Bucktoe As A Research SiteThe Bucktoe Creek Preserve’s location between Bucktoe Creek and the west branch of the Red Clay Creek makes it ideal for scientific study of Piedmont geography, botany and wildlife. The land is protected from future development and visitors come to the preserve through guided programs or by appointments; therefore, research sites can be long-term and safe from vandalism.
The Preserve is part of both an Audubon-designated Important Bird Area and a 30-year Cornell Lab of Ornithology bird study. It serves as a valuable resource for stream studies and wildlife surveys for research teams from organizations such as Stroud Water Research Center, West Chester University, and the University of Delaware. In addition to providing ongoing opportunities for wildlife and stream surveys, Bucktoe Creek Preserve hosts a permanent meteorological observation site in one of its upland meadows. This observation system is monitored through the University of Delaware’s Delaware Environmental Observation System (DEOS), a network of weather stations throughout Delaware and Southeast Pennsylvania.
Current Research Studies
Bird Banding Study
In June 2015, Delaware Nature Society began a Bird Banding project through November to compare the use of two early-successional areas, one at Ashland Nature Center and one at Bucktoe Creek Preserve, by migrating and breeding species of birds.
Bird Bander Ian Stewart captured and banded 413 birds of 37 species. Many were caught in mist-nets while others were obtained as nestlings in bird boxes on the properties. Color bands were placed on Eastern Bluebirds to determine site-fidelity of the species, and whether the same individuals winter and summer at Ashland Nature Center and Bucktoe Creek Preserve respectively. The baseline data from the pilot program will be used to refine the approach to a three-year study that will commence in April 2016, to test a hypothesis about breeding and migratory bird use of different early successional habitats.
Come visit Bird Bander Ian Stewart on Wednesdays through November, 8-11 am.
Past Research Studies
Stream Quality StudyA research study comparing the health and quality of four streams and rivers within the Bucktoe Creek Preserve was conducted by searching for macroinvertebrates within the stream that serve as water quality indicators. Each stream was given a Macroinvertebrate Aggregated Index for Streams (MAIS) score. Results of the study showed that the West Branch of the Red Clay Creek, which borders the property and runs for nearly 14 miles before emptying into the White Clay Creek, is rated as a poor quality stream, with a MAIS score of less than 6; however, the three smaller bodies of water within the property fared better. The tributary to Bucktoe Creek, Bucktoe Creek, and Butternut Run all scored in the ‘fair’ zone, with MAIS scores ranging from 6-13.1 To see a PDF graph of results from this study, please click here.
Graduate Level Research
The Bucktoe Creek Preserve served as a research study site for Courtney Siegert, a graduate student at the University of Delaware who authored the following thesis paper titled, “An Investigation of Interspecific Differences of Transpiration in Three Occurring Seedling Species of Varying Shade Tolerances.” To view, download, or print this document, please click here.