2014-10-30 / Nature

NBS Fireside Lectures

By Jack Kelly


The Snowy Egret, above, and Great Blue Herons are two of the marsh bird species affected by toxins in the environment addressed by Dr. Charles Clarkson’s lecture on Dec. 4. (Photo by Jack Kelly) The Snowy Egret, above, and Great Blue Herons are two of the marsh bird species affected by toxins in the environment addressed by Dr. Charles Clarkson’s lecture on Dec. 4. (Photo by Jack Kelly) The Norman Bird Sanctuary (NBS) is offering a four-part Fireside Educational Lecture Series that will feature scientists and educators and will focus on the marine, wetland and freshwater habitats in the Aquidneck Island area. Participants in the program will gather in Mabel’s Studio to learn about watershed habitats, the diversity of plants and wildlife found there, and how humans and climate change are impacting these regions.

The first lecture on Oct. 30 will feature Dr. Margot Schwalbe, of Tufts University. Dr. Schwalbe will explain how fish are able to sense their surroundings through electroreception and unique hearing abilities, as well as discuss the lateral line and the resulting behaviors in fish.

On Thursday, Nov. 6, from 6:30- 7:30 p.m., Charles Avenengo of Salve Regina University and Norman Bird Sanctuary naturalist, will present “Four Summers of Marine Life” at the Third Beach Education Center. Avenengo will address the past four summers at the center, where the NBS staff has been actively observing and identifying marine life. Captured specimens are displayed in the center’s seasonal aquarium and among the collected marine creatures were a large number of unique and interesting tropical fish. Avenengo will explain the presence of these fish and how they managed to find their way to Rhode Island’s coastal waters from the Gulf Stream.

On Thursday, Dec. 4, Dr. Charles Clarkson, of Roger Williams University, will discuss mercury in the environment and its impact on waterbirds. This lecture will tackle the questions of anthropogenic toxins and the powerful neurotoxin mercury.

Returning on Dec. 11, Clarkson will present “Rising Seas, Shrinking Habitat: Marsh Birds and Rhode Island.” This lecture will discuss the Saltmarsh Habitat and Avian Research Program (SHARP), which is a comprehensive collaboration between universities and federal and state governments along the East Coast of the United States.

A question and answer period will follow the talks and refreshments including wine and cheese will be offered. Admission is $6 for members and $8 for non-members. For information or to register for any session in the lecture series, visit normanbirdsanctuary.org or call 401-846-2577.

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