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Biodiversity Research Program


The Biodiversity Research Program List* includes hundreds of plants and animals found in Westchester County Parks, including:

  • 1,168 vascular plants with 25 rare species as listed by New York State

  • 94 species of dragonflies and damselflies

  • 311 species of birds including several rare or threatened

  • 11 species of snakes

  •  8 species of turtles

  • 88 species of butterflies

  • 65 kinds of mollusks

  • 33 species of mammals

  • 145 moths

*As of summer 2003



The discoveries of the Biodiversity Research Program have led to the enactment of several local laws and the creation of new programs and initiatives, including: 

  • The Westchester County Endangered Species Act and List

  • The Westchester Important Bird Area Act

  • The Westchester Native Plant Executive Order

  • The Westchester County Pesticide Reduction Act

  • The Bronx River Initiative

  • The Biotic Corridor of Northern Westchester

  • The Long Island Sound Stewardship Program

  • Species Recovery Projects

  • Development of Natural Resource Management Plans for parks

  • Creation of Biodiversity Reserves for the protection of rare species and habitat


Future Projects

The Biodiversity Research Program will continue to catalogue flora and fauna and to identify critical habitats. Some ongoing and planned research projects include:

  • Monitoring a Wood Turtle population with radio telemetry and building turtle nesting exclosure

  • Monitoring salt marsh and freshwater quality

  • Propagating native plants as food and larval sources for rare butterfly species

  • Providing habitat for rare snakes and other species

  • Managing meadows and building nesting boxes for rare birds and waterfowl

  • Constructing exclosures to study the effects of white-tailed deer overpopulation

  • Vernal pool surveys



The Biodiversity Research Program was started by the Westchester County Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation Division to survey the biological life of nearly 18,000 acres and to enhance the environmental stewardship of the park system.

Using the information and data that will be obtained, the department will track biodiversity through a variety of methods, including:

  • Creating lists of all plant and animal species including vascular plants, mammals, breeding birds, reptiles, amphibians, butterflies, dragonflies, fish, and mollusks.

  • Categorizing each species according to its abundance or rarity within the county.

  • Documenting locations and populations of all rare species.

  • Creating maps with a locator system to pinpoint significant species sites.

  • Creating a comprehensive database so that all biodiversity data is readily available in a variety of reporting forms

  • Comparing and contrasting Westchester parkland biodiversity with that of New York State



The staff of Westchester County Department of Parks, Recreation & Conservation gratefully acknowledges the assistance and partnership of the following groups & organizations:

  • Wildlife Conservation Society

  • Metropolitan Conservation Alliance 

  • Audubon Local Chapters

  • The New York Natural Heritage Program 

  • Hudson River Estuary Plan Biodiversity Committee 

  • Federated Conservationists of Westchester County (FCWC)

  • The Biodiversity Center at The American Museum of Natural History 

  • The New York and Conneticut Torrey Botanical Society

  •  SUNY College of Environmental Forestry

  • Local Butterfly, Dragonfly, and Mushroom Clubs