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Throughout the various landscapes of Vermont there is evidence of a people existing on this land as long as 12,000-13,000 years ago. These people, the Abenaki, lived in conjunction with the landscape, living a life with little ecological impact until first European contact in 1609 by Samuel Champlain. Although Champlain visited then. it was until 1615 that the Abenaki were contacted by Europeans (Klyza, Trombulak). Whi1le the French requently visited the area that is now Vermont to trade fur with the Abenaki, no official European colonies were established here until 1763. BY this point Europeans had discovered the fruitful bounty that the forests of the North East can provide so by the 1800s mass deforestation efforts were underway. Prior to this “Great Cutover” some trees had been exported to be used as naval masts for the British Navy however it was until they were deprived of their main lumber source in the Balkins that this trade flourished (Klyza, Trombulak). Since the majority of forested land was viewed as a nuisance to farming, the Great Cutover took place during the 1800s with the initial goal of clearing land for sheep farming. Seeing as how Centennials woods fell under the category of nuisance land, most of it was most likely cleared. This assumption is evidenced by the high presence of new growth species such as birches. Additionally, throughout Centennial there are trees with barbed wire growing in them. Since barbed wire was used extensively during this sheep farming era, one may assume that these are remnants from this time, especially because it would take many years for the trees to begin incorporating the wire into themselves.

While I do not know the exact use each family had for the land, UVM purchased Centennial from Baxter, Ainsworth, Hickock, Kirby, and Unsworth in 1891, 1904, 1908, 1938 and 1968 respectively. After purchasing the land, the University used it for various purposes such as a dumping ground for cadavers from the medical center (credit TA Mike Perrin for this story). In 1974, the Universities Board of trustees established Centennial Woods to be one of 9 UVM Natural Areas. Establishing the status of a Natural Area protects the land with its strict guidelines so Centennial now serves the needs of UVM students and  hikers alike. Today, Centennial Woods is primarily used as hiking ground and as an area for UVM students of professors to conduct environmental work.

Citations:

Board of Trustees, University of Vermont. (1974, April 20). UVM Natural Areas. Retrieved from: http://www.uvm.edu/~uvmsc/Centennial%20Woods/UVM_Natural_Areas_1974001.pdf

Klyza, C. M., & Trombulak, S. C. (2015). The story of Vermont a natural and cultural history. Hanover: University Press of New England.

UVM Libraries Research Guides: Centennial Woods Natural Area: History. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://researchguides.uvm.edu/c.php?g=290508&p=1935271

Throughout every previous visit to Centennial I have had the same experience: constant bombardment of sound, with birds causing the largest raucous. However, today’s visit did not bring about the usual noises of the forest. Typically, I am slammed with the sounds of birds calling from the second I enter Centennial bright up until I leave yet today I only heard the calls of a chickadee twice. With the snowiest November on record since 1900 this is not surprising as many locations are experiencing phenological changes typically associated with winter. One of these changes that struck me the most was how desolate the landscape is. After visiting my location on the more temperature Long Island, I was surprised to find not only the deciduous trees completely barren of leaves but also the understory to appeared to be dead. In fact, when I first entered the location I questioned if I was in the right spot because the usual wall of thick shrubs that greets me have been reduced to mere twigs sticking out of the ground. Additionally, the majority of fungi is virtually gone with only 1 remaining mushroom in the entire plot. Another interesting phenomenon I observed is that there was a high presence of squirrels for every visit, excluding this one. However, with the snow on the ground for this visit, I discovered footprints on the downed trees that cross the brook that I believe belong to a fox. Although the tracks were rather small, the four toes in the formation of an X, the shape of foot pad and absence of human tracks along side it led to my identification as a fox track. I will admit, after some discussion with Chris (see Chris’s Blog) there is a fair chance that the prints belong to a small dog that may have been let loose while its owner took an alternative route to cross the brook.

The lone mushroom.

 

One more note of slight interest:

On 10/13/18 the temperature of the Centennial Brook was 56.5 °F while the temperature on today’s visit, 12/5/18 was 38.5 °F.  Admittedly, the thermometer used is most likely not suitable for this type of work being that it’s intended for cooking (my Dad shipped it from home so I didn’t have to buy one). However, being that water has such a high specific heat I would think that a 27° drop in temperature that quickly is abnormal for this time of year, especially because winter has not officially begun. I intended to track the temperature change further and compare it to other statistics but I forgot the thermometer a few times and could not find any available data for Centennial Brook’s average temperature.

