• Atlantic Ocean beach at Cape Cod National Seashore

    Cape Cod

    National Seashore Massachusetts

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    Sections of the boardwalk at the Red Maple Swamp Trail have been closed due to structural deterioration and safety concerns. Check at Salt Pond Visitor Center for the current status of this trail, and for your safety, remain out of closed areas.

CCEM - Reports and Publications

Bob_Cropped

CACO wildlife ecologist Bob Cook braves snags and frigid temperatures to measure water depth in a vernal pond. Measuring physical and environmental characteristics of vernal pond habitats is an important component of the amphibian monitoring program at CACO.

NPS photo

Reports and Publications
The Cape Cod National Seashore (CACO) has ambitious research goals. Together the Atlantic Research & Learning Center and the Cape Cod Ecosystem Monitoring (CCEM) program compose a strong network of research facilitation and information exchange that integrates natural and cultural resource data into management planning and decision making. One end product of these efforts are written reports and publications. Below, please find a listing of reports and publications, organized by ecosystem type, that characterize research taking place at the park. This list is composed of both NPS reports and publications as well as journal articles and theses that give accounts of research done in direct collaboration with the park. Most NPS reports are viewable as word documents or pdfs. Journal articles and theses are linked to abstracts where available. All publications that utilize data made possible by the Inventory and Monitoring Program have been highlighted with an asterik (*). Click on the highlighted links to view or download these files. The reports are grouped into the following ecosystem types:

 
Alterniflora

Flowering Spartina alterniflora in a Cape Cod salt marsh.

Photo By Jane Barnes


Estuaries and Salt Marshes - top of page
Estuaries and salt marshes are ecologically and economically important systems. Estuaries and salt marshes are some of the the most biologically productive ecosystems in the world serving as a source of nutrients for many coastal food chains as well as habitat and feeding grounds for an array of important species. Like many coastal areas in the United States, the land use history pertaining to estuaries and salt marshes on Cape Cod has proven destructive. In past centuries much of the intertidal acreage on Cape Cod has been restricted or drained as what were once common means of mosquito control. Due in large part to this fact, salt marsh restoration is a major focus of current management and research at Cape Cod National Seashore.
 

Hatches Harbor Restoration Annual Reports - Hatches Harbor is a 200-acre salt marsh that was bisected in 1930 by a dike originally built to reduce population levels of nuisance mosquitoes. In 1996, the National Park Service, in cooperation with the Provincetown Airport Commission, Provincetown Municipal Airport and the Federal Aviation Administration, agreed to restore the degraded habitat. A comprehensive environmental monitoring program was begun in 1997. The main goal of the monitoring program is to document the pace of restoration...More Info

Stephen M. Smith, Kimberly Lellis-Dibble, Kelly Chapman, Holly Bayley, and Lena Curtis. Hatches Harbor Tidal Restoration Monitoring Report, 2008 *

Stephen Smith, Kelly Chapman, Michelle Galvin, Evan Gwilliam, & John Portnoy. Hatches Harbor Salt Marsh Restoration: 2007 Annual Report*

Evan Gwilliam, Stephen Smith, Kelly Chapman, & John Portnoy. Hatches Harbor Salt Marsh Restoration: 2006 Annual Report*

John Portnoy, Kelly Chapman, Evan Gwilliam, and Stephen Smith. Hatches Harbor Salt Marsh Restoration: 2005 Annual Report*

Hatches Harbor Salt Marsh Restoration: 2004 Annual Report*

John Portnoy, Evan Gwilliam & Stephen Smith. Hatches Harbor Salt Marsh Restoration: 2003 Annual Report*

Portnoy, J., S.M. Smith, C. Roman, M-J. James-Pirri, C. Boleyn, and E. Gwilliam. Hatches Harbor Salt Marsh Restoration: 2002 Annual Report*

C. N. Farris, J. W. Portnoy and C. T. Roman. Hatches Harbor Salt Marsh Restoration: 2001 Annual Report*

C.N. Farris & J. W. Portnoy. Hatches Harbor Salt Marsh Restoration: 1999 Annual Report*

