the trustees of reservations
On The Land
The Trustees of Reservations

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Volunteer Spotlight: CR Fish Inventory by UMass Student Matthew Cembrola

With over 360 Conservation Restriction properties in over 70 Massachusetts communities, volunteers are an integral piece of the puzzle to ensure that The Trustees of Reservations are able to monitor every single such property on an annual basis.  At last count, eighteen volunteers generously assist us with CR monitoring, from MetroWest to the South and North Shores, to the western MA hilltowns and southern Berkshires.  A couple within that number apply their unique knowledge to help conduct field studies for the CR Program!     

One such volunteer is Matthew Cembrola.  A graduate student at UMass Amherst finishing a master's degree in Environmental Conservation, with a research focus on fish genetics, Matthew conducted a preliminary ecological inventory of fish in a stream that passes through a CR property in central Massachusetts.  His classmate Sarah Martinez also helped out for the day. This was a great opportunity for Matthew and Sarah to apply their knowledge in the field, helping both The Trustees and a grateful CR landowner (and avid fisherman!) understand more about the species found on the protected property.

Matthew and Sarah survey spots for minnow traps in the beaver pond.

Sampling a distance of just over 500 feet of the stream, we found six species of fish - many blacknose and longnose dace, white suckerfish, several fallfish, a chain pickerel, and one pumpkinseed sunfish.  Matt and Sarah examined each and every fish to record species count and measurement data - the largest of which was a 24 cm white suckerfish!  Other species observed in the process included abundant crayfish, two common salamander species, and some startled green and pickerel frogs. 
Matthew and Sarah with Trustees' staff, preparing to ID and measure the fish!
This was just a preliminary assessment, but since we observed no trout, it seems likely that the stream may not support a trout population beyond the stocking season.  Beyond the study itself, it was nice to spend a monitoring and field study visit in rich woodlands with a soundtrack of running water and a curious song sparrow watching over us, surrounded by April wildflowers - check out all the trillium nodding above the banks!

Matthew is our first CR Field Study Volunteer, but we are looking for several more!  If you want to help us and CR landowners better understand their protected property, and you have applicable knowledge in an area of ecology or natural resources to share by conducting a short study, we have a unique volunteer opportunity with the CR Program!  Click here to check out the position description and we will help to set up a study on a suitable Conservation Restriction property in your neck of the woods.  A big shout out and thanks to Matt and Sarah for a great contribution to our CR property documentation! 

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