Completed Research Projects

Effectiveness of Sheep Grazing as a Grassland Management Tool at Squam Farm

Land use by the earliest European settlers of Nantucket played a very important role in shaping the vegetation communities that are present on the island today, including sandplain grasslands that support numerous rare species. Between 2005 – 2015, we utilized targeted sheep grazing on our Squam Farm property in order to gain a better understanding about how this historic land use practice could be used to restore and maintain grassland habitat. This project was undertaken in conjunction with detailed vegetation monitoring to document the effects of sheep grazing on the plant communities present at Squam Farm. More…

Seasonal Effects of Prescribed Fire on Broom Crowberry

Broom crowberry is a rare, low-growing evergreen shrub present at several sites that appears to require fire to initiate seedling germination, but little is known about how germination is effected by fire conducted in different seasons.  Research has been undertaken to determine how this rare species responds to spring, summer and fall prescribed burns. More…

Spotted Turtle Habitat Use and Genetics Research

The spotted turtle is a semi-aquatic, freshwater reptile that occurs in vernal pools, bogs, freshwater swamps and small ponds on Nantucket. Throughout most of its range, spotted turtles are considered threatened, endangered or vulnerable. We have completed several research projects investigating the habitat use preferences, movement patterns and population genetics of spotted turtles on Nantucket. More….

Nantucket Shadbush Management Research

We completed research examining the effectiveness of periodic brushcutting and prescribed burning as management techniques for maintaining and expanding populations of Nantucket shadbush, a rare low-growing shrub found in many locations on Nantucket. The results of two projects undertaken at the Foundation’s Trots Hills and Head of the Plains properties have been incorporated into management strategies for perpetuating this rare species at these locations and many additional sites. More…

Eastern Silvery Aster Management Research

Eastern silvery aster is declining at its northern range limit in the Northeast and is currently listed as “Endangered” in Massachusetts. The only extant populations in New England are on Nantucket Island. In 2003 and 2004, we examined the distribution, abundance and ecology of  this species on Nantucket to investigate the effects of habitat management practices on this rare species, with the goal of maintaining and increasing extant occurrences. More…