December 29, 2010
What is biodiversity? It refers to the total variety of life on Earth or the total variety of life in a given area. New York State's biodiversity includes different species of animals, plants, fungi-even the smallest of organisms and bacteria that live here. There are tens of thousands of species of plants and animals in our state, and more species are being discovered every day. Did you know that there are 4,000 species of beetles that call New York home?
With so many plants and animals living here, does it matter whether some become extinct (the species no longer exists) or endangered (the species is in danger of extinction)?
You bet it does! Nature is a delicate balance. When wolves were extirpated from our state (they no longer live here but exist elsewhere), there were fewer natural predators for deer. The deer population grew and threatened some plant species because of overgrazing. Helping as many plants and animals as possible is important for humans and other species. Likewise, individual species help us meet our basic needs:
• Animals and plants provide food and materials for clothing, shelter and fuel.
• Insects pollinate crops and control agricultural pests.
• Plants produce the oxygen we breathe and are the source for many medicines.
• Microorganisms decompose waste products and recycle nutrients.
How does a species become extinct or endangered? Today, the biggest threats come from:
• Changes to habitat (building or development)
• The spread of invasive species
• Illegal collection (people catching, trapping, or removing protected animals, birds, or plants from the wild)
• Climate change
Send us an e-mail and tell us what you think about Outdoor Discovery.
Subscribe to Conservationist magazine - New York's award-winning publication with astonishingly beautiful photography and captivating articles.
Learn the best places to view wildlife at DEC's Watchable Wildlife pages.
In My Own Backyard
DEC's website has an online map to help you find which species of animals and plants live in your neighborhood. New York Nature Explorer allows you to choose a county, town or watershed (or pick your own location) and receive a list of the animals, plants and natural communities found there. As you see the animals and plants in your community, add them to a "life list" in your Outdoor Discovery notebook or journal.
"Save Our Species" Poster
Visit DEC's List of Endangered, Threatened and Special Concern Fish and Wildlife Species of New York State. Find a favorite species, and learn some facts about it (either from the Internet or the library). Learn what threatens your animal's welfare, and think of some creative solutions to help it. Create a "Save Our Species" poster, adding a picture or drawing and some facts about the animal. Share this information with your family, class or scout troop. Read Conservationist for Kids for more information and activities!
Because of New York State's fiscal crisis, the Department of Environmental Conservation, along with other state agencies, is currently reducing its workforce. As a result, DEC will close both the Rogers (Chenango County) and Stony Kill (Dutchess County) Environmental Education Centers. DEC apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause and thanks past supporters of the centers. The centers are expected to be closed as of January 1, 2011.
Family Fun: Birding for Kids
Thursday, December 30 at 10:00 AM
Parent(s) and child(ren) must accompany each other. Please call 518-475-0291 to register by December 27.
Annual New Year's Day Bird Count
Saturday, January 1 at 9:00 AM
Bring binoculars, and dress warmly.
Wild Cats of New York State
Saturday, January 8 at 2:00 PM
Thursday, December 30 from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM
Call 518-456-0655 to register. Cost: $2.00/person, $5.00/family, children under 5 free.
Thursdays, December 30 and January 6 at 4:30 PM
For children in grades K-5. No registration required.
Cross-Country Ski Tour
Sunday, January 2 at 1:00 PM
Bring your own skis, or rent a pair, and glide through The Woods on a guided tour. Ski rental: $2.00/pair; free for FORNP members.
Thursday, January 6 at 6:00 PM
Learn how to use snowshoes, and take a guided walk along the trails. Snowshoe rental: $2.00/pair; free for FORNP members. Registration required; call 716-683-5959 to sign up.
Thursday, January 6 at 6:30 PM
For adults and children age 10 and older. Materials fee: $4.00/starter kit; FORNP members: $2.00/starter kit.
Outdoor Adventure Club Series: Learning to Cross-Country Ski
Saturday, January 8 at 10:00 AM
Ski rentals: $2.00/pair; free for FORNP members. For youth ages 12 to 16.