Future Research Needs in BHI

A discussion at the 2008 Boston Harbor Islands Science Symposium, facilitated by Superintendent Bruce Jacobson.


Here are some of the ideas and suggestions that symposium participants had for future research in the park:

  • Further integrate biology and geology
  • Use ecosystem-based management as an approach and method for every endeavor.
  • Involve rangers more in research. They are on site all the time and doing their own tracking studies and observations. By giving them research abstracts and putting them in touch with researchers, these efforts can be coordinated and they can help each other. Yellowstone NP has a virtual resource library that might serve as an example to help get everyone involved.
  • A call for well-focused research on climate change- how sea level rise and temperature changes will affect the species and environments on the islands.
  • Involve young students by having them help research. We could adapt a program to them and give them resources to carry on the project. Make them relate to and benefit urban youth curricula thus diversifying our audience.
  • Bringing teachers into the scientific research going on- invite them to come to islands to check up on projects, see if there are any they want to partner up with and then they can take that knowledge to the classroom.
  • Look more at restoration ecology- move towards a population that is less non-native.
  • Increased human-impact and social science research. (It was noted that this is currently a high priority of the park.)
  • Question regarding ethics and relative value of collecting data using destructive methods (such as insect collection). As an example, is there a chance that a rare species may be extirpated by the study methods? Response:
    • Some mortality is inevitable in order to understand insect biodiversity at a finer scale, as is the goal of the Exploring the Microwilderness / ATBI project. The amount of sampling in a study such as this is considered to be insignificant compared to the populations of insect species, according to best available science. More benign methods of sampling such as imagery – based identification have limitations for the ability to identify species. That said, there are good reasons to limit collection including Park Service policies to protect park resources, and the practical challenge of keeping up with identification of samples. The number of collected samples for the ATBI project has declined in the park and will again be limited in 2009.
    • Further comments on this topic following the symposium: To get a true understanding of biodiversity in the park, we need to use passive sampling techniques that capture a broad range of insects--including many species which we would not collect by more active methods (i.e., nets and hand-collecting) . In all of our sampling however, we try to find a balance between capturing the maximum biodiversity and minimizing over-sampling of any particular habitat. And as you pointed out, with the exception of large, well-studied groups such as butterflies and dragonflies, most insects need to be put under a microscope to be identified--and that means they need to be "immobilized." – Dr. Jessica Rykken

Last updated: February 26, 2015

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