Peter Palmiotto, PhD
Department of Environmental Studies
Private property comprises 62% of the land located within the 6 million acres of the Adirondack Park in New York State. It is on these private lands that biodiversity must be documented and conservation measures taken to preserve the unique quality of the Adirondack Park. The Tahawus Club is a privately owned property located within the southern High Peaks Wilderness region of the Adirondack Park in Newcomb, New York. A natural resource inventory of the plant communities on the club lands was conducted from May-July 2003. The canopy, understory and herbaceous layers of the forest were surveyed using a systematic sampling approach based on a combination of point and fixed area sampling. Spring ephemerals were also surveyed where they were found in abundance. Canopy trees were sampled using the variable plot radius methodology and data for basal area, density, mean DBH and diameter distribution were examined. The understory layer was sampled at each sample point using fixed area plots in which density values for each species were measured. The percent coverage of herbaceous species and the density for tree seedlings was sampled in 1x1 m plots at each sampling point. Based on the criteria established by the NYS Natural heritage Program, the information was analyzed and used to identify the current plant communities located on the property. Using species richness and the Shannon Weiner diversity index, biodiversity values were calculated for each community type and used as a means for comparative analysis. As a result of the inventory, a total of 22 community types were documented on the Tahawus Club, 8 of which were forested natural communities and 14 were non-forested or artificially created and maintained. Existing within these habitat types, the study documented the following: 3 surficial soil types, 4 bedrock types, several wetland communities, 0.25 miles of riverine communities located in the Hudson River, 215 vascular plant species, 27 species of birds, 8 species of mammals and 6 species of amphibians. This mix of forested, open fields and plantation habitat types add diversity to the landscape on the Tahawus Club and allows for a wide range of plant and animal communities to exist. The results of this inventory used, in conjunction, with the natural, agricultural and industrial history of the lands were used to develop a more thorough understanding of the biological diversity on the Tahawus Club and its role within the greater Adirondack Park.