Maintaining Early Successional Habitat Diversity at Worlds End
J. Andrew Walsh
The Bradley Estate
The Trustees of Reservations
Delivered at 2003 Boston Harbor Islands Science Symposium
In 2002, The Trustees of Reservations completed a Management Plan that identified specific conservation goals and significant threats to the grasslands at Worlds End. The primary management goal for grassland management at Worlds End is maintaining a grassland/early successional mosaic that supports a diversity of species that depend on these habitats. Grassland wildlife, including nesting birds and butterflies, native grassland patches, rare species, and plant diversity are among the most important conservation targets. Plant community succession, invasive exotic plants, and recreational use currently pose the most significant threats to these ecological attributes. A grassland management plan completed in 2003 defines a management strategy to protect critical ecological resources and mitigate the primary threats to grasslands at Worlds End.
Under the new grassland management plan, mechanical mowing will continue to be the primary grassland management tool at Worlds End. The timing and frequency of mowing treatments will respond to specific management needs and conservation targets within the 18 management units on the property. An experimental mowing program, initiated in 2002, is designed to help ecology staff determine the frequency of mowing needed to yield desired results (e.g., reduction in woody plants). Species composition and cover data will be collected annually in seven, ¼-acre experimental mowing plots subject to varied mowing regimes. The results of the experimental mowing program will guide future management efforts to restore the property’s early successional habitats toward conditions appropriate for specific conservation targets (e.g., nesting grassland birds, plant diversity, etc.). Brush clearing along field margins and seasonal trail closures will also be implemented as necessary to enhance grasslands that may support nesting birds. Limited field expansion is being considered where it would benefit nesting birds.