Norm Farris, John Portnoy, Alan Bennett, Charles Roman, Nels Barrett, Evan Gwilliam, Eleanor Kinney and Kenny Raposa. Hatches Harbor Salt Marsh Restoration: 1998 Annual Report*

East Harbor Restoration Annual Reports - East Harbor, a 720-acre back-barrier lagoon, was artificially isolated from the Cape Cod Bay marine environment in 1868 with the filling of the original 1000-ft wide inlet at the northwest end of the system. An oxygen depletion and fish kill in September 2001 prompted Truro and Cape Cod National Seashore officials to open the clapper valves in the 4-ft diameter drainage pipe connecting the southeast end of the system with Cape Cod Bay in hopes of restoring some tidal exchange and increasing aeration. Despite limits on tidal exchange imposed by the pipe's small diameter, and the distance that it travels under ground, we have observed an impressive response in the recovery of salinity and estuarine biota...More Info

Smith, S.M., K.C. Medeiros, K. Lee, S.E. Fox, and H. Bayley. 2010. Annual Report on Estuarine Restoration at East Harbor (Truro, MA), Cape Cod National Seashore, 2009. Technical Report NPS/NER/NRTR-2010/146. National Park Service. Philadelphia, PA.

Stephen M. Smith, Kelly Chapman, Krista Lee, Megan Tyrrell, Jodie Wennemer, and Rachel Thiet. Annual Report on Estuarine Restoration at East Harbor (Truro,MA), Cape Cod National Seashore, 2008*

John Portnoy, Stephen Smith, Krista Lee, Kelly Chapman, Michelle Galvin, and Evan Gwilliam. Annual Report on Estuarine Restoration at East Harbor (Truro,MA), Cape Cod National Seashore, 2007*

John Portnoy, Stephen Smith, Evan Gwilliam & Kelly Chapman. Annual Report on Estuarine Restoration at East Harbor (Truro,MA), Cape Cod National Seashore, 2006*

John Portnoy, Stephen Smith, Evan Gwilliam. Progress Report on Estuarine Restoration at East Harbor (Truro, MA), Cape Cod National Seashore, May 2005*

Additional NPS Reports and Publications on Salt Marshes

Doughety, A.J. 2004. Sedimentation Concerns Associated with the Proposed Restoration of Herring River Marsh, Wellfleet, Massachusetts. NPS Report. Cape Cod National Seashore, Wellfleet, MA.

James-Pirri, M. J. 2012. Assessment of spawning horseshoe crabs (Limulus polyphemus) at Cape Cod National Seashore, 2008-2009. Natural Resource Technical Report NPS/CACO/NRTR-2012/573. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado.

Martin, L. 2007. Assessment of Potential Saltwater Encroachment in the Herring River Basin, Cape Cod National Seashore. NPS/NRPC/WRD/NRTR - 2007/370. National Park Service, Fort Collins, CO.

Martin, L. 2004. Salt Marsh Restoration at Herring River: An Assessment of Potential Salt Water Intrusion in Areas Adjacent to Herring River and Mill Creek, Cape Cod National Seashore. NPS/NRWRD/NRTR - 2004/319. National Park Service, Fort Collins, CO.

Pooler, P.S., M.C. Tyrrell, K.A. Lellis-Dibble, H.K. Bayley, S.M. Stevens. 2011. Modeling Trends in Northeast Coastal Salt Marshes: A Comparison of Bayesian Hierarchical and Multivariate Nonparametric Approaches. George Wright Society Biennial Conference, New Orleans, Louisiana, March 2011.

Portnoy, J., and L. Martin. 2007. Tidal Fluctuations Groundwater Level Normal to a Salt-marsh-fringed Shoreline, Herring River Estuary, Wellfleet (Massachusetts). NPS Report. Cape Cod National Seashore, Wellfleet, MA.

Portnoy, J., C. Roman, S. Smith, and E. Gwilliam. 2003. The Hatches Harbor Prototype. Park Science 22: 51-58.


