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Project Descriptions

Adirondack Long-Term Ecological Monitoring Program (ALTEMP)

Project Descriptions

#1 Beaver Colony

Objective: document locations of beaver colonies annually on HWF

Active beaver lodges (those with a food pile or cache) are located on Huntington Wildlife Forest (HWF) during the fall beaver colony survey. Lodges are located during ground surveys and an aerial survey in mid-November using a Geographic Positioning System and/or topographic maps. A detailed GIS map of lodge locations and survey routes is available in the historic data file of the Adirondack Ecological Center.

#2 Breeding Birds

Objective: document relative abundance and species diversity of breeding birds on Huntington Wildlife Forest (HWF)

Beginning in 1984, bird counts (5-6) were conducted in early June annually on 4 unlimited-radius plots per site on 4 sites. The original intent was to compare forest management types between seedling-sapling hardwood (Maple Sale), sapling-pole hardwood (Sucker Brook), large pole-small sawtimber mixed (Adjidaumo) (1983-86), red spruce (Picea rubens) pole (Hare Area), and old-growth hardwood (Natural Area) stands, however with the lack of replication the data are most useful as a study of change in breeding bird communities over time within each of the stands.

#2A Breeding Birds, Natural Area

Objective: document relative abundance and species diversity of breeding birds in the Natural Area, an unmanaged (old-growth) hardwood stand.

Bird counts (5-6) were conducted in early June annually on 6 unlimited-radius plots per habitat. The plots are those used in the Webb et al. 1977 study (sampled 1952-1963).

#2B Bicknell’s Thrush

Bicknell’s thrush is surveyed on Mount Adams, Vanderwhacker Mountain, and some other high peaks in the central Adirondacks. This project is in cooperation with the Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS).

#2C Project Feeder Watch

Since 2004, AEC has participated in the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s program. Counts are made of all birds at a feeder behind the AEC (Rt 28N side) every other week following established protocol.

#3 Winter Birds


  • Determine species composition and relative abundance of avian communities in winter
  • Monitor long-term population trends of winter resident birds
  • Determine influences of habitat on species composition and abundance.

Abundance and species diversity of breeding birds was investigated on Huntington Wildlife Forest (HWF) from 1984-2006 in the Natural Area, an unmanaged (old-growth) hardwood stand. Bird counts (2-5) were conducted in winter annually on 6 unlimited-radius plots.

#4 Scent Stations as an Indicator of Coyote Population Trends on Huntington Forest


  • Determine long-term trends in coyote population abundance on HWF
  • Provide baseline data for gross examination of the numerical response of the HWF coyote population to fluctuations in prey abundance

Scent stations were approximately 1 m in diameter, consist of dry, sifted loam-to-clay soil spread to a depth of 0.16 cm, and are baited with a fatty acid attractant. Eight stations were located 0.5 km apart on each of 9 road sections that are > 1.6 km apart. Road sections were located on HWF (6) and roads owned by Finch & Pruyn Co. (3). One survey was done annually in mid-September from 1987-1990. Stations were checked for tracks the day after being set. Relative coyote abundance was calculated for each line as the proportion of stations where >1 track was observed.

#5 Creel/Fish Management


  • Track angler effort and catch rates for game fish (person-hours/fish caught)
  • Document changes in fish community composition and demography
  • Track catch and release of stocked brown trout
  • Track tagged individuals for mark-recapture survival/population estimation.

For three lakes on HWF (Catlin, Arbutus, and Rich Lakes), anglers recorded data on fishing trips from 1975-present. Variables: the number of anglers, time spent, number of fish kept and released, number of bullhead caught, tag numbers and fins clip, length, and method used (fly, bait, lure, etc).

#6 Limnology

Objective: Generate and record baseline data on HWF lakes which will be useful to future research efforts and the detection of both seasonal and long-term changes in limnological characteristics of lake waters (specifically, temperature, dissolved oxygen (DO), pH and conductivity).

Sampling was on 7 water bodies (Arbutus, Catlin, Deer, Wolf, and Rich Lakes; Military and Lodo Ponds) 5 times/year (winter, spring turnover, twice in summer, fall turnover). Sampling is at the deepest point.

