical continuity.