Smith, S.M. H. Bayley, and L.R. Curtis. 2009. Salt marsh vegetation monitoring Report 2008, Cape Cod National Seashore. NPS Report. Cape Cod National Seashore, Wellfleet, MA.*

Smith, S. 2005. Salt Marsh Vegetation Monitoring 2005. NPS Report. Cape Cod National Seashore, Wellfleet, MA.*

Smith, S. 2004. 2004 Vegetation Monitoring Report for Salt Marsh Restoration Projects. NPS Report. Cape Cod National Seashore, Wellfleet, MA.*

Smith, S. 2004. 2003 Salt Marsh Vegetation Monitoring Report, Cape Cod National Seashore. NPS Report. Cape Cod National Seashore, Wellfleet, MA.*

Journal Articles and Theses

Colman, J.A. and J.P. Masterson. 2008. Transient simulations of nitrogen load for a coastal aquifer and embayment, Cape Cod, MA. Environmental Science and Technology 42(1): 207-213.

James-Pirri, M.J., P. Veillette, and A. Leschen. 2012. Selected hemolymph serum constituents of captive, bled, and wild caught female American horseshoe crabs (Limulus polyphemus). Marine and Freshwater Behaviour and Physiology. Accepted pending revisions.

James-Pirri, MJ. 2010. Seasonal movement of the American horseshoe crab Limulus polyphemus in a semi-enclosed bay on Cape Cod, Massachusetts (USA) as determined by acoustic telemetry. Current Zoology 56: 575-586.

Lyons, P., C. Thornber, J. Portnoy & E. Gwilliam. 2008. Dynamics of macroalgal blooms along the Cape Cod National Seashore. Northeast Naturalist, (in press).

Smith, S.M. and R.S. Warren. 2012. Vegetation responses to tidal restoration. Chapter 4, pp. 59-80. In: C. Roman and D. Burdick (eds), Restoring Tidal Flow to Salt Marshes: A Synthesis of Science and Management. Island Press: Washington, DC.

Smith, S.M., K.C. Medeiros, and H.K. Bayley. 2011. Water temperature as a limiting factor in the colonization of a partially-restored coastal lagoon: Case study of a gastropod herbivore and control of macroalgae. Ecological Restoration 29: 243-251.

Smith, S.M and M.C. Tyrrell. 2012. Effects of mud fiddler crabs (Uca pugnax) on the recruitment of halophyte seedlings in salt marsh dieback areas of Cape Cod (Massachusetts, USA). Ecological Research 27: 233-237

Smith, S.M., K.C. Medeiros, and M. Tyrrell. 2012. Hydrology, herbivory, and the decline of Spartina patens (Aiton) Muhl. in outer Cape Cod salt marshes (Massachusetts, USA). Journal of Coastal Research 28: 602-612.

Smith, S.M., C.T. Roman, M-J James-Pirri, K. Chapman, J. Portnoy, and E. Gwilliam. 2009. Responses of plant communities to incremental hydrologic restoration of a tide-restricted salt marsh in southern New England (Massachusetts, U.S.A.). Restoration Ecology 17: 606-618.

Valiela, I., E. Kinney, J. Culbertson, E. Peacock, and S. Smith. 2009. Global losses of mangroves and salt marshes: Magnitudes, causes and consequences. In C. Duarte (ed.) Global Loss of Coastal Habitats: Magnitudes, Causes, and Consequences. Fundacion BBVA. Madrid.

Smith, S.M. 2009. Multi-decadal changes in salt marshes of Cape Cod, Massachusetts: a photographic analysis of vegetation loss, species shifts, and geomorphic change. Northeastern Naturalist 16(2):183-208

Smith, S.M. 2007. Removal of salt-killed vegetation during tidal restoration of a New England salt marsh: effects on wrack movement and the establishment of native halophytes. Ecological Restoration 25:268-273.

Smith, S.M. and S. Warren. 2006. Determining ground surface topography in tidal marshes using water marks. Journal of Coastal Research 23: 265-274.