Partially frozen Centennial Brook.

While I most definitely enjoyed the liveliness and abundance of early fall, the silence I experienced combined with the light snow fall from this early onset winter left me with a sense of serenity that made this trip to Centennial fantastic.

 

The Chair

Nicknamed “The Chair” by locals, my second phenology location resides off of Wantagh State Parkway behind some backyards in Wantagh, New York. This place is a slightly wooded area with an old drainage ditch resembling a large chair (hence the nickname) as the center. Being that there is a drainage ditch, there is concrete throughout location making for an interesting terrain. One reason I chose this place to compare to my location in Centennial Woods is because of its proximity to a major highway and the fact that it is virtually a part of the backyards in the neighborhood. Being that Centennial Woods is a protected natural area, I speculated there were be vast differences between it and The Chair because the Chair is exposed to the stresses of residing in a modern urbanized society. Additionally, many visitors to The Chair treat it like a trash room. This fact combined with the high amount of concrete in the area makes The Chair a viable location to observe how humans impact their environment.

Beyond the interesting observations that may come from comparing a place such as the Chair to Centennial Woods, I chose The Chair because of its importance to me. Although my friends and I only recently discovered it, the Chair has became a place of comfort and home for us as we spent countless nights hanging out here throughout the past year. We visited here virtually every weekend of senior year in high school and multiple times a week during the summer so I spent the last year observing phenological changes here (although I did not realize it at the time).

Path leading to The Chair.

View from entrance to The Chair.

Concrete lining ground with Wantagh State Parkway in the background.

When comparing the vegetation between my site in Centennial and the Chair there are not many similarities. In terms of composition, the two sites only had Norway Maple and Northern Red Oak  in common. Apart from the Norway Maple and Red Oak, the only other species I was able to identify was a Red Maple as most of the vegetation in the area are shrubs that appear to be invasive. Another difference (that I was very surprised to find seeing as how my Centennial location was relatively desolate of leaf bearing trees) is that a lot of plants have  retained most of their leaves at The Chair. Even more surprising is that many of them still haven’t broken down their chlorophyll, meaning they are still green. Although I found this observation initially surprising, upon reflection it makes sense when accounting for Long Island’s more temperate climate. Additional differences can be drawn when comparing the structure/age of the trees. Most of the trees at the Chair appear to more mature then those in Centennial as they are larger with thicker trunks and denser crowns (this last one being somewhat hard to compare at this stage of the year). Additionally, many of the trees at the Chair have been warped and now grow and various angles while the trees in Centennial generally grow in a typical fashion. The limited space and its location in an urbanized area leads to competition for resources/space, accounting for the strange growing patters at the Chair. Since Centennial Woods is an open forest, the tress have more room to grow and more available resources.

 

During today’s visit to my location in Centennial woods, I noticed a vast amount of changes brought about from the previous week’s daily rain showers. All of the flat ground on the N.W. side of the brook was completely water logged to the point where it reminded me of a bog. Additionally, the rain brought about a number of changes to the brook. The mass amount of precipitation caused the brook to increase in velocity and therefore discharge. Because the velocity increased there was most likely a higher rate of erosion, evidenced by the increased turbidity of the water. Additionally, a root system along the bank of the brook was more uncovered more then ever before.  Interestingly, this was also my first visit where I could not find any Waterstriders gliding across the brook. This is most likely due to the fact that the increased velocity has increased turbulence, causing the typically calm areas where I find them to be rough and choppy.

Area that is typically calm and teeming with watergliders now disrupted from heavy precipitation.

In terms of vegetation, the unidentifiable shrub with pink leaves and red oblong berries has lost most of its leaves and the berries appear as if they are dying. While a few pink leaves remain, they are no longer a vibrant shade of pink but actually more of a mix of pink and yellow. Additionally, many of the trees are almost completely devoid of leaves with exception to the conifers. Interestingly, while some of the Striped Maple in the understory lost their leaves, there is a mature Striped Maple that appears as if it hasn’t lost any. The most striking change from this visit came from the high number of fungi observed. Previously, I spotted mushrooms here and there but on this visit I found 3 definitive examples of fungi all within close proximity of each other and one mysterious substance I believe is a fungus

(11/4/18) Unknown shrub with less leaves and a loss in vibrancy

While I typically see many squirrels throughout Centennial, one encounter on today’s trip was particularly interesting. I was standing on the NW side of the brook when I heard commotion coming from the other side so upon further investigation I saw two squirrels chasing each other. When the squirrel that was being chased noticed me, it crossed the brook, ran within inches from me and then hid by a tree I was standing next to. The other squirrel aimlessly followed it until it noticed me when it was halfway across the brook, at which point he turned and ran. This was interesting to me because I believe the squirrel that hide by me is so desensitized to humans that it realizes humans can be of some advantage.

