||Rockaway Beach Arverne
Shorebird Preserve -
Listed By Borough
Listed By Ecosystem
Bayside Acacia Cemetery
Central Park's North End
East River Oyster Beds
Fresh Creek Marshland
Harlem River Yards
Inwood Marsh & Nature Center
Manhattan Marsh Re-creation
Manhattan Maritime Holly Forest
Northern Manhattan Forests
Operation Renovo Gardens
Time Capsule NYC
West Harlem Marshlands
Restoration Plan: Arverne
Shorebird Preserve and
Katie May Laumann
Population genetics are important to consider for this restoration project, especially because several of the species involved are endangered and currently have small populations. Genetic diversity is the “basis for adaptation of orgs to changing environments” and “is linked strongly to life history traits, particularly dispersal and reprod mode.” Genetic diversity tends to be low in small populations and in species like Seabeach Amaranth that self fertilize and disperse widely; this is because there is “less gene flow among populations of species that self fertilize.” In some ways, this might make reintroduction of a species simpler; the worry that individuals from a certain area will not be well adapted to the introduction area is reduced if all populations are genetically similar. (Falk et al. 2006).
According to Noss and Cooperrider, a metapopulation is “a set of partially isolated populations belonging to the same species” that can “exchange individuals and recolonize sites in which the species has recently become extinct” (1994). Because plovers disperse to various beaches during breeding season and amaranth disperses widely and is extirpated frequently based on habitat suitability, metapopulation theory applies to this project. According to theory, a minimum viable metapopulation (mvm) size consists of a “minimum number of interacting local populations necessary for long-term persistence of a metapopulation.” This minimum number, typically between 15 and 20 well connected patches, will cause “balance between local extinctions and recolonization,” allowing the metapopulation to persist. Unfortunately, “many rare and endangered species…fall below mvm size.” Restoration efforts can “tip the scales toward greater metapopulation persistence by repeatedly collecting and introducing new individuals and by modifying the habitat to increase likelihood of survival.” This restoration project will focus on modifying habitat. (Maschinski 2006 in Foundations of Restoration Ecology).
Habitat modification will be the first step in restoration of the ecosystem and community structure relied upon by and affected by the focal species of this project. “Community structure includes species composition and diversity” as well as species abundance. Communities are composed of core and satellite species. Core species are the most abundant while satellite species are “less freq and less abundant” (Menninger and Palmer). The main species considered in this project could be considered satellite species, as they are “less likely to colonize and more likely to go extinct in patches.” This could make restoration and recovery of these species difficult. In addition to community structure and processes of this community, “ocean-shore interactions” must be considered. This is because in this community spatial boundaries “have been blurred” and “prey, energy, or detritus” from the ocean habitat “subsidizes the community of” the terrestrial shore habitat; shorebirds that utilize the beach consume fish and small shellfish (Menninger and Palmer 2006 in Foundations of Restoration Ecology). Conditions in one habitat could affect conditions in the other. Ideally the processes and functioning of this ecosystem will be restored as the community is restored (Naeem 2006 in Foundations of Restoration Ecology).
In restoring habitat for critical species, ecophysiological constraints must be taken into account. If constraints are not considered risk of failure of the species in question and of the restoration is high. All organisms have ecophysiological constraints; in plants these constraints manifest in “capacities to tolerate biotic and abiotic stressors.” “Two basic ecophysiological themes that relate to capacity [of plants] to become reestablished” are light and energy levels and water and nutrient levels. Water availability becomes a problem for amaranth when other plants colonize an area; amaranth is a poor competitor, and loses when there is “competition for water by neighboring plants.” While “water limitation…is… prevalent as a stress” for amaranth, other stressors common to plants- like disturbance and salt- are not a problem (Ehleringer and Sandquist 2006 in Foundations of Restoration Ecology). Just as plants have ecophysiological constraint, the shorebirds being managed for have environmental constraints. Constraints on shorebirds include availability of suitable nesting habitat, suitable foraging habitat, and prey density. For example, for nesting piping plovers require a minimum width beach with a low slope. They also require wrack for foraging. If their environmental requirements are not met a shorebird species will either not colonize and persist in an area or will colonize unsuccessfully.
As mentioned, presence of other plants makes survival for amaranth difficult. These other plants could be considered ‘invasive’ in that they “interfere with maintenance of particular vegetation types by outcompeteing more desired species [and] threatening the persistence of rare species.” Ideally, after a disturbance this community would be resilient and “return to predisturbance conditions … within a reasonable time frame following a disturbance without large scale human intervention” (D’Antonio and Chambers 2006 in Foundations of Restortaion Ecology). This resilience would enable the community to withstand invasion or succession of other plants. Unfortunately, the most desired plant species in this community, sea beach amaranth, is intolerant of competition and so colonization of other plant, invasive or native, is often accompanied by extirpation of amaranth. This may be one of the biggest challenges this restoration project will encounter. Invasive or introduced species problems are not isolated to plants. Specifically in this project, the large population of predators on plovers and other shorebirds must be contended with.
