Early results from the first year of an effort to document the status of breeding birds in Rhode Island have shown what many birdwatchers expected: some species have disappeared from the state since a similar survey was conducted in the 1980s, while others have moved into the area for the first time.
One of Rhode Island’s rarest turtle, the diamondback terrapin, has been discovered in new locations in recent years, and those monitoring the animals say the species is holding its own in the state and may even be increasing in number.
When a tropical fish called a crevalle jack turned up this summer in the Narragansett Bay trawl survey, which the University of Rhode Island conducts weekly, it was the first time the species was detected in the more than 50 years that the survey has taken place.
PROVIDENCE — Black swallow-wort grows in dense patches in sun and partial shade. It climbs up, outcompetes and replaces other plants, weakening local ecosystems. Monarch butterflies, which lay their eggs only on milkweed plants, are tricked into laying their eggs on swallow-wort, a close relative of milkweed. None of the larvae hatched on this plant survive.
JAMESTOWN, R.I. — Many people throughout Rhode Island and southern New England have reported unusually large numbers of jellyfish in recent years. And while this year isn’t turning out to be a big year for jellyfish in Narragansett Bay, some scientists claim that the warming of the oceans may be creating conditions that benefit jellyfish.
PROVIDENCE — Caroline Karp, professor of environmental studies at Brown University, has been hoping to tap the potential for widespread data collection and find a way to use citizen scientists to keep tabs on Rhode Island's jellyfish populations.
KINGSTON, R.I. — It’s the peak of shark fishing season, when hundreds of fishermen enter tournaments throughout southern New England and Long Island to catch the biggest shark. It has Bradley Wetherbee worried.
Saltmarsh sparrows are the only species of breeding bird found nowhere else but the East Coast of the United States, where they live exclusively in coastal marshes, including several sites in Rhode Island. But the birds are predicted to go extinct within the next 50 years.
Massachusetts residents of Mattapoisett, Marion and Fairhaven may not be thinking about forests and wetlands when they pour a glass of water from their kitchen tap. However, most of the work to keep their drinking water clean and healthy is done by the natural forests and wetlands of the Mattapoisett River Valley.
JAMESTOWN, R.I. — Jon Nelson referred to it as a “monster hive,” for good reason. It stretched more than 16 feet, from the basement to the second-floor ceiling. It took the “bee whisperer” — a nickname, as far as ecoRI News knows, just bestowed upon the Woonsocket resident — two days to carefully extract 35 pounds of bees and about 100 pounds of honey.
The massive defoliation of trees in southern New England by winter moth and gypsy moth caterpillars this spring and summer has totally changed the look of the regional landscape. And while scientists say it’s unlikely that many trees will die as a result of one year of defoliation, it raises the question of how it will affect other species of wildlife.
PROVIDENCE — A young girl crouches at the edge of the Woonasquatucket River, a small plastic bucket clutched in her hands. Gently, she upends the bucket. The fish that flops out creates a small splash, the water rippling in the sunlight. The girl watches it swim away.
HOPKINTON, R.I. — More than 200 volunteer naturalists explored every corner of the Kenyon Crossroads Preserve recently during the 17th annual BioBlitz, and in just 24 hours they tallied 1,066 species on the property, from birds and mammals to mushrooms, dragonflies and spiders.
The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management is advising homeowners that high concentrations of caterpillars observed statewide may cause short-term defoliation of trees during the next few weeks.