Mapping Ant Diversity Across Van Cortlandt Park

The Buggy Down Bronx:
Mapping Ant Diversity Across Van Cortlandt Park
by: Alex Byrne

Early experimental design for examining nutrient use in ant communities. This picture shows a preference for sugar which seems to be habitat dependent (cotton ball pictured on left is soaked in sugar, cotton ball on the right  is soaked in oil).

As the Jurassic faded into the Cretaceous, planet earth began to experience a revolution in sociality with the radiation of one of the most ecologically dominant groups of animals to date, the ants. By living communally in colonies that can number in the thousands of individuals in some species, it is thought that ants turnover more soil than earth worms, provide habitat for a number of organisms, cycle the majority of the forest floor organic material and are typically the first animals to arrive to newly arisen resources on the forest floor (Holldobler & Wilson 1999). For example it was recently shown that in the rain forests of Borneo ants were responsible for consuming 51 % of baits placed within the forest when considering both foraging insects and mammals (Griffiths et al 2017). In addition, the majority of ant mediated flow of nutrients is performed by only a hand full of dominant species (Houadria et al 2015). In forest ecosystems around the world this suggests that ants are keystone players that mediate a large part of the functionality of ecosystems and constitute often the majority of the animal biomass (Holldobler & Wilson 1999). Read more »

Meet the Friends’ New Intern!

Jasmin Jimenez, a senior at NYU, is interning with the Friends this semester.We are proud to introduce our intern for this school year, Jasmin Jimenez. Ms. Jimenez started working with the Friends in October assisting with educational programs, trail work and Tibbetts Brook water monitoring. Jasmin is a senior at New York University studying Environmental Studies and Animal Studies. Her areas of interest include urban ecology, industrial ecology, and marine ecology.
This upcoming semester, Jasmin will be working on a research project in Van Cortlandt Park. She received a Dean’s Undergraduate Research Fund grant through NYU to conduct a habitat analysis for the reintroduction of amphibian species in Van Cortlandt Park. If you see her out in the park, say hello and ask her about the habitat necessities of Spring Peeper’s and Wood Frogs.

25 Accomplishments This Summer

The Grand Central Stones after the cleaning was completed. This fall, we will be adding signage and doing some clean up around the stones to finish the project.

The Grand Central Stones after the cleaning was completed. This fall, we will be adding signage and doing some clean up around the stones to finish the project.

As we continue to celebrate our 25th Anniversary year, the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park have been very active in and around Van Cortlandt Park this summer. We wanted to share with you this list of 25 things we accomplished during the summer:

1.) We hired 20 summer interns who worked on our Summer Trails Crew or Garden 2 Market internships and successfully completed their terms.

2.) We had 25th Anniversary Banners installed on the Park border along Broadway and Van Cortlandt Park South to celebrate our anniversary thanks to 11 local sponsors.

3.) Our Summer Trails Crew Interns maintained 8.1 miles of hiking trails within Van Cortlandt Park.

4.) We worked with the Municipal Arts Society and Tatti Art Conservation to get the Grand Central Stones cleaned removing many layers of graffiti and paint so that the original stone can now be seen. Read more »

Press Release- Friends’ 25th Anniversary Celebration

For Immediate Release Friends of Van Cortlandt Park's 25th Anniversary Celebration: Honoring Our Founders
Updated September 28th, 2017

Friends of Van Cortlandt Park’s
25th Anniversary Celebration: Honoring Our Founders
Sunday October 15th, 2017
6:00- 9:00 pm

Join us as we celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park and Honor our Founders:

Felicity Nitz
Frances Beinecke
Susan Morgenthau
Elizabeth Scheuer
Jane Sokolow
Sybil Wailand

Keynote Speaker Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr.

Event Hosted by Journalist and Talk Show Host Meredith Vieira. Read more »

25 Things to Do in Van Cortlandt Park This Summer

Summer in Van Cortlandt Park. Photo by Asa Aarons.

Happy First Day of Summer! Here are 25 Things to Do in Van Cortlandt Park This Summer (in no particular order). Get out and explore VCP this Summer!  Photo by Asa Aarons.

1.) Take a Rowboat Out on Van Cortlandt Lake
Fridays June 30th to September 1st from 4:30pm to 7:30pm-New Start Date of June 30th.
Village Community Boathouse will provide FREE rowing in their fleet of traditional wooden rowboats. Children under 18 years old need a parent present to sign waiver. Enter the park at Van Cortlandt Park South & Bailey Ave. Meet near the Lake.

2.) Visit the Oldest Building Still Standing in the Bronx
The Van Cortlandt House Museum, this Georgian style house, begun in 1748, was built of fieldstone by Frederick Van Cortlandt on the plantation that had been owned and farmed by his family since 1691. Visit www.vchm.org for more information.

3.) Volunteer at our Garden & Compost Site
Tuesdays, July 11th- August 22nd from 10am-1pm
Help care for our vegetable beds and compost bins. Bring water and sunscreen. Held at Friends’ Compost & Garden Site. Enter the Park at Broadway & Mosholu Ave. Read more »

25 Plants in our Garden Beds

A young gardener with a large zucchini harvested from the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park Garden and Compost Site in the Bronx, NY.Each year our Spring Garden Interns spend time planning what will grow in our garden for the season and develop a planting chart. Below are 25 plants Brendan, Vanessa, Blessing and Alexia decided to plant during our 25th Anniversary Year and some of the reasons they made their decisions!  All of the produce we grow is either used in cooking demonstrations at our Youth Run Farm Stand at Amalgamated Houses or is donated to Marble Hill Senior Center. Read more »