#6B Limnological Survey II

Since 2001, AEC has participated in the Adirondack Watershed Institute program. Five HWF lakes are sampled by AEC staff during June, July and August. Chlorophyll-a, phosphorus, visibility, and other parameters are measured and AWI returns annual reports.

#7 Loon Nesting


  • Document reproductive success of common loons for Arbutus, Catlin, Deer, Wolf, and Rich Lakes on HWF.
  • Document cause of nest abandonment/mortality of eggs, chicks, and adult birds.
  • Document use of HWF lakes by banded loons (see Adirondack Cooperative Loon Program study objectives).

Since 1987, surveyed for nest locations, hatching success (number of eggs/nest), and fledging success (number chicks fledged/pair adult loons) during June and July by canoe or on shore.

#8 Phenology

Objective: provide data to enhance research projects in the HWF region and document changes and trends in species phenology and events.

Variables recorded since 1939:

  • Lake ice in – ice out dates
  • Ice thickness
  • High water date on Rich Lake
  • First leaf, Persian lilac
  • Blossoming of trillium species, witch hobble, and serviceberry (at Stone Garage)
  • Full leaf-out of sugar maple and beech (at Stone Garage)
  • First peepers heard (at Stone Garage)
  • Migration of bird species, especially robins, loons, swallows and hooded mergansers
  • Sightings of “unusual” animals
  • Winter severity (number of days with >15 inches snow on ground, and number days with minimum temp < 0o F
  • Unusual weather events (late spring snow, hail, damaging wind, ice, etc.)
  • Climatological summary by season
  • Frost occurrence between 15 May and 30 August, and estimated severity/plant damage
  • Seed crop for masting and fruiting species (subjective scale)
  • Chestnut tree growth (trees located at intersection of SB Road and AD Road)
  • Other variables as appropriate

#9 Ruffed Grouse Drumming

Objective: document long-term population trends of ruffed grouse in a northern hardwood ecosystem.

Three survey routes were established in 1984: one along State Route 28N and two along the HWF loop road and associated spurs. Surveys were made in the following years: 1984-1992, 1995, 1996, and 2001-present. Starting in 1991, the 28N route was discontinued from the survey. The methodology of the 1984-1986 surveys differed considerably with later surveys and, therefore, only data collected since 1987 should be used in population trend analysis.

Routes were surveyed starting ½ hour prior to sunrise on 2-5 mornings each year between April 14 and May 9. Counts were standardized relative to weather conditions and timing. Observers counted the number of individual ruffed grouse heard drumming (“drummers”) at route stations during a 4-minute period.

#10 Small Mammals - snap trapping

Objective: document small mammal abundance and population changes in managed and unmanaged forests of HWF.

Electric Fence, Hare Area, Maple Sale, Natural Area, and Sucker Brook were sampled from 1983-present. In 1991, Arbutus Road and Riano Meadow were also sampled. See Charlotte Demers for complete methods and site locations as these have changed over time.

Trapping methods have changed over time; currently, a 7x7 grid (20m apart) of station, each with two live traps, is used. A large Sherman trap and either a Tomahawk or a small Sherman trap are placed at each station and baited with peanut butter/wax/rolled oat cubes. Traps are open for 5 nights and checked in the morning. Sampling occurred for 2, 1-week periods in June and July (but not always both). In earlier studies from the 1950s-70s, museum special snap traps and pitfall traps were used (lethal collection).

#11 Trends in the Snowshoe Hare Population of the “Hare Area” on Huntington Wildlife Forest


  1. Assess long-term trends in hare populations in a spruce-fir forest
  2. Compare hare population trends with relative abundance of selected predators

The count period was January to March 1987-1992 and December to March 1993-2001 (December was added to increase the count period). Counts were conducted between 2-4 times per month, weather permitting. Counts were conducted 24-48 hours after the end of a measurable snowfall sufficient to obscure previous tracks. Observers traveled through the Hare Area on snowshoes on a 5.3 km route divided into 7 sections.

