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Maryland, Delaware, & New Jersey

During this past year, construction of the land cover map went into full frenzy. Substantial video was flown throughout the project area during fall 1996, including a special mission to get coverage of several freshwater wetlands in New Jersey which would have been simply mudflats during the regular flights. Initial mapping has been done on the barrier islands of Maryland and Virginia, which proved challenging. The first draft of the land cover map for Maryland and Delaware should be completed in early spring of 1998. No time frame has yet been established for New Jersey.

The land stewardship part of the project has begun in earnest. The project is following the key developed by New Mexico and working with the individual land managers to develop the status assignments for each property. Later this year, a meeting among the various land conservation organizations will be held in Delaware to review land ownership boundaries and determine management status for publicly and privately owned conservation areas in Delaware.

In 1996, GAP investigators in Delaware provided assistance to the Delaware Natural Heritage Program (NHP), a GAP cooperator, in a project to inventory breeding birds in the Great Cypress Swamp (GCS), a 10,000 acre forested swamp in southern Delaware and Maryland’s upper eastern shore. Up to this time, thorough inventories of the swamp had not been undertaken. GAP investigators initially accompanied NHP staff to bird point-count locations and trained NHP staff in the use of GPS receivers to record the locations. Assistance was then provided in converting the GPS data to GIS coverages and in producing final maps. The results of the inventory include a GIS coverage of breeding birds detected at 47 point-count locations. Seven of the ten most abundant nesting birds were forest-interior neotropical migratory species, and a total of twelve warbler species were discovered within the GCS during the nesting season (Heckscher and Wilson 1996). Additional surveys in the GCS are being conducted this year, as well as surveys in other important natural areas in Delaware.

In 1996 and 1997, GAP investigators continued small mammal live-trapping, bird and amphibian surveys, and other survey work in the Blackbird Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve watershed in Delaware. This watershed is being considered as a reference site for various purposes.

The Biodiversity Research Consortium Project for Maryland and Delaware has been completed. The project was funded by EPA and carried out by GAP investigators and cooperators from TNC, Maryland DNR Wildlife and Heritage Division, Delaware Natural Heritage Program, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The hexagon-based maps of distributional limits for all vertebrate and butterfly species have gone through expert review and are ready to be used in the species distribution modeling phase of GAP.

The newly released Atlas of New Jersey Butterflies (Iftner and Wright 1996) was obtained and will be used in developing distribution maps for butterflies in New Jersey.

GAP biologists participated in the first year of the North American Amphibian Monitoring Program. These data will likely be used in validating models for frogs and toads. There are also data from a calling frog and toad survey in Maryland, conducted by using the Breeding Bird Survey methodology, which could be used much like the BBS data.

The Natural Heritage Programs in Delaware and New Jersey continue to provide biannual updates of the Biological and Conservation Databases to GAP for use in mapping the distributions of rare, threatened, and endangered species. The Delaware NHP has been a key cooperator thus far, and the New Jersey NHP will likely take on an official cooperator role this year.

Progress continues toward completion of the habitat requirement models for all of the vertebrate and butterfly species to be modeled. Investigators are in the process of developing a preliminary species-habitat association matrix to be used in initial modeling of bird species distributions in Delaware. The purpose of this effort is to test various GIS modeling approaches and to provide preliminary maps to county planners who are in the process of developing comprehensive land use plans. Breeding Bird Atlas GIS coverages developed by GAP investigators will later be compared to distributions that are based on the standard modeling approach, which uses the hexagon-based distributional limits map.

Mid-Atlantic GAP (MidA-GAP) has participated in two regional coordination meetings to establish a better working relationship, plan for edge-matching, and work on proposals for funding regional assessments using the GAP products. This has vastly increased the project staff’s ability to coordinate aerial videography equipment, share insights on methods, and pursue related research together. Additionally, MidA-GAP is developing a pilot project with NASA and the U.S. Navy to apply GAP land cover mapping methods to more finely resolved base imagery.

Literature Cited

Heckscher, C.M., and C.L. Wilson. 1996. An avian inventory of the Great Cypress (North Pocomoke) Swamp: Preliminary determination of forest dependent species composition, relative abundance, and implications for conservation. An unpubl. rept. submitted to the NBS and Delaware Wild Lands, Inc. De. Nat. Her. Prog., De. Div. Fish and WIldl., Dover. 70 pp.

Iftner, D.C., and D.M. Wright. 1996. Atlas of New Jersey butterflies. Special Private Publ. Sparta, New Jersey. 28 pp.

Project Information for Maryland

Project Information for Delaware

Project Information for New Jersey

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