Inspired by the number of SUNY New Paltz students, faculty, and staff who are passionate about supporting and protecting different living organisms on our campus and across the region, the Office of Campus Sustainability formed a Biodiversity Initiative to bring these different interests together.
To carry out the Biodiversity Initiative, the Office of Campus Sustainability hired New Paltz alum Laura Wyeth (Biology '18) to work during the 2018-19 academic year to meet the first objective of the group: meeting the requirements of Bee Campus USA. Throughout this year, Laura and members of the Biodiversity Initiative:
- Developed the Campus Pollinator Habitat Plan, which includes a listing of native plants to support pollinators
- Trained the grounds department continuing education on the importance of protecting pollinators and specific plants they can choose to support pollinators
- Worked with Facilities Management to establish the campus' largest pollinator-friendly meadow in the spring of 2019, which was immediately replicated in four other locations on campus
- Developed educational signage for the pollinator-friendly meadow
- Organized two interactive hands-on educational workshops about pollinators, a Seed Soiree and a meadow opening ceremony in the spring of 2019
- Completed the application for Bee Campus USA
SUNY New Paltz became a Bee Campus USA in the summer of 2019!
Bee Campus USA
Our Bee Campus USA Committee is comprised of:
- Laura Wyeth, Biology Department, Chair
- Rick Drosdowich, Grounds Department
- Lisa Mitten, Office of Campus Sustainability
- Emily Puthoff, Art Department (Sculpture) and the Hudson Valley Bee Habitat
- Joel Oppenheimer, Psychological Counseling Center
- Andrea Frank, Art Department (Photography)
Biodiversity of SUNY New Paltz: iNaturalist
As humans, as social animals, we thrive on connection- to our environment and to each other. Nowadays, though, to safeguard our collective health, we're spending much more of our time apart. As we miss each other we realize how much joy, reassurance, and inspiration those social connections bring to us. Luckily, we have a whole world to turn to for comfort- there is always something to connect with in the natural world. Something interesting and beautiful is happening all the time and everywhere. These treasures are not limited to the rainforests and the coral reefs; though they may be small, silent, or seemingly hidden, they are here. All we need to do to find them is stop, take a few deep breaths, and notice as the wonders reveal themselves. When we make these connections, the grandeur of life opens to us. We find in nature a refuge from our uniquely human concerns and the inspiration to face our next challenges.
The Biodiversity Initiative at SUNY New Paltz
was founded to encourage connection with the life that surrounds us here on our species-rich campus, and to help catalogue and celebrate these non-human neighbors. We are proud to present a new resource to encourage this connection, our own iNaturalist project: Biodiversity of SUNY New Paltz
is an online global citizen science project, an interactive platform for recording the creatures that live all around us, in our forests, farms, towns, and our own backyards:
-Participants observe wild species of all kinds- plants, fungi, birds, fish, beetles, lichen, known and unknown - take a photo, and post it to the site.
-The organism is then identified by a community of human experts, with a little assistance from machine learning.
-All are free to join and post their species observations; you can download the iNaturalist app to your phone or create a profile at inaturalist.org on your computer and upload your photos from there. -And if you're knowledgeable about the taxonomy of a species, you can contribute by helping to make and verify identifications.
Our Biodiversity of SUNY New Paltz project was launched this past May of 2020; with the help of campus community and regular iNaturalist users, we now have over 500 individual observations of more than 300 different species as of the fall of 2020! That's only a small fraction of the life that surrounds us, though- we need your help to discover the rest.
So, check it out:
-Scroll through the observation list to see which species have been spotted here.
-Check out the map to find the sighting hotspots.
-Best of all, join us by posting your own observations!
Take a walk around the campus quads, along the pond system, past the pollinator meadow, and down towards the south forest. With curious eyes, you'll discover all sorts of things you hadn't noticed before. The seasons will unfold more fully as you learn what to look for- the return of the red-winged blackbirds in early spring, newly sprouting mushrooms after a late spring rain, Monarch butterflies in high summer, and the golden glow of sugar maples and honey locust foliage in fall.
Tree Campus USA & the Tree Committee
SUNY New Paltz's Tree Committee is actively committed to preserving and protecting trees. Recent projects, Arbor Day celebrations, and achievements include:
During the summer of 2014, biology student Dakota Snyder ’15 and Emerita Professor Carol Rietsma conducted a campus-wide tree inventory and GIS map. Josh Simons of CRREO compiled the raw tree data and created a GIS map that is available for the public to view. The project was administered by Professor Eric Keeling of Biology. Professor Keeling uses the inventory on a weekly basis in his classes. Search the inventory at http://crreo.newpaltz.edu/trees/
This project was funded by Campus Auxiliary Services with the support of the Sustainability Committee. Over 2,000 trees in actively managed areas on campus (not the South Forest) were surveyed. Data was collected about each tree including the species (both common and scientific name), GPS location, size, condition, photo, etc. Biology classes are using the inventory for campus-as-a-living-lab-style teaching and learning and cross-disciplinary collaborations are being discussed.