Impact of Wildlife Research & Conservation

Support Bird Conservation 

Our conservation science experts work on our wildlife sanctuaries and beyond to ensure that the nature of Massachusetts continues to thrive. We create and enhance habitat on our wildlife sanctuaries and support native plants and wildlife across the state through active land management, monitoring, and research.

Accomplishments from FY 2016 include, but are not limited to:

  • Completed forest inventories to estimate the amount of carbon sequestered by trees on our larger wildlife sanctuaries. Thanks to our conservation-oriented approach to managing our lands, our forests hold 50% more carbon than is typical for the Northeast.
  • Prepared a scientific manuscript based on surveys for odonates (dragonflies and damselflies) on Mass Audubon wildlife sanctuaries as part of our Sanctuary-based Inventory and Monitoring Program. The surveys, which began in earnest in the 1990s, provide a comprehensive look at patterns of species distribution and relative richness across Massachusetts.
  • Collected data on breeding birds at Quabbin Reservoir and Bartlett Experimental Forest as part of the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). NEON is a continental-scale ecological observation facility, sponsored by the National Science Foundation that gathers and synthesizes data on the impacts of climate change, land-use change, and invasive species on natural resources and biodiversity.
  • Expanded the Foresters for the Birds Program to cover the entire state of Massachusetts. Staff developed a new toolkit to accommodate this expansion and feedback from participating Massachusetts foresters. This partnership between Mass Audubon and the Department of Conservation and Recreation trains consulting foresters to manage private lands for forest bird habitat. As 80% of Massachusetts’ forests are privately owned, this program has the potential to greatly affect the quality of forest habitat in the state.
  • Collaborated with researchers at the American Museum of Natural History’s Great Gull Island Project on the conservation of roseate terns. Great Gull Island is the largest colony of common and roseate terns in North America. Staff assisted with banding and initiated a study of the feeding patterns of common terns in order to investigate the consequences of changing fish stocks and feeding behavior.
  • Adopted The Bobolink Project from the University of Connecticut, University of Vermont, and University of Rhode Island. The Bobolink Project is a proven approach that can protect birds and farms. This innovative work provides a new way to connect people who are willing to make financial donations to sustain our wildlife and rural heritage with farmers who are willing to help, but who also face stark economic realities. 
  • Continued to collaborate on NOAA’s Stellwagen Sanctuary Seabird Stewards project, and ongoing survey of the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary IBA. Mass Audubon-trained volunteers gathered data on tens of thousands of seabird sightings in 2016 over five dedicated trips on a NOAA vessel and dozens of whale watch trips. 

Project Spotlight 

Sea Turtle Rescue Project

Every fall and early winter, staff and volunteers from Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary scour the shores of Cape Cod Bay in search of cold-stunned stranded sea turtles as part of the Sea Turtle Rescue Project. Turtles that are still alive are then transported to the New England Aquarium for rehabilitation and release. Fall 2014, Wellfleet Bay experienced a record-breaking rescue season: more than 1,255 sea turtles washed ashore compared to the previous record of 413 in 2012.