The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, July 14, 2000


Carlisleans check out biodiversity

On June 9, 10 and 11, thirty-three Carlisleansadults and kidstramped over hill, dale and wetlands and observed and identified 389 species of plants and animals. Some of the observations were made in organized groups on the Towle Land, Cranberry Bog and Great Brook Farm State Park, and other sightings were from backyards and other areas in town. Participants ranged in experience from experts to casual naturalists to newcomers at observing natural history.

The participants learned that spending an hour or two looking carefully at nearly everything in a specific area enabled the observer to discover how much wildlife is there if you look carefully. One member of the Cranberry Bog trip said several days later, "I can still see the image of that magnificent Phantom Crane Fly." Instead of just seeing "ferns," the observers noted at least 13 different kinds of ferns. As JoRita Jordan, who was the group leader at the Towle Land, said in her Forum article (Mosquito, June 9), "There is no better way to appreciate the intricate web of life...than to bend down and inspect what's growing (or crawling) at your feet."

Tom Brownrigg, who led the the state park walk, along with his wife D'Ann, said that one of the highlights for him was seeing the shallow waters near the Pine Point loop trail boiling with tadpoles. These were thought to be American Toad tadpoles, a favorite species he hopes is making a comeback. A large Snapping Turtle in the sand at the Cranberry Bog drew a crowd of excited observers. The children on the group trips proved to be excellent observers and by far the best at netting dragonflies and scooping up pondlife.

Ken Harte, who coordinated the event and compiled the observations, said he was surprised and encouraged by both the participation and the results. "This snapshot of mid-June biodiversity in Carlisle," said Harte, "reflects not only the healthy state of our local ecosystems, but also the breadth and depth of our local natural history expertise."

The final count of 234 fungi and flora, and 155 fauna included dog, dog tick and dogbane, as well as turtles, snakes, insects, slime molds, mushrooms, wild flowers and trees. The high counts of fauna were 67 species of birds, 21 butterflies and moths (most identified by Dave Stickler) and 16 species of dragonflies and damselflies. Ten types of fungi were identified (mostly by Bonnie and Gabor Miskolczy), and 192 species of flowering plants were recorded. Species poorly represented, mainly because there were no experts, were lichens, grasses, spiders, ants and wasps.

The Citizens Biodiversity Weekend was sponsored by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs, along with many other state and private conservation groups. One of the main goals was to enhance people's awareness of the diversity of life in their towns, and also to learn to care about this diversity and the habitats needed to preserve it.

Another goal of the weekend was to encourage towns to keep records of sightings. Carlisle has already started a plant and wildlife survey. New sightings are always welcome and encouraged. Send details of sightings (include name, where seen, descriptione.g. in bloom, seen at night) to or mail to Betsy Fell, 21 Patten Lane, Carlisle.

2000 The Carlisle Mosquito