The Nantucket Biodiversity Initiative is a group built of members of all of the various conservation, research, and ecology groups on Nantucket. For such a small island, there are a lot of different groups interested in and investing in protecting and promoting biodiversity!


First thing: what is biodiversity? You might think it’s a commonly used catch phrase without a clear understanding of what it means – particularly in a place like Nantucket!

From Mirriam-Webster Dictionary: biological diversity in an environment as indicated by numbers of different species of plants and animals

From the World Wildlife Fund: Biodiversity comprises all the millions of different species that live on our planet, as well as the genetic differences within species. It also refers to the multitude of different ecosystems in which species form unique communities, interacting with one another and the air, water and soil. 1

Biodiversity is explored at three levels:
genetic diversity
species diversity
ecosystem diversity.

So on Nantucket, the NBI has identified that the biodiversity of our island and surrounding islands, is particularly important. The mission of the Nantucket Biodiversity Initiative (NBI) is to conserve the native biodiversity of Nantucket through collaborative research, monitoring and education.

Since 2006 NBI has been fostering exploration of Nantucket’s unique biodiversity through research grants, Assessment weeks, species lists, and research conferences to bring together all of the various work on Nantucket.

This upcoming weekend – November 13th – 15th will be our 6th Biennial (every other year!) NBI Research Conference and there is a wealth of information to explore! Every event is open to the public although you need to register ahead of time as some events (like our workshops and fieldtrips have caps on participation).


Dr Elizabeth Farnsworth, Senior Research Ecologist with the New England Wildflower Society, will be kicking off the weekend with a workshop on utilizing GoBotany to identify native plants throughout New England. Following that, the upstairs of the Atheneum is open to everyone to hear her talk on:

State of New England’s Native Plants: Challenges and Opportunities for Conserving Coastal Habitats, 7pm at the Atheneum

Saturday is our all day research conference at the Nantucket Hotel ballroom. Come for one talk or all! Each talk is ~20 min and focuses on one research topic such as Bats on Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, Scavengers on Nantucket, Sandplain grassland restoration and many many more – Find the day’s schedule on our conference website!

And on Sunday, Peter Brace of Nantucket Walkabout will be taking conference participants into the Middle Moors to explore first hand the unique diversity of the island.

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There will be something for everyone this weekend – so come and enjoy! And if you are interested in researching the biodiversity on Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard or Cape Cod – keep an eye out for our annual grant program which will be opening for 2016 soon.