Thiet, R.K. 2008. Molluscan community recovery following partial tidal restoration of a New England estuary, U.S.A. Restoration Ecology, (in press).

 
Piping plover chick

The piping plover has been protected under the Endangered Species Act since 1986.  Cape Cod beaches serve as critical breeding habitat.

NPS photo


Beaches, Spits, Barrier Islands, and Shorebirds - top of page
There are no shortage of sandy habitats on Cape Cod. These environs host a number of rare plants and animals. Shorebirds, like the piping plover, are a particularly charismatic group of species that often attract much attention. For over two decades an enormous, nation-wide effort has been waged to protect the piping plovers from imminent extinction. As a result, plover populations continue to grow closer to stability. Cape Cod National Seashore beaches serve as prime breeding habitat for piping plovers. An intensive monitoring and management program at CACO has contributed significantly to the plovers' ascendance from the brink.
 

Annual Shorebird Monitoring and Management Reports - Cape Cod National Seashore provides miles of prime feeding, nesting and roosting habitat for beach-nesting birds, including the federally threatened piping plover. These reports summarize the results of the shorebird monitoring and management program at CACO...More Info

 
Cape Cod Pond

Besides serving as recreational destinations for people, kettle ponds throughout Cape Cod National Seashore serve as important habitat for a variety of wildlife.

NPS Photo


Ponds and Freshwater Wetlands - top of page
Kettle ponds are ecosystems that for many people represent the Cape Cod experience. These freshwater ponds, remnants of retreating glaciation, are unique in many ways. Kettle ponds rely almost solely on ground water as a freshwater source, making them highly vulnerable to environmental disturbance. Atmospheric deposition and recreation have a direct effect on the ecological processes of these ponds, making careful management essential. In addition to Kettle Ponds, Cape Cod National Seashore hosts hundreds if not thousands of freshwater wetlands, ranging greatly in size and composition, but all of which serve as critical habitat for a multitude of species.
 
Pond Breeding Amphibian Monitoring Reports- Cape Cod National Seashore supports a great abundance and diversity of freshwater wetlands. Few landscapes in the region contain such a wealth of wetlands, which in turn support many regionally uncommon species of wetland-dependent flora and fauna. Among these, amphibians play a significant role in the energy flow, biomass, and community structure of freshwater wetlands, and contribute significantly to terrestrial ecosystems as well. Consequently, monitoring of pond breeding amphibians was initiated in 2003. Specific rationale for the program includes concerns for individual habitats and species, as well as questions related to changes in abundance, distribution, and structure of the park's amphibian communities...More Info

2005 Monitoring of Pond Breeding Amphibians at Cape Cod National Seashore*
2004 Monitoring of Pond Breeding Amphibians at Cape Cod National Seashore*
2003 Monitoring of Pond Breeding Amphibians at Cape Cod National Seashore*

Additional NPS Reports and Publications on Ponds and Freshwater Wetlands

Cook, R.P., K.M. Boland, S.J. Kot, J. Borgmeyer, and M. Schult. 2007. Inventory of Freshwater Turtles at Cape Cod National Seashore with Recommendations for Long-Term Monitoring. Technical Report NPS/NER/NRTR - 2007/091. National Park Service, Boston, MA.*

Cook, R.P., J. Portnoy, D. Murphy, M. Schult, A. Goodstine, and L. Bratz. 2006. Preliminary Report on the Distribution and Abundance of Four-Toed Salamanders (Hemidactylium scutatum) at Cape Cod National Seashore, with Emphasis on the Herring River Drainage. NPS Report. Cape Cod National Seashore, Wellfleet, MA.*

Cook, R.P. 2005. Monitoring leads to enhanced protection of spadefoot toads at Cape Cod National Seashore. Park Science 23(2): 10-11.*

Portnoy, J.W., M.G. Winkler, P.R. Sanford, and C.N. Farris. 2001. Kettle Pond Data Atlas: Paleoecology and Modern Water Quality. NPS Report. Cape Cod National Seashore, Wellfleet, MA.*

Smith, S.M. 2012. Monitoring Protocol for Kettle Pond Vegetation of Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts. Natural Resource Report. NPS/NER/NRR-2012/561. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado.

