Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Crevice Community Monitoring

Adopt-a-Crevice Community

What are Crevice Communities? Why should we study them?

Top of Monadnock, September 2008

Crevice communities are the small pockets of vegetation that thrive on rocky terrain on the top of mountains. These communities are specifically adapted to the extreme conditions we find on exposed summits in the northeast. These pockets of life are often small, and therefore very susceptible to human disturbances, including trampling and climate change. It is important to monitor these communities so we can assess how humans have an impact on them and mountain ecosystems. MERE currently is monitoring five of these communities, to observe how they are altered by the changing climate and hiker impacts.

Join our program!

Engage your students in inquiry-based learning where the results are applied to real world scenarios. We are looking for high school or college classes who are interested in joining our Adopt-a-Crevice Community research initiative. Participating in the project can help high-school teachers address many science standards including science process skills, earth space science, life science, science technology, engineering and mathematics grade span expectations. Take the learning outside, while you help us track changes on the summit of Mount Monadnock.

For more information please contact Peter Palmiotto.

Keene High School’s AP Environmental Science Class with Antioch students and professors from MERE on the top of Monadnock. September 2008.

The Educational Goals of MERE include getting the community involved in studying Monadnock. That’s why MERE is collaborating with the AP Environmental Studies (APES) students at Keene High. By working with APES students, we are able to establish permanent plots that the students will be able to return to year after year to monitor and document changes in the communities. Working with these students on this project will assist them in learning research and sampling methods, while also gaining the ability to accurately monitor the crevice communities of Monadnock.

Completed Crevice Community Research

Antioch Professor Peter Palmiotto instructing APES students on sampling procedures

So far, we have made our pioneer trip up the mountain with the APES students. In September of 2008, Peter Palmiotto of Antioch University New England, four Antioch graduate students, two Keene High Teachers, and over two full classes of students climbed Monadnock with the goal of testing their sampling methods. Prior to the trip, the students had worked with MERE graduate students and their teacher, Marshall Davenson, to create a plan on how to measure and monitor the crevice communities. The goal of this trip was not to establish permanent plots, but to test their sampling methods and get a feel for the experiment. Although the students were faced with many tough challenges, they were able to leave the mountain that day knowing some of the challenges of conducting field research and ideas on how to improve their methods in order to set up permanent plots in the future.

Data collected in the summer of 2010 and 2011 on five crevice communities compose MERE’s crevice community data. Check back soon for our results.