Witchwood Biodiversity Report 2020

I am very excited to present the second annual Witchwood Biodiversity Report.
Last year's was an informal summary of what I learned in 2019. For 2020, I'm attempting a more scientific style as a step toward publishing some day in a scholarly journal. Scientific reports aren't everyone's cup of tea, so I'm posting a short summary here and a link to the full document here.

As always, questions, comments, and corrections are eagerly welcomed. I'm an enthusiastic amateur, and I know I have an enormous amount to learn.

Witchwood Biodiversity Report 2020 - Summary

This report documents the biodiversity of the Witchwood, six beautiful acres of forest in Windsor, New Hampshire, USA with a four-seasons brook, forest seeps, vernal pools, and a wonderful diversity of plants, animals, fungi, and more.

In this survey, I opportunistically documented any macroorganism I encountered, but the main focus was plants. This report is the result of approximately 190 hours of active surveying in 2019 and 2020, plus trail camera data and some contributions from friends. 

Thus far, I’ve documented 190 plant species, 170 animals, and 62 fungi. The plants break down into 173 vascular plants, 12 mosses, 4 liverworts, and 1 green alga. In 2020, I found 38 plant species I’d not found in 2019, and failed to re-find only 6 from 2019.

I’ve found 14 non-native species, including 4 invasives: multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora), bittersweet nightshade (Solanum dulcamara), purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), and beech scale (Cryptococcus fagisuga). Only 5% of the vascular plant species found were non-native, compared to 31% of all New England vascular plant species. 

Natural communities documented include Hemlock-Spruce-Northern Hardwood, Subacid Forest Seep, Emergent Marsh, and Mesic Herbaceous River Channel, plus two potential vernal pools. 

I was very excited to find American jumpseed (Persicaria virginiana) - possibly the first documented occurrence in Hillsborough County since 1879. Tentative identification of far eastern smartweed (Persicaria extremiorientalis) requires validation, but may be the first documented occurrence in the state, if confirmed.

I submitted vouchers to the state of New Hampshire for the American jumpseed and three other species that NH Natural Heritage’s county checklist does not list as occurring in Hillsborough County: cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), broad-leaved helleborine (Epipactis helleborine), and dwarf St. John’s-wort (Hypericum mutilum). And I identified nine more missing from that list to voucher in future.

Next year, I plan to formalize my survey methods, establishing quadrats in each natural community and inventorying them seasonally. I will collect more data on the potential vernal pools in hopes of confirming them as such. I will devote more time to phenology, documenting flowering and fruiting times of key species. And, as always, I will savor the peace and beauty of the place and continue to learn all I can from and about it. I can hardly wait for Spring!

If you're up for reading (or skimming!) the full report, click here or the image below. It's long, but there are also lots of photos, maps, and charts. Check it out!