“Mannahatta had more ecological communities per acre than Yellowstone, more native plant species per acre than Yosemite, and more birds than the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Mannahatta housed wolves, black bears, mountain lions, beavers, mink, and river otters; whales, porpoises, seals, and the occasional sea turtle visited its harbor.”

If any of you haven’t seen this before, its quite amazing and it will get you thinking about where we currently live and how it has changed since 1609. The Mannahatta project has essentially recreated Manhattan as it was before the arrival of Europeans by looking at original boat logs, archaeological evidence, historic records, etc. The Welikia Project is an effort to do the same for all boroughs.

Explore the links below! The first is an interactive map of Manhattan which can show you how it is today, and how it was in 1609. Type in your address of favorite place, see what once existed there and how it has changed. The other link is a list of species which likely existed in our current city.  If anyone is interested in checking this book out let me know and I’ll bring it to our next meeting.




The famous Deer Island "eggs" in Boston. These state-of-the-art digesters harvest methane gas to power the wastewater treatment plant. Photo courtesy of Dann Blackwood via USGS.

Wastewater treatment – what’s not to love?  It’s an elegant formula of chemistry, biology, and human ingenuity that transforms waste into a resource.  Whether it’s stormwater, open roof tops, or abandoned piers, we frequently encounter the waste-to-resource paradigm as we study urban ecology.  Wastewater treatment provides clean, freshwater inputs to waterways, alternate daily cover for landfills, and (dare I say it?) fertilizer pellets.  Yet there is still more that we can extract.  Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, New York City will soon join other cities in taking its utilization of wastewater one step further.  The New York Times reports that the City’s Department of Environmental Protection wants to harvest 100% of the methane produced in the treatment plant digesters to be used a clean, renewable energy source for heat and electricity.  The City is also looking for opportunities capitalize on the footprint of these plants by installing solar and wind energy projects.  Read more about the proposal here.


Hi all, so it sounds like weekends are not doable for The Point organization, but there is an event the last weekend in February called Bronx Parks Speak Up (see link above) that the organization will have representatives at. This might be a great event to attend in lieu of a field trip to the Point. We could alternatively do a field trip to The Point, but it would need to be on a week day.

Post your thoughts on this!!

Hudson River Writers

Here are two books written by women who have spent a considerable amount of time on the Hudson River:

My River Chronicles

Jessica DuLong

A U.S. Coast Guard-licensed merchant marine officer is one of the world’s only female fireboat engineers.


(Book and title forthcoming)

Susan Fox Rogers

A member of  the faculty of Bard College where she teaches creative writing and is co-director of First Year Seminar.


These two authors were part of the Hudson River Conference given at Lincoln Center last fall. For a list of the day’s events and speakers, click here.


Pale Male (left) and Lola at their Upper East Side perch. Courtesy of palemale.com

It didn’t make Page Six, but a gossip report about Pale Male, the famous red-tailed hawk of Central Park, and his new mate was prominently reported in the New York Post.  It just goes to show you that biodiversity can capture the urban public’s interest in the same way that the make-ups and break-ups of New York City high society can.  With a perch on a posh Fifth Avenue co-op, a personal portrait in an award-winning feature-length documentary, and his celebrated relationship with Lola, his mate of 8 years, Pale Male may as well be considered high society.  Sadly, The Post reported yesterday that Lola has been missing for a month, and that Pale Male has taken up with a new, younger female.  Read the full article here.

View of Manhattan from the Eagle Street Rooftop Farm, Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Photo credit: Jason Aloisio

What factors will play a role in improving the urban landscape?  According to Sarah Goodyear of Grist, several of our urban ecology topics have made the list.  Check out G (for green roofs), P (for pavement demolition), U (for urban agriculture), and the rest of the ABCs in The Urban Landscape from A to Z on Grist.org.

7 billion people.

By the end of this year there will be 7 billion people on the planet, the majority of which will be living in cities.  Despite being seemingly at odds with the natural environment, urban populations require resources and services that can be provided by local ecosystems.  All it takes is a new way of thinking about urban land use.  This wonderful short from National Geographic Magazine gives us some perspective on the global population crisis and highlights the importance of our research in urban ecology.