The All-taxa biodiversity Inventory of Van Cortlandt Park is a long term initiative to document and identify all biological species living in the park.  In addition, ecological research will be integrated, where we apply the disciplines of community and ecosystem ecology. For example, applying ecological stoichiometry theory to the parks freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems, and incorporating ecological theory to restoration ecology.

(1) Science: Document and/or create voucher specimens of all living species and study the community and ecosystem ecology of the park . Create a network of people with taxonomic skill sets, focused all on a single location.

(2) Education and Outreach: Engage and excite the public- students, teachers, visitors, citizen scientists about biodiversity on a local scale by making all components and products of the ATBI accessible. In addition we will host events for the public where citizen collaborators can become part of the exploration.

(3) Management: Provide data to NYC Parks to inform management plans and decisions. A major challenge for park resource managers is incorporating the wealth of biodiversity information into their management efforts. There are, however, many opportunities to utilize biodiversity data that NYC Parks can implement, for instance:

  • Establishing baseline data for future monitoring projects
  • Documenting and protecting significant microhabitats for biodiversity
  • Developing a plan to use “indicator taxa” for accessing ecosystem integrity
  • Using this data as a reference to manage other local NYC Parks

Why Van Cortlandt Park?

  1. With baseline data on many organismal groups, it makes sense to start building from where it stands than to start from scratch 
  2. The forest contains one of the highest concentrations of rare plants in the city
  3. Third largest park in NYC, with diverse habitats(e.g, Vault hill, Tibbetts brook)

Why support this project?

  • This will be the first urban biodiversity data set in the USA
  • Ecological research has rarely been integrated into any biological inventory
  • Local extinctions in VCP and other NYC parks is happening at a unprecedented rate
  • The countless benefits of urban biodiversity on human health and well-being
  • How can you protect whats “there”, if there’s no vouchered specimens of any sort to be used as a reference?

What does the future hold? NYC parks represent a huge diversity of habitat types including salt marshes, one of the most threatened in North America. Therefore, in order to get a better picture of the biodiversity in NYC we hope to grow our research program to include these important habitats.