Research and monitoring the land has been done since the beginning!
Learn all about the vital research being done at MNP!
There are over 30 acres of wetlands at MNP! Staff throw mesh traps into the ponds for a few weeks during the summer. The main focus is to determine the absence or presence of salamander larvae in each of the ponds. Staff will also determine the health of the pond by the other organisms that they find. Knowing the health of the pond will determine how our restoration efforts are affecting the land!
Insects play a vital role in the ecosystem. Staff monitoring which butterfly, moth, bee, and odonate species call MNP home. The presence of certain species can also determine if certain species of plants are here. Many insects only prefer to eat and lay their eggs on certain plant species.
With the help of birders, MNP also carefully monitors all the bird species that have taken residence here. Over the years, more and more bird species have called MNP home. There are now over 200 bird species that have been spotted at MNP!
Students and Monitoring
Students of all ages aide in our monitoring efforts! Field trips, such as our wetland related ones, get students in the research mode. Students are able to get their hands dirty and use nets to find what is living in our ponds.
Staff use a variety of tools to carry out research efforts. From the pond and butterfly nets, to the water testing probes, to even our furry-friend Tilia, we need all the help we can get!
Volunteers also play a vital role in carrying out the research efforts! Volunteers can aide in Bluebird monitoring, snake monitoring, flora monitoring, and insect monitoring. Talk to a staff member if you are interested in helping us out!
Monitoring at MNP
Listen to Executive Director Kristin Gies and Ecological Restoration Manager Nick Gall explain how monitoring has been done at MNP over the years and why it is so important!
Results from 2021:
Our 2021 odonate (dragonfly/damselfly) survey came back with very exciting results. Four new species of odonates previously not recorded at MNP were found inhabiting our wetlands, prairies, and woods. Two being dragonflies, The Carolina saddlebag, and common baskettail, which is also our first ever from the Emerald family Corduliidae. We were also fortunate enough to find two new damselfies, the sweetflag spreadwing and American rubyspot. The rubyspot is our second broadwing damselfly species to be recorded at MNP. Until this year our only broadwing was the ebony jewelwing. Included is the phenogram showing what months brought us which species. Being impressive migrators, the common green darners continue to be some of the first species to arrive at MNP and last to leave it. (Species with a 1 indicates only one individual was spotted that season).
Monitioring bird populations and species sightings at MNP gives restoration staff insight on the success of the restoration work that is being done. The graph above is a total bird species count for the preserve going back to 2006, when restoration began. The graph also shows yearly species counts. The overall upward trend is a good sign, indicating that the restoration of the property is providing resources for these species to persist. These data are take from the eBird app. The eBird app uses citizen scientist to gather bird sightings at particular locations. If you are interested in helping monitor the bird species at MNP, we suggest downloading the eBird app on your mobile device and using it while you hike around the preserve!
MNP Staff, interns and volunteers help monitor the wetland health throughout the preserve. We use catch device known as a funnel trap which uses inward-facing funnels to allow insects and amphibian species that might be living in the wetlands to enter the trap, but once inside they can not get out until a staff member checks and opens the trap. MNP staff then identify and count species present in the trap which gives managers an insight to the diversity of animal life in the wetlands. The above graph tells an interesting story of diversity of macroinvertebrates and amphibians within our wetland system. Pat’s Pond (orange line) shows the highest amount of diversity when compared to the other wetlands. This is likely do to the fact that Pats Pond is in the most untouched state compared to the other wetlands which were restored through drain tile breaks and scraping of soil. We can use this data to create benchmarks for present and future wetland restorations using Pat’s Pond as the model for the restorations.