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Beier C.M.,New York University | Beier C.M.,Adirondack Ecological Center | Woods A.M.,New York University | Woods A.M.,Adirondack Ecological Center | And 7 more authors.
Canadian Journal of Forest Research | Year: 2012

Depletion of Ca from forest soils due to acidic deposition has had potentially pervasive effects on forest communities, but these impacts remain largely unknown. Because snails, salamanders, and plants play essential roles in the Ca cycle of northern hardwood forests, we hypothesized that their community diversity, abundance, and structure would vary with differences in biotic Ca availability. To test this hypothesis, we sampled 12 upland hardwood forests representing a soil Ca gradient in the Adirondack Mountains, New York (USA), where chronic deposition has resulted in acidified soils but where areas of well-buffered soils remain Ca rich due to parent materials. Along the gradient of increasing soil [Ca2+], we observed increasing trends in snail community richness and abundance, live biomass of redback salamanders (Plethodon cinereus (Green, 1818)), and canopy tree basal area. Salamander communities were dominated by mountain dusky salamanders (Desmognathus ochrophaeus Cope, 1859) at Ca-poor sites and changed continuously along the Ca gradient to become dominated by redback salamanders at the Ca-rich sites. Several known calciphilic species of snails and plants were found only at the highest-Ca sites. Our results indicated that Ca availability, which is shaped by geology and acidic deposition inputs, influences northern hardwood forest ecosystems at multiple trophic levels, although the underlying mechanisms require further study.

Jablonski K.E.,SUNY ESF 244 Illick Hall | McNulty S.A.,Adirondack Ecological Center | Schlesinger M.D.,New York Natural Heritage Program
Wilson Journal of Ornithology | Year: 2010

Avian mapping, also known as spot mapping or territory mapping, is a breeding season bird-survey technique that traditionally uses paper maps on which locations of birds are recorded. This method is often considered the most accurate in yielding a density, but has been criticized as being inefficient, time consuming, and inexact. We describe a novel digital-mapping method, incorporating a hand-held computer and high-accuracy global positioning system receiver (GPS), used in an ongoing boreal birds study. Digital mapping surpassed our expectations as to efficiency, flexibility, and work flow. We expect this method will become increasingly useful in many types of field studies, especially as costs decrease (currently ∼$2,100 for the field receiver used). © 2010 by the Wilson Ornithological Society.

Beier C.M.,New York University | Beier C.M.,Adirondack Ecological Center | Stella J.C.,New York University | Dovciak M.,New York University | And 2 more authors.
Climatic Change | Year: 2012

Ecosystems in biogeographical transition zones, or ecotones, tend to be highly sensitive to climate and can provide early indications of future change. To evaluate recent climatic changes and their impacts in a boreal-temperate ecotone in eastern North America, we analyzed ice phenology records (1975-2007) for five lakes in the Adirondack Mountains of northern New York State. We observed rapidly decreasing trends of up to 21 days less ice cover, mostly due to later freeze-up and partially due to earlier break-up. To evaluate the local drivers of these lake ice changes, we modeled ice phenology based on local climate data, derived climatic predictors from the models, and evaluated trends in those predictors to determine which were responsible for observed changes in lake ice. November and December temperature and snow depth consistently predicted ice-in, and recent trends of warming and decreasing snow during these months were consistent with later ice formation. March and April temperature and snow depth consistently predicted ice-out, but the absence of trends in snow depth during these months, despite concurrent warming, resulted in much weaker trends for ice-out. Recent rates of warming in the Adirondacks are among the highest regionally, although with a different seasonality of changes (early winter & late winter) that is consistent with other lake ice records in the surrounding area. Projected future declines in snow cover could create positive feedbacks and accelerate current rates of ice loss due to warming. Climate sensitivity was greatest for the larger lakes in our study, including Wolf Lake, considered one of the most ecologically intact 'wilderness lakes' in eastern North America. Our study provides further evidence of climate sensitivity of the boreal-temperate ecotone of eastern North America and points to emergent conservation challenges posed by climate change in legally protected yet vulnerable landscapes like the Adirondack Park. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

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