jn “Ting” Darling National Wildlife Refuge Biological Science Technician Avery Renshaw recently reported on the Sanibel Refuge’s following biological activities for the month of June:
– The biology team and shelter staff worked with Sarah Anderson, a master’s student in health, environment, and science journalism at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, on an article explaining how hydrology and pollution by nutrients affect the southwest Florida mangrove forests and the refuge. She came out on a mangrove restoration trip to Benedict Key, an island owned by a refuge. It has experienced intense erosion due to the loss of the root structure of the mangrove. To combat this, the island partners are working together to plant mangroves and re-establish an oyster reef to protect the growing mangroves. Anderson discussed other refuge hydrology projects aimed at restoring water flows in mangrove systems, such as culvert installations. Another issue highlighted is the impact of nutrient pollution on mangrove systems. This is a significant issue for the refuge due to the increased threat of water quality issues in the Lake Okeechobee system.
– Regular surveys of beach shorebirds continue throughout the summer. There are 24 small tern nests on the refuge. They are a state-designated endangered species in Florida.
– The biology team, with assistance from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, conducted a survey of colonial waders and waterfowl nesting. It had 120 brown pelicans, 116 double-crested cormorants and seven reddish egrets – a state-designated endangered species – nests. All nests were either in the “in incubation”, “chicks” Where “unknown” phase. The sanctuary is likely in or approaching peak breeding season for many of the species it monitors during surveys.