Study the general ecology, habitats, vegetation types, wildlife and water quality issues of Long Island’s freshwater wetlands (marshes, swamps, vernal ponds, and permanent wetlands). This session also addresses society’s role in conservation, discussing conservation biology trends, environmental ethics and spiritual ecology. We will work on further developing your naturalist interpretation skills and heighten your nature awareness (and health benefits).
Freshwater wetlands are periodically flooded or saturated, with saturated soils most of the year, and with plant species are adapted to wet conditions. They can be bogs, marshes, swamps, ponds, lakes, rivers.
Bogs are acidic and often have specialized plants, such as cranberries, pitcher plants and sundews. Marshes have herbaceous plants. Swamps are wooded/shrubby wetlands.
Changes in hydrology (for example, loss of water from water usage) will a wetland succeed into an upland. Yet wetlands can be transform into more woody growth forms. And once open water can be filled in with floating wetland plants.
Aquatic Food Chains - include a variety of species and are partially pictured on the right. Algae is formed by algae producers (bacteria).
Whether your dealing with some of the issues mentioned below or others (tick bite prevention, light pollution, public access, etc), conservation is complex.
- Frog deformities over the last decade are increasing. Is this an indicator of water quality? Frogs are appearing multiple or missing limbs. Is it Parasites or chemicals, or some combination of both? It's not uncommon for frogs to have these deformities, but these deformities are increasing. The parasitic trematode is affecting frog development and also is the cause of "swimmer's itch."
- Wetlands are valued as a source of life for people and wildlife. Some essential ecological services include: stormwater control, clean water, food supply, recreational uses, valued habitat for biological diversity, essential for bird migrations. Not all wetlands are the same, in the same. It's far easier to replace a marsh with a marsh than it is to replace a thousand year bog.
- Fishing is a more serious threat to the environment than hunting. Overfishing diminishes overfishing ocean population is a serious concern. There's difference in recreational versus commercial fishing, and in fishing methods, especially bottom trawling (most destructive).
- Hunting is managed by the NYSDEC for traditional recreational pursuit and for wildlife management purposes. The Pittman-Roberston Act (1937) taxes hunting equipment and is matched by state hunting license fees. The money funds NYSDEC and other state agencies for wildlife management for projects (research, wildlife reintroductions and improving wildlife habitat). Hunters also raise fund through clubs for conservation purchase of open space and it management including restoration efforts. Poaching, illegal hunting, is another matter.
Nature Awareness & Health Benefits
Today we live in boxes. We have created societies that take nature for granted and cause more damage than good, threatening our very existence. Imagine if we connected as much with nature as we do with our cellphones, our emails and whatever’s trending? -- Billie Weiss, Reveal The Light Within
Fresh air was once prescribed for ailments because our ancestors knew of its curative properties. Our bodies need refreshment from oxygenated air generated by grass, trees, plants and flowers. Your body craves this so go outdoors often and breathe deeply.
We are in a sense an extension of Mother Nature. We function optimally with organic, natural foods and clean, non-toxic environments. But unfortunately with industrialization and the desire for convenience we have gotten away from that and filled our bodies and minds with ‘stuff’ they cannot process!
Studies show that people who live close to natural areas have measurably better health and well-being compared to those who don’t.
Fresh air and Nature is known to increased immune activity, enhance the use of the senses and produce higher work productivity. Nature is known to ‘Evaporate Depression’. Negative ions; particles that are plentiful near waterfalls, breaking waves, and river rapids can act as natural antidepressants, according to Columbia University researchers. (They are believed to produce biochemical reactions that increase levels of the mood chemical serotonin, helping to alleviate depression, relieve stress, and boost our daytime energy)
An Indoor Air study found that after breathing negative ions for an hour, the subjects' blood lactate levels dropped 33 percent, improving their energy levels.
- In 2008, University of Michigan researchers demonstrated that, after just an hour interacting with nature, memory performance and attention spans improved by 20 percent. Researchers at the University of Kansas reported a 50 percent boost in creativity for people who were steeped in nature for a few days.
- Studies show that simply looking at a natural scene activates parts of the brain associated with balance and happiness. In a study at South Korea's Chonnam National University, fMRI scans showed that when subjects saw images of mountains, forests, and other landscapes, they experienced heightened activity in the anterior cingulate gyrus (which is linked to positive outlook and emotional stability) and the basal ganglia (an area that's been tied to the recollection of happy memories).
- A 2011 study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that people who walked on an outdoor track moved at a faster pace, perceived less exertion, and experienced more positive emotions and even performed better afterwards than those who walked on an indoor treadmill. In another recent study done in Scotland, subjects who walked through a rural area viewed their to-do list as more manageable than those who walked on city streets.
- The Japanese knew that shinrin-yoku, or "forest bathing," does wonderful things for the body. But now researchers at Tokyo's Nippon Medical School have quantifiable evidence: In one study, women who spent two to four hours in the woods on two consecutive days experienced a nearly 50 percent increase in the activity of cancer-fighting white blood cells.