Sea beach amaranth is “self-fertile, often showing extensive selfing” (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1996). Seeds are dispersed by water and wind, and long-distance dispersal “takes place primarily during storm events such as fall hurricanes and winter northeasters.” It has been suggested that amaranth, which is often “wholly…buried by winter sand movement” might retain some non-dispersed seeds that become buried with the parent plant and recolonize the area during favorable conditions. Seeds are thought to survive in their dormant state for long periods of time and only germinate and grow when conditions are favorable. These reproductive and dispersal strategies often result in many genetically similar local populations within each amaranth metapopulation, and may even result in similar genetic structure among all amaranth metapopulations (Falk et al. 2006).
Amaranth is extremely sensitive to competition and tends to dies out during succession as perennial species take root and monopolize water and critical limiting nutrients (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1996). Also, amaranth is generally severely handicapped by human disturbance; often pedestrians will step on Amaranth or drive over it where off-road vehicles are allowed. To prevent this, during growing and flowering season all plants outside of the restricted area will be roped off with symbolic string. Plants within the restricted area need not be roped off; people are already excluded from the area so they cannot negatively affect the plants.
Because Amaranth cannot successfully compete with other
perennials that monopolize water supply and critical nutrients (U.S.
Wildlife Service. 1996), a
favoring amaranth would ideally prevent establishment of these plants. Amaranth has been somewhat tolerant of off
road vehicle use of its habitat between December and May in
In addition to the above habitat modifications, the amaranth
Webworm herbivory is also a threat
Amaranth. Five species of webworms
(small moth caterpillars) have been known to infest sea beach amaranth. Four species are common to populations in the
The reason for restricting use of BT in this area is to
benthic organisms it could potentially damage in the neighboring ocean
habitat. This is of great concern
because, as is common in ocean-shore communities, resources from the
of “one habitat (the ocean) subsidize the community of”
the other (the shore community) (Menninger and Palmer, 2006). Piping plovers consume small invertebrates
including marine worms, insects, crustaceans, and mollusks. Because one component of their diet is marine organisms, it
is important to
the survival of plovers that the ocean habitat is maintained. A well-functioning ocean habitat is similarly important to the least tern
Other threats to prey
species in the restoration
area must be considered and prevented.
In 1998 sewage runoff into
seawater occurred in
such great amounts that beaches were closed. The
‘Enhanced Beach Protection Program’ established in the same year
more vigilant monitoring and more frequent maintenance actions for
sewage treatment facilities (Ryan). This
program seems to have been effective; a Harbor
Water Quality Survey conducted in 1999 found that fecal coliform
bacteria levels in the water had dropped to below100 cells per 100 mL. Levels had
previously reached as high as 300 cells per 100 mL. Monitoring of sewage treatment facilities
should continue and efforts to improve the sewage system will be
the negative effects of another sewage runoff event could be
devastating to the
Improving prey resources is just one part of improving
are endangered migratory
shorebirds that breed on Atlantic Beaches from
A study of a Westhampton Island (off of Long
breeding piping plover population conducted between 2000 and 2005 found
site fidelity to be .83. Other studies
have found site fidelity among piping plovers to be .72 and .99 (Cohen et al., 2006). These three
figures indicate high breeding
site fidelity among piping plovers. Cohen et al. suggest that
piping plovers “may disperse when habitat quality is poor or declining.” This means that high site fidelity is
exhibited when habitat conditions are acceptable and as such can be
used as a
measure of success for the restoration of
Increasing the suitability of the
of plovers from other populations will increase
genetic exchange among piping plovers. In
1993, the breeding population at
Several main problems must be addressed in
For nesting piping plovers require a beach
at least thirty
meters wide with a slope of less than eight percent (Fraser and Cohen). Beaches must be sparsely vegetated, as
plovers scrape their nests in bare sand. Moist substrate habitat is
need intertidal areas with possibility of shallow tide pools for
foraging. Wrack- washed up seaweed, terrestrial plants, and
dead shellfish- is also beneficial to foraging. A great
foraging habitat will lead to a higher density of nesting plovers,
growth, and better survival.
