Wildlife

Help us Complete Phase 3, Indian Ridge Habitat Restoration

April 21, 2022

This spring and summer of 2022, we are excited to undertake the third and final phase of our ambitious Indian Ridge Habitat Restoration. Read on to learn what to expect this year, and how you can help us complete this transformative project!

If you have visited in the past two years, you may have noticed our earlier work underway, focused on creating plant communities that would provide both aesthetic and habitat value. Our staff and contractors removed invasive species like Norway Maples from the Ridge and the slopes below it. Replacing them with native shrubs and white-flowered Silverbell trees not only brought a more cohesive aesthetic to the area, but also improved habitat resources for resident and migratory birds.

While we have made substantial progress, we still have many areas of plain turf grass in between the replanted sections. We also need to replace the path along the Ridge – currently narrow, damaged in many spots, and made of non-sustainable asphalt. It is therefore time for the final and most impressive phase of this project. Working with the designs and plants already in place (including what has already been added in Phases 1 and 2), we will complete this colorful and diverse landscape for one of our most popular areas, and improve the path for both visitors and staff.

Phase 3 Design – Sedge and Wildflower Meadow

For Phase 3, we turned to Larry Weaner Landscape Associates to create the landscape design. Principal and founder Larry Weaner has been a leading voice in the movement to shift from reliance on turf grass to diverse and ecologically-friendly groundcover. For many years, he has been working with us on the most effective ways to implement turf grass replacement throughout the Cemetery – one section of the landscape at a time, and always with the goal of complementing the monuments, trees, and other features that are already in place.

Larry has worked with Jenna Webster, Senior Associate at Larry Weaner Landscape Associates, to create a native planting scheme that will stretch across the entire 1,800-foot Ridge. It features a sedge and wildflower meadow along with an ambitious series of landscape character zones. These distinct zones – North Ridge Entry, Longfellow Woods, Ridge Meadow, Gardner’s Woods, Auburn Glade, and South Ridge Entry – draw inspiration from the legacy of the Ridge’s historic landscape, including some of its most notable monuments.

Landscape design map
Design scheme by Larry Weaner Landscape Associates

Improving the Path

We will also replace most of the narrow, damaged asphalt path with a permeable paving alternative. Asphalt produces harmful gases during production and installation, and increases the “heat island effect” in urban areas. As part of our commitment to sustainability, we are using a more environmentally-friendly stone aggregate instead. The larger and smoother path can also accommodate more visitors.

What to Expect When

Work on Phase 3 will begin in late spring 2022 with plant installations, which will continue through the summer. Throughout that time, and into the fall, our staff will be providing critical early maintenance for the new plants as needed. Meanwhile, landscape construction company Capizzi & Co. will install the new path at the same time. Please be aware that access to Indian Ridge will be closed during path construction, from June to October 2022.

Support Indian Ridge

You can help make this last step of the Indian Ridge Habitat Restoration a success! By making a gift to this project, you are enabling us to bring this new landscape to life and make the space more enjoyable for everyone. Thank you for your support!

Donate here

Citizen Science Naturalist Program at Mount Auburn Cemetery 2022

March 4, 2022

Over the past decade, Mount Auburn’s role in the community has evolved. It has always been an active cemetery, arboretum and cultural institution, popular among locals and tourists alike.  But now it is also a significant destination for biodiversity research of critical urban wildlife habitat.

The mission of the Citizen Science Naturalist Program is to create a community of well-trained volunteers to support field research at Mount Auburn Cemetery.  The volunteers will receive training from a diverse group of local experts that will enable each volunteer to become a capable research assistant and informal educator to the public.

The training program will include ten virtual classroom sessions covering flora and fauna, as well as field note taking, nature photography, history, informal educator training and the use of apps for crowd-sourced science.  Additional learning opportunities will be provided throughout the year, including tutorial walks and research project field trainings.

All volunteers are asked to provide their own:

  • All-weather field journal
  • Waterproof mechanical pencil
  • Measuring tape or ruler
  • 10x lens
  • Binoculars
  • Digital camera or a phone with a camera

All classroom trainings will be held on zoom in 2022.