Making the Connection: Connecting starts with ‘grounding’ or connecting to the earth. When we feel spacey, confused or forgetful it means our attention is directed to high; you are not fully in your body or in the ‘present’ moment. You may be in your head too much. A balance is needed. Grounding helps you to better concentrate, focus and tap into your inner wisdom. In Meditation we learn how to connect deeply to the Earth by grounding; planting our roots into the earth like the trees. Meditation or its Latin root ‘medicus’ means ‘to make whole’ or ‘to cure’. So it’s the perfect alternative to medication. (Note; never abruptly stop taking medication; consult your physician). Many studies correlate meditation with longevity and significant health benefits. Simply put, it means focusing your mind consciously, either on a peaceful thought or positive intention. Combined with Nature the effects are multiplied. (Daily Om; Trees and People)
“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” - Albert Einstein
- Gaia means "earth" in Greek. She is a primal mother goddess, complete in herself. Gaia personifies the Earth itself. The word Gaia is a compound of two elements: Ge meaning the Earth and Aia meaning Grandmother, often Gaia is referred to as the Mother of Earth.In modern times the name Gaia has been connected to environmental theories. The Gaia theory of James Lovelock, first published in 1969, proposes that all living organisms and inorganic material on the Earth are part of a living dynamic system, which maintains the Earth as a perfect environment for life.
- Spiritual Ecology enhances mind, body, and spirit, including time for meditation, celebration, and exploration of nature. It is a place in which the inner and outer worlds shape the quality of our experiences of the outdoors. It improves your inner sense of knowing Nature, and for reconnecting to nature for self health and vigor too. It focuses on the subjective, first person experience of Nature, and draws in upon the spiritual to restore balance. Often described as going within, trusting your gut, listening to your body, and using your body as an extension to Nature. It is a spiritual response to the environmental destruction of the Earth.
In Meditation we learn how to connect deeply to the Earth by grounding; planting our roots into the earth like the trees. Meditation or its Latin root ‘medicus’ means ‘to make whole’ or ‘to cure’. So it’s the perfect alternative to medication. (Note; never abruptly stop taking medication; consult your physician). Many studies correlate meditation with longevity and significant health benefits. Simply put, it means focusing your mind consciously, either on a peaceful thought or positive intention. Combined with Nature the effects are multiplied.
Basic Meditation; “Close your eyes… take a few deep breaths… send your roots deep into the ground, connect with the earth. Just like the mighty oak tree. Imagine and feel the sun on your face and the wind blow through your hair. Let go of all the stress, let it wash down the body and exit through the roots with gratitude to the earth for transforming it and for all the ways she nourishes and sustains you, your loved ones, the entire planet…”
Write in your journal; setting any intentions or asking a question; guidance as we prep for;
No matter how busy there is always time to pause for fresh air! A retreat in nature is an investment that will yield huge dividends as you return with new ideas and a fresh outlook! Recapture your personal power simply by stepping outside. Experience the feeling of ‘Freedom’ Nature provides.
Field Training Equivalents
Record field training in your Apprentice Nature Journal. See below for some ideas:
- Friends of Long Pond Greenbelt Calendar - variable events can tie into many session topics
- Quality Parks offering Master Naturalist field training sessions
- SOFO - South Fork Natural History Museum & Nature Center Calendar - variable events can tie into many session topics
- SASI - Suffolk County Sportsmen and Sportswomen - Attend hunting related activity to learn more about conservation issues
- The Art of Nature Journaling - Jan Porinchak
Nature Awareness & Health Benefits
- “Wetlands – Wetland Types” http://water.epa.gov/type/wetlands/types_index.cfm
- “Wetlands” National Wetlands Research Center.http://www.nwrc.usgs.gov/topics/wetlands/wetlandsInfo.htm
- Long Island Salamanders - nice pictures of - http://people.hofstra...
- NYSDEC Freshwater Wetlands Delineation Manual - http://www.dec.ny.gov.
- Red, Green, and Brown: What's in the Water? - though not local great photos
- Aquatic Ecology & The Food Web - http://fisheries.tamu.edu/files/2013/10/Aquatic-Ecology-And-The-Food-Web.pdf
- The Value of Wetlands - WWF
- Pesticides, Parasite May Cause Frog Deformities - National Geographic News
- NYSDEC Hunting Regulations
- NYSDEC Hunting on Long Island
- NYSDEC Long Island Public Hunting Areas
- NYSDEC Deer Hunting Forecast 2016 - Region 1
- Hunting & Wildlife Conservation Go Hand In Hand - Michigan DNR
- Destructive Fishing
- FAQ about Invasive Species
- Can Native Plants Be Invasive - Kim Eierman
- Native Invasive Species - Kate Prengaman
- Frogs & Toads of NY State
Nature Awareness & Health Benefits
- Billie Weiss, Reveal The Light Within - Nature Awareness & Health Benefits
- Peter Warny, Wetland Ecologist - Freshwater Wetlands and Conservation