Human disturbance constitutes a threat to piping plovers. Detrimental human disturbances range from beach stabilization to stepping on nests. According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife, beach stabilization can have adverse effects on Piping Plovers. Additionally, human “recreational disturbance may lower reproductive success” (Cohen et al., 2006). Thirteen blocks of beach are closed to humans during piping plover nesting season, but the entire 13 blocks is not really usable to piping plovers. “Plovers are easily disturbed” and mere nearness to people can stress them (Cape Lookout National Seashore). This restoration plan calls for restriction of more than 13 blocks to people during nesting season. 19 blocks will be closed off, 3 on either side of the current preserve, creating a buffer zone between the area available to people and the area used for nesting. Ideally, plovers will expand beyond the 13 blocks they have previously used for nesting and utilize the entire 19 blocks.
Dogs are another threat introduced to
humans. Unleashed dogs may enter the
nesting area and trample plover nests or frighten adult plovers, who
“abandon nests and chicks if they feel threatened” (Cape Lookout
Seashore), leaving them vulnerable to predators. Therefore,
extremely important, and, according to metapopulation dynamics, even
changes in egg survival and hatching can result in “different estimates
extinction risk.”(Falk et al.,
2006) If young plovers do not survive to leave the breeding
the population decline will continue to extinction. Survival
The predator problem is exacerbated by people. Garbage left on the beach provides food for predators and has allowed their populations to grow, increasing predatory risk to piping plovers and other shorebirds. Better trash management would combat this and would hopefully lower the population sizes of feral cat, gulls, and raccoons. Relatively simple solutions that will be implemented are fining for littering, posting signs discouraging against littering, providing more garbage receptacles on the beach, holding volunteer beach cleanups, and requiring all garbage receptacles in the Rockaway Beach area to be covered with lids.
must be used to
control predation on plover hatchlings. Predator
prevent the main
predators of plovers- gulls, raccoons, feral cats, and foxes- from
successfully on plovers. Predator exclosures
are built around nests to keep eggs and young from being consumed by
predators. These exclosures are
effective until hatchlings are able to leave the nest. At
that point, they become highly vulnerable
predators. Some studies have implemented mammal trapping
programs to reduce predator populations (Lauro
and Tanacredi, 2002). These
programs have been
effective and will be considered for this site in the future.
While implementing these new plans in the Rockaway Beach Arverne Shorebird Preserve, monitoring of plovers from a distance, three days a week should be occur and records of the number of plovers present, number of nesting pairs, and number of eggs per clutch should be kept. To track genetic variability, if at all possible, distinguishing marks should be noted on birds nesting at the restoration site. Birds present should be observed (from a distance) and taken note of each breeding season, as well as their success in breeding, and if their hatchlings survive to leave the nesting ground.
preliminary measures of
the plan, previously stated, have been put into effect, an after school
for interested children should begin. This
program will be designed to educate children about
and Sea Beach Amaranth and will teach them the value of preserving
nature. Children will accompany Urban Park
Plover Observations, will aid in putting symbolic fences around sea
amaranth, and will help with beach cleanups.
will, of course, contribute to the protection and survival of the focal
endangered species: Piping Plovers, Sea Beach Amaranth, and Least Terns. There are also benefits to humans. The after school program will benefit
children by educating them about environmental issues and endangered
conservation. Beach cleanups will result
in a cleaner beach for people to enjoy. Additionally,
some species of Amaranth are being
experimented with as a
food crop. If this species of Amaranth
increases enough it too may be experimented with for food (New Jersey
Department of Environmental Protection). This
plan is beneficial to people and the
Restoration of this area will not be considered complete until:
1. Sea Beach Amaranth occupies the area for 10 consecutive years; this time period is the criteria for recovery in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s ‘Recovery Plan for Sea Beach Amaranth.’
2. The Atlantic Coast Piping Plover Population has reached 2000 mating pairs, the recovery goal listed by Cohen, Fraser, and Catlin in ‘Survival and site fidelity of Piping Plovers on Long Island, New York’.
Restoration of Rockaway Beach will likely require more than 10 years of dedicated work, depending on how quickly Piping Plover and Sea Beach Amaranth populations increase.
The following estimated man-hours and budget represent amounts of time and money not already being spent by NYC Urban Park Ranger efforts at Arverne Shorebird Preserve.
1. Write to The Maryland Natural Heritage Program to obtain Sea Beach Amaranth genetic isozyme analysis test results. (2 hours to compose and send letter)
2. Write a letter to the NYC Department of Environmental Protection and to NYC Waste Management to encourage pursuit of a better sewage system. (5 hours to compose and send letter)
3. Begin bi-monthly volunteer beach cleanups. Cleanups will occur in seasonally restricted areas from December to March, and in unrestricted areas year round.
