The Trustees of Reservations Achieve Significant Milestone with Martha’s Vineyard Native Pollinator Project

Contact Information

Press Contact:
Kristi Perry
Trustees of Reservations PR Manager
Martha's Vineyard Contact:
Paul Goldstein, PhD

Dr. Paul Goldstein will present the first year's results of The Trustees of Reservations' effort to document the Island's native pollinators and kick off the 2011 pollinator inventory and volunteer effort

Mary P. Wakeman Conservation Center, Lambert’s Cove Road

Saturday, April 16th at 2PM – 3PM

The findings generated from this important project represent a significant step forward in understanding the distribution and abundance of native pollinators on Martha’s Vineyard. 

Often referred to as “the pollinator crisis,” there is growing concern among ecologists and agriculturalists over the health and future of pollinators continent-wide. Native pollinators, including bees, birds, butterflies, moths, bats, flies, and beetles, are vital to the sustainability of natural and managed ecosystems as well as to food production. As some of our most diverse and important pollinators, native bees may be threatened, in some cases to the point of disappearing from the region. Scientists and industry experts are increasing their focus on understanding threats to native pollinator species, which in many cases may be more efficient and specialized pollinators than honey bees.

Beginning last April, of 2010 The Trustees embarked upon an extensive bee inventory project, supported in part by funding from the Edey Foundation and with the help of volunteers, biologists, and island conservation partners, to help better understand the Vineyards native pollinator fauna. The inventory and research covered a wide range of habitats and generated the first-ever, season-long “snapshot” of Vineyard pollinators, with nearly 10,000 specimens of bees collected, prepared and labeled and  130 species (and counting) of bees identified.  These numbers represent nearly a third of New England’s known bee fauna, 40% of Massachusetts’ known bee fauna, and a tenfold increase in the documented occurrences of native bee species on Martha's Vineyard. 

Thanks to Dr. John Ascher and Mr. Eli Wyman at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and Ms. Cerina Gordon of West Tisbury, many of these specimens have been individually barcode-labeled, databased, and georeferenced online at, where we continue to update entries. 

The inventory project also helped to provide The Trustees with the opportunity to develop the logistics of native pollinator monitoring for future projects -- both on and off-Island -- especially on the organization’s growing number of farms and agricultural properties. This project is part of ongoing regional efforts to understand and document the extent and magnitude of the global native pollinator crisis and better determine what individuals and conservation organizations can do to help. 

But there is more work to be done! The Trustees are looking for more citizen-scientist volunteers to help sample bees and generate primary data on the composition of our native fauna.  The April 16th presentation will summarize last year’s work in greater detail and outline The Trustees’ plans for continued research and inventory this spring and summer.  All who are interested in learning more and/or signing up to volunteer are welcome to attend.

Additional Background
More than 400 native bee species occur in New England (of 4,000 nationwide). It is estimated that as many as 200 species of native bees may occur on Martha’s Vineyard alone. Until now, however, no formal inventory has been undertaken. A critical missing element to our understanding of the causes and magnitude of the pollinator crisis is a lack of historical baseline for native bee faunas, which until 2010, had not been actively studied on the Vineyard. The Trustees project is the first of its kind to document the composition of the Island’s native bee fauna. The overarching goal is to help landowners, managers, and island conservation partners, better plan for the sensitive management of their properties, evaluate recent habitat restoration efforts, and offer opportunities to engage visitors and volunteers on this important issue.  Overall, bee populations may help us understand how sustainable our lands and management practices are in the face of growing threats, including climate change.

The research and inventory project was led by Dr. Paul Goldstein, a respected scientist in the field of entomology and the recognized authority on the insects of Martha’s Vineyard. With the help of volunteers, the inventory took place island-wide on multiple properties owned and managed by The Trustees, Massachusetts Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy, Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank, Polly Hill Arboretum, the Vineyard Conservation Society, and Massachusetts State-owned lands.

About the Trustees of Reservations on Martha’s Vineyard
The Trustees of Reservations own and manage five beautiful, remote properties on Martha’s Vineyard including Mytoi garden, Wasque Reservation, Cape Pogue Wildlife Refuge, Long Point Wildlife Refuge, and Menemsha Hills. The Trustees work in partnership with the Commonwealth to manage Leland Beach and with Dukes County to manage Norton Point Beach. In addition, The Trustees offer programs and workshops at these properties throughout the year, including fishing, kayaking, lighthouse, and natural history tours. For the Islands Regional office, please call 508.693.7662.

The Trustees of Reservations Statewide
The Trustees are 100,000 members like you who love the outdoors and the distinctive charms of New England, and believe in celebrating and protecting them for current and future generations. Founded by open space visionary Charles Eliot in 1891, The Trustees “hold in trust,” and care for, 105 spectacular “reservations” located on more than 26,000 acres in 75 communities throughout Massachusetts.

All Trustees reservations are open for the public to enjoy and range from working farms and historic homesteads – several of which are National Historic Landmarks – to formal gardens, barrier beaches, open meadows, woodland trails, mountain vistas, and a Gold LEED-certified green building in Leominster, the Doyle Center, which serves as a meeting space and gathering place for the conservation community.

The Trustees also work to promote healthy, active, green communities around the state, by providing hundreds of year-round programs and events that inspire people of all ages to enjoy the outdoors and appreciate the history, nature, and culture of the Commonwealth. Most programs and events are free-of-charge or heavily discounted for members.

Accredited by the Land Trust Alliance, The Trustees are an established leader in the conservation movement and model for other land trusts nationally and internationally. In addition to its many reservations spanning 26,000 acres, The Trustees also hold perpetual conservation restrictions on more than 19,000 additional acres (a total larger than any other conservation organization in Massachusetts), and have worked with community partners to assist in the protection of an additional 16,000 acres around the Commonwealth.

One of the largest non-profits in the state of Massachusetts, The Trustees employ 152 full-time, 49 regular part-time, and 400 seasonal staff with expertise in ecology, education, historic resources, land protection, conservation, land management, and planning. To find out more and/or become a member, please contact