On March 14th, Fellow Keith Nevison attended the 11th Annual Conference of the Society for Ecological Restoration’s (SER) Mid-Atlantic chapter at the Stockton Seaview Inn & Conference Center in Galloway, New Jersey. Over 130 restoration ecologists attended, representing federal and state agencies, universities, private contractors and conservation organizations with participants coming from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia, and West Virginia. The theme of the Conference was Highlands to High Tides: Restoring our Watersheds, and most of the talks featured projects from coastal New Jersey, including numerous successful designs installed in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, which had a devastating impact on the Atlantic coast when it hit in October 2012.
In New Jersey, Delaware, and other Atlantic states, significant restoration efforts are underway to improve habitat for horseshoe crabs, whose eggs are a major food source for red knot birds migrating from southern South America to Arctic Canada and back. This migration at 9,300 miles (15,000 kilometres) is one of the longest documented by any species in the world. Unfortunately, red knot populations have been steadily declining over the years and they are now classified as a threatened species.
The American Littoral Society had a few representatives who delivered presentations and submitted posters. The organization’s mission is to promote the study and conservation of marine life and habitat, protect the coast from harm, and empower others to do the same. They are headquartered in Millville, New Jersey.
The many exhibitors included Octoraro Native Plant Nursery, a wholesale grower in Kirkwood, Pennsylvania which produces trees and shrubs for restoration projects throughout the Mid-Atlantic.
Keith also serves as the Student Representative for the Board of the Mid-Atlantic chapter and worked to organize the Student Scholarship and poster competition for the event. The Student Scholarship, which was sponsored by energy company PEPCO, allowed 18 students from 7 universities and 1 high school to attend, most of whom presented posters on their ecological research.
This year’s winning poster Using the Past to Restore the Future… was submitted by Virginia Commonwealth University undergraduate student, Christopher Gatens, who is in his junior year of a Bachelor of Science in Biology, Environmental Studies, and Chemistry. Christopher examined tree stumps which were previously submerged by a dam project to determine the pre-perturbation vegetative composition of a wetland area to be restored. These results will better inform decision making around revegetation projects, particularly in wetland ecosystems. You can find his major findings at the VCU Scholars Compass page.
The runner-up winner of the poster competition was Julia Westermeier of Temple University, who presented her work Assessing the Cost-Effectiveness of Upland Meadow Restorations. Temple University is one of two Student Associations in SER’s Mid-Atlantic chapter, and their School of Environmental Design trains students in Horticulture and Landscape Architecture with a bend towards restoration ecology.
Thanks to all who attended the conference and to everyone who works to restore ecosystems in the Mid-Atlantic and beyond!