Sunken Forest Monitoring

Jordan Raphael, National Park Service Biologist, has conducted research that demonstrates how pressures from erosion, sea-level rise, and white-tailed deer are threatening a globally rare ecosystem, Fire Island National Seashore’s Sunken Forest.

The Sunken Forest, located on Fire Island National Seashore, is a critically imperiled habitat and is one of only two known old-growth maritime holly forests in the world. Through regular monitoring or vegetation plots and wells, Jordan is able to build upon a dataset that dates back nearly a half-century. Analysis of new and baseline data has helped NPS identify major drivers influencing changes within the Sunken Forest. These major drivers include; white-tailed deer herbivory, erosion, sea level rise, increased storm events, and canopy-gap dynamics.