#12 Water Level

Objective: Observe the water level fluctuations within selected watersheds (Arbutus, Deer, Catlin, Wolf, and Rich Lakes, and Fishing Brook)

Originally established two gauges on Arbutus Lake outlet through the USGS Regional Integrated Lake Watershed Acidification Study (RILWAS) in 1985. Gauges are read as soon after ice out as possible and read until ice in, on a weekly basis if possible. Only the Fishing Brook bridge gauge is currently used. See detailed history and data in ALTEMP folder.

#12A Arbutus Lake pH Monitoring

Objective: Monitor daily and year-round pH of Arbutus Lake

ALTEMP #6 (Limnological Survey) also contains some pH data for Arbutus Lake.

#13 Wildlife Observation Survey


  1. Document wildlife seen via vehicle
  2. Monitor trends in relative abundance and location of selected wildlife species
  3. Calculate # deer observed in North and South units of HWF (for deer management)

During May-August, researchers using the gated portion of HWF are asked to fill out forms detailing road segments driven and any wildlife seen (bigger than a crow, typically), even if no wildlife is seen. Total miles driven and total species seen are tallied. Marked animals (including deer, beaver, other mammals, and snapping turtles) are especially of interest, as are waterfowl and raptors.

#14 Migratory Waterfowl

Objective: Determine abundance of waterfowl during spring and autumn migrations

During migration (ice-out to mid-May) and fall (mid-September to ice-in). Visual observations (flock size, species, and location, and sex and age ratios if possible) are collected on HWF and in the towns of Newcomb and Long Lake.

# 15 Atmospheric/Meteorological

Daily weather information. All data are collected with manual instrumentation: wind-up hygrothermograph, weighing-type rain bucket, manual snow measurements and permanent snow stake. The history of the installation and physical location of equipment is in report in ALTEMP file. There are other, automated weather collection instruments associated with the NADP, MDN, CASTNET, and other national observation networks that can be accessed either online or by contacting AEC staff.

Dataset contains the following information:

  • MaxDailyTemp(F) - maximum daily temperature
  • MinDailyTemp(F) - minimum daily temperature
  • 6PMTemp(F) - temperature at 6:00 PM (1800 hrs)
  • Precip (or TotalDailyMeltedPrecipitation) - either rain, or snow melted to water (inches)
  • Snow or DailySnowfall(inches) - amount of daily snow
  • DailySnowOnGround(inches) - total snow on ground (cumulative)

#16 White-tailed Deer Tracks and Pellets


  1. Assess relative abundance of white-tailed deer on HWF
  2. Assess habitat use of white-tailed deer on HWF

Roads on Huntington Wildlife Forest, Santanoni Preserve, and Finch, Pruyn timber company land were traveled and the number of deer tracks per section was tallied. For Section Codes see surveyroute.txt. Track counts were conducted in mid-July to early August 1974, 1975, 1980, 1982-98. Presence or absence of deer, coyote and other mid-sized mammals was recorded in 100m raked road sections in habitats (uncut old growth, 0-15 yr old shelterwood stand, timber harvest edge, unthinned pole-sized stand, and an “unhunted mosaic” in the Military Road area).

Pellet counts were conducted in August 1984-86 on 180 plots (84 in the North Unit and 96 in the South Unit of HWF) primarily along gridlines. Pellet counts were deemed less reliable and more labor intensive than track counts and were abandoned.

#17 Winter Tracks


1. Determine relative abundance of selected mammals during each winter on HWF.

2. Use population trend data of predators from Objective 1 to determine the impact of various biotic and abiotic factors on predator populations.

Road segments on Huntington Wildlife Forest are snowmobiled from December-March on days when there has been fresh snow < 48 hours before but no snow since sunset, about 1600 (4PM) the day before. Road sections are 80 chains (100m) long and marked by chainage markers. December 1990-March 1991 would be the winter of 1991. Calculate trackmhr= count of tracks/[(0.40) times (hours since last snow)].

