Long Island Naturalists Get Ready For Spring Conference

Big Birds
Big Birds

The fourth annual Long Island Natural History Conference will take place Friday and Saturday, March 18 and 19 in the Berkner auditorium at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Topics for discussion will include the southern pine beetle infestation on Long Island, rare birds on Great Gull Island, exotic invasive plants, shellfish restoration in the Great South Bay, eelgrass restoration, sharks in local waters and climate change.

The conference is organized by the Long Island Nature Organization, founded in 2012 by East End naturalist Mike Bottini, writer and publisher James Monaco and teacher John Turner, who hope to build a web-based clearinghouse of information on Long Island’s natural environment.

Tickets for the two-day conference are $25 for students, $36 for LINO members and $40 for the general public, and are available online here.

Friday’s presentations begin with a discussion on the pine beetle infestation with DEC foresters and representatives from the Central Pine Barrens Joint Planning & Policy Commission, beginning at 9:10 a.m.

The southern pine beetle has begun to wreak havoc over the past year on pine barrens land in Hampton Bays, East Quogue and Westhampton, where DEC foresters have begun cutting down infested trees to attempt to stop the spread of the highly invasive bug, which lives on the sap of pine trees.

That discussion will be followed by an overview of the DEC’s Colonial Water Bird Program with wildlife biologist Chip Hamilton at 9:50 a.m.

Great Gull Island Project Director Helen Hays will discuss terns at 1:30 p.m., and representatives from The Nature Conservancy will discuss shellfish restoration in the Great South Bay at 2:50 p.m., followed by a discussion on eelgrass with Chris Pidkerell of Cornell Cooperative Extension at 3:30 p.m.

Saturday’s lectures include a talk on past and future climate changes on Long Island by David Black of SUNY Stony Brook at 10:50 a.m., a lecture by author Carl Safina on his latest book, “Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel” at 11:30 a.m. and a talk on sharks in our local waters by Southampton High School science teacher Gregory M. Metzger, titled “Oh, Just How Little We Know,” at 1:10 p.m.

Mr. Safina, a noted nature author whose work spans the world, but who lives in Napeague, has written award-winning works on changes to natural ecosystems including “Song for Blue Ocean” and “The View From Lazy Point: A Natural Year in an Unnatural World.

Mr. Metzger is a co-founder of the Long Island Shark Collaboration, which collects and shares data on shark behavior in local waters. His team made news last summer when, in collaboration with Southampton High School students, they tagged the first-ever great white shark pup off the coast of Southampton.

The full schedule of talks and events is online here.


Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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