Brookhaven Hosts 16th Annual Pine Barrens Research Forum

The 16th Annual Pine Barrens Research Forum took place at Brookhaven National Laboratory’s Berkner Hall on October 6 and 7. Each October since 1996, the Forum has brought together scientists, students, and environmentalists from around New York to discuss the ecology of the Long Island Pine Barrens. This year’s event included an eclectic mix of research, history, and conservation.

pine barrens

The Long Island Pine Barrens are anything but barren — host to a variety of plants and animals, and the topic of the annual Pine Barrens Research Forum at Brookhaven National Lab.

The first day was devoted to a series of talks from researchers working in the Long Island area, particularly in the Central Pine Barrens forest — the largest continuous woodland on Long Island, and a site of high ecological importance. The Long Island Pine Barrens has the greatest diversity of species anywhere in the state of New York. Topics included groundwater, Lyme disease, and the history of the American chestnut on Long Island.

The Berkner lobby was converted into a showcase for a variety of research projects, many of which have taken place on Brookhaven property. Several studies focused on the wildlife at Brookhaven, including box turtles, southern flying squirrels, and bats.

Several conservation-minded organizations, including Brookhaven’s own Open Space Stewardship Program, founded and run by the Lab’s Office of Educational Programs, also had exhibits set up. Many of the exhibitors had arrayed their displays with natural items: turtle shells, animal pelts, and collections of plants native to Long Island.

The first half of the second day was devoted to a student symposium featuring joint research by students from Sayville High School, Patchogue-Medford High School, and the Central Pine Barrens Commission’s partner in Pisa, Italy, Migliarino-San Rossore-Massaciuccoli (MSRM) Region Park.

Finally, the forum ended with a field trip to Hubbard County Park, the only place where the Central Pine Barrens intersects the Peconic Bay — making it an ecologically unique place on the island, bringing together species from both habitats to create a unique mix found nowhere else on the island.

In his closing remarks, Tim Green, BNL’s Cultural and Natural Resource manager, remarked on the lack of a catchphrase for this year’s forum. “We just couldn’t find anything that would fit all the topics,” he said. “But the Pine Barrens are a very eclectic ecosystem, and in that way, I think having such an eclectic mix of topics made this year’s forum a success.”

The 16th Annual Pine Barrens Research Forum was sponsored by Brookhaven National Laboratory, Central Pine Barrens Commission, the L.I. Groundwater Research Institute at Stony Brook, and the Foundation for Ecological Research in the Northeast.

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