#18 Nest Boxes


  1. Document use of nest boxes by wood ducks and hooded mergansers
  2. Document nesting chronology of these species
  3. Document hatching success of eggs
  4. Determine whether nest box placement use is correlated with location characteristics

Nest boxes were established along lake shores and riparian areas in 1987 and monitored from 1988-2006. Eight boxes were established in 1981, 43 in 1987 and 28 in 1988 for a total of 79 boxes. Each year, fewer boxes were functional due to lack of manpower for maintenance; in 2005, 33 boxes were monitored.

Most boxes did not have predator guards. Boxes were checked biweekly from mid-April to end of June for presence of nesting material and eggs. Eggs were weighed, measured (length and width) and numbered. Weight, bill, length and wing measurements were taken on adults and hatchlings and adults were banded.

In the 1970’s, artificial nesting structures for wood ducks (yellow birch logs placed near Boundary Pond and south end of Sucker Brook) had no data on use. In 1981, 8 nest boxes were placed near Fishing Brook, Rich Lake flow, Military Lake, and Lodo Pond. These boxes were not checked until 1986.

#19 Woodcock Singing Survey

Objective: Measure relative abundance of woodcock in the central Adirondacks

In 1968, HWF staff began a partnership with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to monitor woodcock populations in the Northeastern US. One night in late April or early May, observers listen for 2 minutes for woodcock male singing (“peenting”) beginning at 22 minutes after sunset. Observers record the total number of males at each of 10 stops separated by 0.4 mile on a route in Long Lake, NY. The route (Big Brook #101, originally route #16) begins ¾ mile south of Cedarlands Boy Scout Reservation.

#20 Snapping Turtle

Objective: Document observations of marked snapping turtles during nesting

Female snapping turtles were tagged during the 1960s and are observed in mid-summer nesting in sandy areas near roads, shorelines, and other areas. Location, tag number, and date are recorded.

#21 Continuous Forest Inventory


  1. Document tree growth and mortality, species dominance, and other tree characteristics
  2. Document changes in forest conditions

In 1971, 1976, 1981, 1991, and 2001, CFI plots were measured by Forest Operations staff and students. Data and protocols are available on the ESF FOREST project website (a NASA-sponsored effort to share ground-collected forest data for remote sensing, change analyses, and other applications).

#22 Exclosures

Objective: Document location, history of deer exclosures on HWF and surrounding region

Exclosures are fenced areas, usually smaller than an acre but sometimes encompassing many acres (e.g., the Electric Fence on HWF) that exclude herbivores (principally deer, but also snowshoe hare) and provide a means to assess change in vegetation over time due to herbivory.

This ALTEMP project does not contain the vegetation data or the GIS map of exclosure locations on HWF: see a variety of studies including Dr. Ralph Nyland’s exclosure data and Lott (MS 2004) for a summary of exclosure vegetation data.

#23 Aquatic Invertebrates

Objective: Inventory aquatic invertebrates in various habitats on HWF

This study was never undertaken. A list of species does exist.

#24 Chipmunk/Red Squirrel

Objective: Evaluate annual population of red squirrels on HWF

A tape of a red squirrel “chrrrrr” territorial call was played for 4 counts in March in the Hare Area at 10 stations with a detection distance of 100m. Location of each squirrel observed or calling was recorded. This survey was discontinued in 1991 because ALTEMP #17 collected information on squirrel relative abundance.

#25 Habitat Inventory


  1. Assess structural vegetation characteristics and floristics at small mammal trapping stations, songbird listening stations, and sampling units
  2. Detect changes in vegetation over time
  3. Relate changes in habitat to changes in mammal, bird and amphibian populations.

Habitat inventory was carried out in 5 areas (Natural Area, Sucker Brook, Hare Area, Maple Sale, and Electric Fence) in 1988-89 by AEC staff. Plots were reestablished and measured in 2002-03 (in locations as close as possible to original plots, which were not permanently marked). In 2002, we measured all trees >10cm DBH on 11.4m radius circle (area= 0.04ha or 0.1 acre), and measured trees <10cm and all other variables on 5m radius circle (area= 0.008ha). Two perpendicular transects 22.8m long were used for percent cover of canopy and shrubs, and 4 square 1m2 sub-plots within the 5m circle were used for ground cover measurements. See methodology description “ALTEMP25 Habitat Inventory Methodology for Huntington Wildlife Forest.doc”

#26 Seed Production

Objective: Document seed production of 7 tree species annually.