Smith, S.M., J. Wheeler, and A. Thime. 2010. Dune slack wetlands vegetation monitoring, Cape Cod National Seashore, 2009. Technical Report NPS/NER/NRTR-2010/150. National Park Service. Philadelphia, PA.

Smith, S., K. Fiedler and H. Bayley. 2007. Assessment of Vegetation in Permanent Freshwater Ponds in the Province Lands, Cape Cod National Seashore, 2007. NPS Report. Cape Cod National Seashore, Wellfleet, MA.*

Smith, S.M., J. Allen, and H. Ruggerio. 2006. Assessment of Vegetation in Forested Vernal Wetlands of Cape Cod National Seashore, 2006. NPS Report. Cape Cod National Seashore, Wellfleet, MA.*

Smith, S.M., and M. Hanley. 2005. Dune Slack Wetlands of Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts, U.S.A. NPS Report. Cape Cod National Seashore, Wellfleet, MA.*

Smith, S.M. 2004. Assessment of Epiphytic Algae (Periphyton) as a Component of Kettle Pond Monitoring at Cape Cod National Seashore (2004). NPS Report. Cape Cod National Seashore, Wellfleet, MA.*

Winkler, M.G. and P.R. Sanford. 2004. Eutrophication Trends in the Past 500 Years in Cape Cod Kettle Pond Sediments. NPS Report. Cape Cod National Seashore, Wellfleet, MA.

Winkler, M.G. 1997. The Development of Ryder Pond in the Cape Cod National Seashore and Determination of the Causes of Recent Ryder Pondwater Chemistry Changes. Technical Report NPS/NESO-RNR/NRTR/97-01. National Park Service, North Atlantic Regional Office.

Journal Articles and Theses

Cook, R.P., Tupper, T.A., Paton, P.W.C., and Timm, B.C. 2011. Effects of temperature and temporal factors on anuran detection probabilities at Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts, USA: implications for long-term monitoring. Herpetological Conservation and Biology 6(2): 25-39.

Cook, R., Boland, K. 2005. A Comparison of approaches to counting spotted salamander (Ambystoma maculatum) egg masses in vernal ponds. Herpetological Review 36(3), 272-274.*

Smith, S.M. and K. Lee. 2012. Nitrogen-stimulated growth of algae in surface water samples collected from freshwater kettle ponds of Cape Cod National Seashore (Massachusetts, U.S.A.). Journal of Freshwater Ecology 27: 151-157.

Smith, S., Hanley, M., Killingbeck, K.T. 2008. Development of vegetation in dune slack wetlands of Cape Cod National Seashore (Massachusetts, U.S.A.). Plant Ecology 194: 243-256.

Smith, S.M. and Lee, K.D. 2006. Responses of periphyton to artificial nutrient enrichment in freshwater kettle ponds of Cape Cod National Seashore. Hydrobiologia 571: 201-211.

Smith, S.M. 2005. Manual control of Phragmites australis in freshwater ponds of Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts, U.S.A. Journal of Aquatic Plant Management 43: 50-53.

Tupper, T.A., Cook, R.P. 2008. Habitat variables influencing breeding effort in northern clade Bufo fowleri: Implications for conservation. Applied Herpetology 5: 101-119.

Tupper, T.A., Cook, R.P., Timm, B.C., Goodstine, A. 2007. Improving calling surveys for detecting Fowler's Toads, Bufo fowleri, in southern New England, USA. Applied Herpetology 4: 245-259.

Tupper, T.A. 2006. Variables Influencing Vocalization and Breeding Effort in the Fowler's Toad, Bufo fowleri, in Southern New England. PhD Dissertation, George Mason University. pp 112.

 
pinecone

A female pitch pine cone.  The cones are specially evolved to burst open during fires, a characteristic known as serotinous. 