Virtual Classroom Training Schedule

  1. Fungi & Lichens
    • Saturday March 12, 2022 from 4:00 – 5:00pm.
  2. Tree & Shrub Phenology Study
    • Monday March 21, 2022 from 7:00 – 8:30pm.
  3. Insects
    • Wednesday March 23, 2022 from 10:00am – 12:00pm.
  4. Amphibians & Reptiles
    • Saturday March 26, 2022 from 12:00pm – 2:00pm.
  5. Birds
    • Wednesday April 6, 2022 from 7:00 – 8:30pm.
  6. Mammals
    • Saturday April 2, 2022 from 1:00 – 3:00pm.
  7. Informal Educators & Apps for Crowd-Sourced Science
    • Monday April 4, 2022 from 7:00 – 8:30pm.
  8. Field Notes & Nature Photography
    • Saturday April 9, 2022 from 12:00 – 2:00pm.
  9. Mount Auburn Cemetery History 101
    • Wednesday April 13, 2022 from 10:00 – 11:00am.
  10. Intro to Plant ID & Botany
    • Wednesday April 20, 2022 from 7:00 – 8:00pm.

If you would like to sign up for trainings or would like more information about the program, please contact: Paul Kwiatkowski, Director of Urban Ecology & Sustainability: pkwiatkowski@mountauburn.org

How You Can Support Mount Auburn’s Wildlife

September 29, 2020

An incredible diversity of wildlife thrives at Mount Auburn Cemetery – thanks in large part to our Urban Ecology and Citizen Science initiatives. And our goal is to keep making this habitat even better.

Tree with bat house attached.

We have a talented team of consulting scientists studying the populations of amphibians, arthropods, bats, birds, dragonflies, and pollinators that call Mount Auburn home. Even in this unusual year, we are excited to report that we have even expanded several of the studies. One highlight is Lesley University professor Chris Richardson installing bat houses in parts of the Cemetery where he has spotted activity over the past few years. This will allow us to monitor breeding activity moving forward. You can spot the bat houses at several areas around the Cemetery, including near Indian Ridge Path.

During your visits you might encounter some these scientists, who are doing much more than collecting data – they are helping our wildlife thrive in this urban landscape. And this critical work must go forward despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Please help us continue these projects by making a special donation to support wildlife ecology today. Follow this link to make a gift to our Ecological Education and Biodiversity Studies Fund, which enables all of these efforts at Mount Auburn.

Thanks for supporting our wildlife initiatives!

To learn more and get involved with our Citizen Science Naturalist Program – including virtual sessions, independent data collection, and future announcements – contact Paul Kwiatkowski, Director of Urban Ecology & Sustainability, at pkwiatkowski@mountauburn.org.

Big Brown Bat at Mount Auburn

March 11, 2020

Urban Bat Diversity and Activity Study, Mount Auburn Cemetery, June 5, 2019.  Lesley University researcher Chris Richardson retrieves and bands a Big Brown Bat caught in a mist net at Auburn Lake.  He then performs a physical examination of the bat, including checking its face for signs of White Nose Syndrome (look closely at its mouth and you’ll see a fragment of a beetle that the bat had captured just before being caught itself in the net), measuring its wing length and checking its wings for signs of previous infection by the fungus that causes White Nose Syndrome. 

The tiny holes visible in the bat’s wing are a sign that it had the disease but survived.  Big Brown Bats have a higher recovery rate from White Nose Syndrome than other species of bats, so Chris also collects a blood sample from this bat to add to efforts to figure out how Big Browns are able to fight off the infection.  He also swabs the bat’s face to collect any evidence it might still carry of the fungus.  The band placed on the bat’s wing has a number that will be added to a Mass Fish & Wildlife database, so that if this bat is caught again in the future, researchers will know some of its history.  The band rests securely on the wing’s bony edge like a cuff bracelet and does not pierce the wing itself.

Although gloves are worn for safety by the person handling the bat, as you can see, the research assistants are thrilled to find out how soft and silky a bat’s fur and wings are.  The bat keeps up a steady and vocal commentary of its opinion about what is happening, but is unharmed by the experience and has contributed to efforts to better understand White Nose Syndrome and how it might be contained or stopped.