Fifty circular plots with seed collection buckets were established in the Natural Area in 1988. Twenty-five plots were established in an upland deciduous stand that contained primarily northern hardwoods such as sugar maple, American beech, and yellow birch. The other 25 plots were located down slope in a mixed deciduous/coniferous stand (the mixed stand) that contained yellow birch, red maple, red spruce, balsam fir, and eastern hemlock, associated with sugar maple, beech, white pine or Northern white cedar.

Seed traps (13.9 L [5 gal] capacity buckets) in the center of each plot and collected seeds annually from July to November. If a bucket was tipped over due to disturbance by a bear or some other factor, we censored it from the survey for that year. We calculated mean beech and sugar maple seeds per trap and estimated seed production for the hardwood and mixed areas, but could include ranges and standard errors (SE) only for 1996-2003 due to a lack of per-trap data for earlier years.

Yellow birch seeds are tiny so they are now classified as none, light (1-10 seeds), moderate (11-50), or heavy (>51) seed. Spruce, fir and hemlock seeds are tiny and difficult to differentiate and were combined for the fall count. Spring collections are even numbered collections; Fall collections are odd numbered collections.

#27 Great Blue Heron Nesting

Objective: Document great blue heron nesting activity and success

Heron presence, nests and rookeries have been monitored on HWF since 1939.

#28 Amphibians

I. Pitfall/Drift-fence study

1. Document composition, relative abundance and habitat preference of amphibians (frogs, toads and salamanders) within 6 aquatic and 2 forested habitats.

2. Develop and test a population index system to determine annual fluctuations in abundance of selected amphibians.

3. Document species diversity, distribution and breeding season of amphibians.

Amphibians were captured using drift fences and pit traps (fence/pit traps) permanently located in each habitat type. Drift fences of aluminum valley, 50.00 cm in height were buried 10.00 cm in the soil. Fencing was laid out in a “T.” Pit traps (320 oz, 24.77 x 25.40 x 20.96 cm) was placed at 7.50 m intervals (rock and vegetation conditions permitting) on both sides of the fence and buried flush with the soil surface.

Each habitat had 2 fence/pit trapping units with the exception of Military Lake (4 traps). Traps were operated during or immediately post-precipitation in May, June, July and August for 2, 2 day long trapping periods each month.

II. Pool-breeding Amphibian Reproductive Success


  1. Assess reproductive success of wood frogs and spotted salamanders in vernal pools and beaver ponds and relative abundance of metamorphs
  2. Assess phenology of breeding of wood frogs and spotted salamanders

In 2001, we undertook an evaluative study of several methods: egg mass searches with drift fences, cover objects, and visual encounter transects. Egg mass searching with drift fencing was deemed the best method. These methods were used in 1999-2004, and egg mass surveys are currently conducted annually beginning in mid-April (no drift fencing). Number of pools surveyed/year varies yearly. Pools are checked for number of eggs of each species, and revisited periodically to determine hatching dates, estimate numbers of juveniles and predators in pools, and in some years, drift fencing is employed to catch and document numbers of metamorphs (new adults). See Coleman 2001, Endriss 2001, and Karraker 2006.

III. Terrestrial Salamander Population Trends and Habitat Use


  1. Assess relative abundance of terrestrial salamanders
  2. Assess relationship of salamander species to habitat features
  3. Assess changes in population demographics over time

#29 Deer Hunts

Objective: Maintain deer density of Northern Unit of HWF at or below 12 deer/mi2.

Hunts were conducted during 1966-70 and 1984. See Pittman-Robertson Reports.

#30 Raptor Nest Locations

Objective: Document raptor nest locations.

Nests are documented and the trees flagged/marked. Species nesting is recorded if possible.