Photo by Scott Buchanan


Coastal Uplands - top of page
The sandy soils of Cape Cod give rise to globally rare plant communities such as pitch-pine barrens and coastal sandplains. These communities harbor a fascinating array of plants and animals, many of which warrant future study. Cape Cod National Seashore offers a variety of research opportunities for those wishing to pursue scientific inquiry in the natural or cultural resource fields.
 

NPS Reports and Publications on Coastal Uplands

Report on Small Mammal Monitoring at Cape Cod National Seashore

Smith, S. M., V. Decker, and C. Phillips. 2011. Coastal Forest monitoring Protocol, Cape Cod National Seashore. Natural Resource Report NPS/NER/NRR-2011/388. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado.

Cook, R.P., K.M. Boland, and T. Dolbeare. July 2006. Inventory of Small Mammals at Cape Cod National Seashore with Recommendations for Long-Term Monitoring. Technical Report NPS/NER/NRTR - 2006/047. National Park Service, Boston, MA.*

Kearney, S.B. and R.P. Cook. August 2001. Status of Grassland and Heathland Birds at Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts. Technical Report NPS/BSO-RNR/NRTR/2002-3. National Park Service, Boston, MA.

Journal Articles and Theses

Boland, K.M., and Litvaitis, J.A. 2008. Role of predation and hunting on cottontail mortality at Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts. Canadian Journal of Zoology 86: 918-927

Buchanan, S.W. 2012. Ecology of the eastern hognose snake (Heterodon platirhinos) at Cape Cod National Seashore, Barnstable County, Massachusetts. MS Thesis, Montclair State University. pp. 104.

Lewis, Z.R., R. Kerney, and J. Hanken. 2011. Lung development in lungless salamanders! Developmental Biology 356: 250-251.

Gwilliam, E. L. 2004. Extent and composition of open coastal sandplain plant communities of the Cape Cod National Seashore. MS Thesis, University of Rhode Island. pp 80.

Gwilliam, E. L. 2004. Extent and composition of open coastal sandplain plant communities of the Cape Cod National Seashore. MS Thesis, University of Rhode Island. pp 80.

O'Connell, A. F., N.W. Talancy, L.L. Bailey, J.R. Sauer, R. Cook, and A.T.Gilbert. 2006. Estimating site occupancy and detection probability parameters for mammals in a coastal ecosystem. Journal of Wildlife Management 70(6): 1625-1633.*

Von Holle, B., K.A. Joseph, E.F. Largay, and R.G. Lohnes. 2006. Facilitations between the introduced nitrogen-fixing tree, Robinia pseudoacacia, and nonnative plant species in the glacial outwash upland ecosystem of Cape Cod, MA. Biodiversity and Conservation 15(7): 2197-2215.
 
East Harbor

An aerial photograph of East Harbor. East Harbor has been the subject of intensive study pertaining to the reintroduction of salt water via Cape Cod Bay (the body of water seen in the foreground).

NPS Photo


Park-Wide / Multi-System - top of page
As we gain a greater understanding of the complexities of the world in which we live, a comprehensive approach to science becomes more important. Multi-system research is essential in order to grasp the potential effects of an increasing population and climate change on Cape Cod's natural and cultural resources. The effects of atmospheric deposition, rising sea-levels, ground-water withdrawal, and environmental contaminants are all examples of variables with wide-ranging implications. Cape Cod National Seashore in conjunction with the USGS has established protocols for hydrological monitoring as well as atmospheric and meteorological monitoring.
 

USGS Articles and Reports

Cross, V., Bratton, J.F., Crusius, J., Colman, J.A., and McCobb, T.D., 2008, Submarine hydrological data from Cape Cod National Seashore, U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2006-1169

Masterson, J.P. and J.W. Portnoy. 2005. . US Geological Survey. General Information Product 13.*

Did You Know?

kettle pond

Kettle pond surface water levels are controlled by local groundwater levels. Around Cape Cod National Seashore ponds, these levels range from six to nine feet above average sea level. The bottoms of all the kettle ponds are below sea level.