During this trip I also created an event map, enjoy!

p.s.- I’m sorry for my terrible art skills, I thoroughly tried I am just not good at any type of drawing or art

Upon my initial visits, I observed this location to be vibrantly green throughout. As the seasons were changing from summer to fall, the abundance of green diminished and other fall colors replaced them. While the majority  of plants are showing typical fall colors such as red, orange, and yellow, one woody plant located proximal to the Boxelder has turned almost completely pink. On my initial visit, only slight traces of the pink were visible, with it turning consecutively more pink with each visit until it was dominant over green. Additionally, there were initially a few small, oblong berries on the plant and now they are plentiful. Although I believed this to be Barberry due to the red berries, the leaves are too large and pointy so I do not know the species at this time.

Red berries with pink leaves (species unknown)

Although there are a plethora of locations prime for wildlife habitat in this location, I have observed significantly less wildlife then expected. In the brook itself, one can find common water striders gliding across the surface in the water. Additionally, I observed two moths mating on a twig from the Eastern White Pine along the N.W. border. Further more, there has been a variety of birds that visit the trees, with chickadees being the most common visitors.

Mating Moths

 

Birds Eye View of Location

Hello everyone, thank you for taking the time to visit my blog. My location for the Phenology project is located in Centennial Woods, with the center point directly in the middle of Centennial Brook. To reach the location, follow the main trail through the woods until the second clearing, where there is an alternate trail immediately on the left. Take this trail until the smaller path on the right and follow that down and over the footbridge until the Brook. At the Brook, there are 2 downed logs that allow one to cross; the center point for this location is in the center of one of these logs. Since the center point is one that is easily identifiable (and therefore memorable), I also chose easily identifiable landmarks to set how far each boundary will run. The extent of the Northwestern boundary is marked by a dominant Eastern White Pine. The N.W. border runs until the footbridge, the Northeastern boundary. After the footbridge ends there is a path that crosses the Brook and then inclines slightly. On this incline there is a dominant Northern Red Oak that serves as a marker for the extent of the Southeastern boundary. This border runs as far a Boxelder Maple on the Southwest border although it is on the opposite side of the brook closer to the N.W. boundary. I chose this location because of my desire to be near running water while still being in a forest ecosystem. Although my main interest is now terrestrial animals, I used to have a passion for marine biology so water ecosystems will always have a special place in my heart, leading to my desire for running water. Additionally, I spent a lot of time exploring forest ecosystems with a brook throughout my childhood so this place is one of familiarity and comfort.

Starting at the Boxelder on the S.W. border of the plot, the Brook is coming off a slight bend causing a pool of semi stagnant water to form an enclave next to the Boxelder. In this pool I observed a greater  number of  Common Water Striders, or Gerris lacustris compared to areas where the water is directly flowing (at least eight observed in the semi-stagnant pool compared to the three observed in spots further down the Brook). Following the flow of the water (towards to N.E.) there is a small island of rocks, causing thinner streams of water to form on either side of the island. After the island ends, the streams merge into one where fallen trees/organic matter/rocks have partially dammed the water, forming a small waterfall. From there  the Brook continues as one, with some iteration in flow due to rocks in the water.

 

View from Eastern White Pine (N.W. boundary)

View from Northern Red Oak (S.E. boundary)

Downed logs over Brook (center point)

Basic Site Map

When travelling from the N.W. boundary in, the initial vegetation is a thick understory with  a high prominence of ferns. In the overstory, there are numerous Norway Maples as well as a few Boxleders. Moving inward, the thick understory continues right up until the Brooks edge where fallen trees serve as a natural bridge. On the S.E. side of the Brook, there is a slight incline in the land where there is a brief continuation of an understory similar to that of the other side.Moving upward on the incline the understory thins, making the overstory dominant as well as exposing the top soil. The overstory on this side of the Brook is much denser than the other side, containing a mix of conifers and hardwoods.

Common Woody Plants:

  • Norway Maple
  • Sugar Maple
  • Boxelder Maple
  • Eastern White Pine
  • Northern Red Oak
  • Barberry

 

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