4. Set new garbage cans with caps in convenient areas on the beach, post ‘No Littering’ signs. (12 hrs)
About 19 additional hours
5. Identify the nearest and largest population of Amaranth, obtain permission to collect seeds, collect and store seeds during growing season, plant the following year (in February). One park ranger will scout areas bi-weekly and collect seeds once any necessary permission has been obtained. (10 hours per month for 3 months)
6. Post signs about and enforce a Dog Leash Rule from March to September
(2 hours posting signs)
7. Increase Arverne current restricted 13 blocks to 19 blocks March-Sept
8. Construct symbolic fences around Sea Beach Amaranth individuals (30 hours)
About 62 additional hours
9. Begin allowing Park Rangers to drive on the beach between December and beginning of March
10. Obtain water quality test results from the New York City Department of Environmental Protection when they become available (4 hours to obtain and read results)
About 4 additional hours
Total Additional hours Year 1: 85 hours + 15 unexpected hours = 100 NYC Urban Park Ranger hours additional to already ongoing work at Arverne.
Each additional year
11. Continue items 1-10
12. Begin after school program; program will meet 1 day per week every week except for holidays. (5 hrs per week preparing, running, and cleaning up after program) 240 hours + 96 unexpected hours = 336 additional hours
Hours for 1st 5 years:
Yearly 100 hours for 5 years = 500 hours + 336 hours for after school program =
886 hours beyond what is already being done at the Arverne Shorebird Preserve.
Item 3 on timeline: $100 for garbage bags
Item 4 on timeline: $1500 for 10 new garbage cans, $220 for 10 ‘No Littering’ signs
Item 6 on timeline: $220 for 10 ‘Dogs Must Be On Leash’ signs
Item 8 on timeline: $310 for 100 stakes and 2400 feet rope for symbolic fences
Total Budget, year 1: $2,350
Item 3 on timeline: $100 for garbage bags (yearly) total: $300
Item 8 on timeline: $310 for stakes and rope for symbolic fences (yearly) total: $930
Item 4 on timeline: $750 for 5 additional/replacement garbage cans (years 2 and 4)
Total Budget, years 2-4: 2,730
Item 3 on timeline: $100 for garbage bags
Item 8 on timeline: $310 for stakes and rope for symbolic fences
Item 12 on timeline: $24,000 for one new employee to run after school program
Total Budget, year 5: 24,410
Other Possible Costs:
Possibilities: new predator exclosures, need for BT and more
TOTAL BUDGET YEARS 1-5: $39,490
Pesticide Information Profiles. June 1996. E X T O X N E
Cohen, Jonathan. 2005. Factors Limiting Piping Plover Nesting
and Reproductive Output on
and Catlin. "Survival
and site fidelity of Piping Plovers on
D’Antonio and Chambers. “Using
Ecological Theory to
Manage or Restore Ecosystems Affected by Invasive Plant Species.”
Foundations of Restoration Ecology.
Donald A., Palmer, Margaret A., Zedler,
Dowhan, Joseph. "
Significant Habitats and Habitat Complexes of the
Ehleringer and Sandquist. “Ecophysiological
Constraints on Plant Responses in a Restoration Setting.” Foundations of Restoration Ecology.
Donald A., Palmer, Margaret A., Zedler,
Falk, Richards, Montalvo, Knapp. “Population and Ecological Genetics in Restoration
Ecology.” Foundations of Restoration
Falk, Donald A., Palmer, Margaret A., Zedler,
Francis-Floyd, Ruth. "Dissolved
Oxygen for Fish Production." Sept 1992.
Fraser and Cohen. " Piping Plover habitat considerations for beach nourishment project designs." Powerpoint Presentation. < http://el.erdc.usace.army.mil/workshops/05oct-dots/s5-Fraser-Cohen.pdf>
Hoffmann, M.P. and Frodsham,
A.C. (1993) Natural Enemies of Vegetable Insect Pests.
Lauro B., J. Tanacredi.
2002. An examination of predatory pressures on Piping Plovers nesting
"Least Tern." Life History. Migratory
Maschinski. “Implications of
Population Dynamics and
Metapopulation Theory for Restoration.” Foundations
of Restoration Ecology. Editors: Falk, Donald A., Palmer,
A., Zedler, Joy B.
Menninger and Palmer. “Restoring
Ecological Communities: From Theory to Practice.” Foundations
of Restoration Ecology. Editors: Falk, Donald A., Palmer,
A., Zedler, Joy B.
Naeem. “Biodiversity and Ecosystem
Restored Ecosystems: Extracting Principles for a Synthetic
Perspective.” Foundations of Restoration Ecology.
Donald A., Palmer, Margaret A., Zedler,
Department of Environmental Protection; Division of
Parks and Forestry. Endangered Plants of
Noss, Reed and Cooperrider,
and Restoring Biodiversity .
waters bright waters." History. The Wave.
Ryan, Geoff. "
" Tidal Water and Habitat Quality Monitoring."