PAUL SMITHS - Paul Smith's College has launched the Center for Adirondack Biodiversity, an umbrella organization for park-wide environmental and social research.
David Patrick, a wildlife ecologist, has been named the center's executive director. The center will collaborate on research of plant and animal life in the Adirondacks, as well as help build links among the many groups focusing on ecological and social sustainability in the park.
Research done at the center will complement existing college resources, such as the Adirondack Watershed Institute.
"We want to make sure that people in the Adirondacks know what's around them," Patrick said. "To have that understanding of what's in the woods around your house. There's a sense of pride that develops out of that understanding."
Andrew Egan, dean of the college's Division of Forestry, Natural Resources and Recreation, said Patrick is a good fit to build the new center.
"We're excited to have someone with David's experience and energy to provide the leadership for our new Center for Adirondack Biodiversity," said Egan.
"The center will benefit our division, the college and the region through research, outreach and teaching," he added. "The idea of the center is consistent with Paul Smith's commitment to resource sustainability and experiential environmental education."
One of the center's most visible ongoing projects will be a project to index every living species, plant or animal, in the Adirondacks. The Adirondack All-Taxa Biodiversity Inventory relies both on professional input and citizen volunteers to carry out its mission; Patrick will help guide the project's research direction, as well as coordinate the work of the public with researchers.
The Adirondack Ecological Center in Newcomb, which is among many organizations participating in that project, expects Patrick's arrival to bolster that work.
"The Adirondack ATBI provides a mechanism for people to actively participate in science in a beautiful setting," said Stacy McNulty, a research associate with the Adirondack Ecological Center. "ATBI information will facilitate better park stewardship. We look forward to partnering with Dr. Patrick and the Center for Adirondack Biodiversity to create opportunities for citizens to understand and appreciate biodiversity in the Adirondacks."
Before arriving at Paul Smith's, Patrick had done postdoctoral research at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science & Forestry. He earned a doctorate in wildlife ecology from the University of Maine in 2007. Patrick's research interests include conservation and population biology and community-based approaches to conservation.
Much of Patrick's work has focused on how changes in the landscape affect plant and animal populations and developing sustainable approaches to land use.
"In some ways, the Adirondacks epitomizes many of the issues that are facing conservation in general," Patrick said. "The Adirondacks were set up with the goal in mind that people would be a huge part of the protection of this area. Coming up with ways to increase the overall sustainability, both social and ecological, is the long-term goal of these conservation efforts, and that's a goal I hope the center can contribute to."