Welcome to Lower Hudson PRISM's Invasives Strike Force EcoQuest Survey page!!!
Do you love being outdoors and searching for interesting critters and plants in nature? Or maybe you love taking photos when you are out hiking or gardening? Or maybe you just love scavenger hunts! Our EcoQuest surveys allow you to become a part of the action and help us document invasive species in our region while having fun in the process! To become an EcoQuest surveyor, all you need to do is download an easy- to-use mobile app, iNaturalist, and register here for further instructions. Once iNaturalist is downloaded, you can immediately start photographing and uploading pictures, instantly connecting you to thousands of other citizen scientists just like you!
To help you build up your knowledge of invasive species in our region, we offer a monthly challenge which keys in on (a) focal invasive species. Each month, Lower Hudson PRISM staff will announce a new scavenger hunt-style challenge to find and document an invasive plant or animal (and their native counterpart!) by taking and sharing photos via iNaturalist. See below for this November's Flock to Hemlock! challenge, instructions and other past challenges. While you do not have to join our specific project to participate in the challenge, we HIGHLY encourage you to do so. Search for us, Invasives Strike Force EcoQuest , on iNaturalist and join today to upload your photos directly to our project! Become an official member of our team today!
Flock to Hemlock! : November 2019 - PAGE UNDER CONSTRUCTION - For photos and general ID guides, please visit: https://blogs.cornell.edu/nyshemlockinitiative/
Image to be loaded soon (under construction)- Hemlocks can be distinguished from other conifers by their needles which are relatively flat, have rounded tips and two parallel white stripes on their underside. Hemlock cones grow to be only ~3/4 - 1" in length with roujnded scales that mature in the fall (left). Hemlock woolly adelgid begins leaving behind a distinctive white, woolly mass in late fall on hemlock twigs and they will continue producing this cottony residue throughout the winter. Photo credit: https://blogs.cornell.edu/nyshemlockinitiative/
Hemlocks are the third most common tree in New York State and are a foundation species in our forests, meaning they create the ecosystem in which they reside. Hemlocks provide essential ecosystem services like preventing soil erosion and promoting good water quality by providing shade and water filtration so that aquatic species in underlying streams and native vegetation in the understory can thrive. They also provide critical habitat for many native species of animals in our region including bald eagles, porcupines, moose and numerous species of arthropods.
The hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) is an aphid-like invasive forest pest that has already swept through and continues to persist in our region, killing many of our native hemlocks in the Northeast. It uses a piercing mouthpart to feed off of hemlock twigs, essentially clogging up the twig tissue and stopping the flow of important nutrients to the buds, preventing new growth. At this time of year, its presence on hemlock twigs becomes apparent due to a white cottony mass that the insect leaves behind on hemlock twigs near the base of the needle. We need your help in finding hemlocks that show these early signs of HWA while management and control is still an option as well as finding and mapping HEALTHY hemlocks so we can preserve the gene pool and identify any places that the adelgid may not be present!
For a GREAT guide on hemlocks and the adelgid, including key ID features and more information on how you can help track and monitor hemlocks in our region, please visit the New York State Hemlock's Initiative's webpages below. These guides will be more than enough to get you started on the EcoQuest and are good educational resources even for those surveying in New Jersey!
Image to be loaded soon (under construction): The life cycle of the hemlock woolly adelgid consists of 2 simultaneous generations (1st generation=sistens and 2nd generation=progrediens), both of which are completed on hemlocks. The sistens generation begins producing the distinctive cottony wool on hemlock twigs at this time of year and will continue doing so throughout the winter. Keep a look out!
I want in! How do I get started?
1. Download the iNaturalist App by visiting your phone's app store, or register to use it on iNaturalist.org
2. Visit iNaturalist's Video Tutorial page which has very clear step by step instructions on how to photograph your target species and upload to the iNaturalist database
3. Sign-up at https://www.nynjtc.org/civicrm/event/info?id=10121&reset=1 so you receive notice of each month's species.
3. Take photos of this month's EcoQuest challenge target specie(s) by using the iNaturalist app directly (note: this is the easiest way to take and upload photos since your location can automatically be part of your observation)
Take photos of the target specie(s) on your smart phone, then later upload them to the iNaturalist site on your computer.
4. You can either add photos directly to our iNaturalist project Invasives Strike Force EcoQuest or simply upload your photos to the overall iNaturalist database. Our curators will then sort through the posts and add any invasives you found to our project!
5. Keep searching! Your photos will be used to help scientists track the spread of invasives in our region. It's important stuff!
This is fun! How do I stay informed of each month's challenge?
It's simple! Once you've downloaded iNaturalist and signed up for the project, you will receive notifications from iNaturalist about the next month's challenge as the date approaches! If you have any questions or problems, just shoot an email to LH-PRISM's Invasive Species Citizen Science Coordinator, Brent Boscarino, at firstname.lastname@example.org and he will be happy to help!
Please also visit the NYBG EcoFlora page to learn more about their history of EcoQuest challenges in New York City.
Pursuing Porcelainberry! : October 2019