Natural Heritage Committee  |  Vocabulary & Ecosystem Concepts
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Word or concept // photo image   Definition // Albemarle County connection
     
Animal
Animal
Photo by Mark Tasko
 

Multicellular organism characterized by the ability to move voluntarily, respond to its environment, and meet its energy needs by consuming other organisms.

Humans, birds, eagles, deer, bears, salamanders, fish, butterflies, bees, cattle, sheep, dogs, cats -- these are all animals that help make up the diversity of animal life in Albemarle County.

 
 
Aquatic
Aquatic
Copyright Robert Jenkens & Noel Burkhead
 

Having to do with water. Aquatic organisms spend all or part of their lives in water.

Aquatic habitats in Albemarle County include rivers, streams, ponds, swamps, marshes, wetlands, reservoirs, and bodies of water that last only a short period of time ("intermittent" streams, "ephemeral" ponds or swales, and "spring seeps"). Populations of largemouth bass and other sediment-intolerant aquatic organisms increase when we protect our reservoirs with forested riparian buffers.

 
 

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Biodiversity
Biodiversity
Copyright Diana Foster
 

The variety of living life in all forms and at many levels -- from genes to species to entire ecosystems -- that inhabit a particular area. Biodiversity includes different species of plants, animals, fungi, and microorganisms; the genes they contain; and the ecosystems they form. Also known as biological diversity or ecological diversity.

Biodiversity is essential to human life. In Albemarle County we depend upon it for everything from clean air and water, to food and medicine, to protection against natural and human-caused environmental disturbances...

Biodiversity has aesthetic value. The natural beauty of our county's views of the Blue Ridge, wooded hillsides and pastures, and scenic creeks and rivers provide enrichment to Albemarle County citizens and visitors that is unique in its impact and that is irreplaceable...

Biodiversity has economic value. The natural environment of Albemarle County complements its historic resources and together these features drive the tourism industry that is so vital to our economy.  (Albemarle County Comprehensive Plan, adopted 1999)

 
 
Bioindicator
Bioindicator
Photo of Louisiana waterthrush on El Salvador wintering grounds by O. Komar/SalvaNATURA
 
 

An organism, species, population, or community whose changes in certain characteristics can indicate the presence of particular changes in the environment. Also known as indicator species or biological indicator species.

The Louisiana waterthrush (Seiurus motacilla) breeds along Albemarle County streams and winters in similar habitats in Central and South America. Dependent upon a diet of pollution-intolerant aquatic insects, this bird can be considered to be a bioindicator of clean swift-moving forest streams.

 
     

Biological Resource
Biological Resource
Photo credit Marcel Gahbauer, courtesy of
McGill Bird Observatory

 

Item derived from living organisms that has direct, indirect, or potential use or value to humanity.

The Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus), whose food preference includes hairy insects such as tent caterpillars and the caterpillars of gypsy moths, is a natural protector of both forests and orchards. By preserving the large tracts of contiguous forest that these birds require for nesting, we are able to avoid the expense and challenge of broadcasting chemical insecticides.

 

 

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Climate change
Climate Change

Copyright Diana Foster
 

Changes in the weather in one particular location averaged over a long period of time.

Biodiversity increases the chances that an ecosystem can "bounce back" from traumatic changes in the environment, such as those predicted by many scientists in the age of global warming.

Most climate scientists believe that our planet is warming due to increased releases of carbon dioxide and other gases into our atmosphere through human activities.  Green plants make their own food through the process of photosynthesis. They take up carbon dioxide from the air and, using the energy of sunlight, turn it into carbon (which they store in their plant tissues) and release oxygen. Trees, being the largest living organisms on Earth, have the capacity to store vast amounts of carbon, thus reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the air. Large tracts of forest with a diversity of trees in terms of age and species increase our region's "resilience" to potential changes.

As an added bonus, with their extensive root systems and vast canopies, trees can help protect our soils and waterways should climate change lead to an increased number of hurricanes.

 

 

   
Community
Community
Copyright Diana Foster
 

All the populations that live together in the same place.

Ivy Creek Natural Areas, a 215-acre preserve bordering the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir with its mix of upland woods, pine stands, open fields, streams, two miles of shoreline, and seven miles of hiking trails, is a perfect place to observe a Virginia Piedmont mixed hardwood forest community.  Species a visitor might encounter include American Beech, Northern Red Oak, Scarlet Oak , Tulip-poplar, and Pignut Hickory trees;  Bloodroot, Mayapple, and Indian Pipe; White-tailed Deer and Red Fox; Scarlet Tanagers, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, and Easter Phoebes; Spotted Salamanders and Fowlers' Toads; Black Rat Snakes and Eastern Box Turtles, and Eastern Tiger Swallowtails.

 

 

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Ecosystem services Ecological Services
Photo by Per-Olof Gustafsson 
 
 

Fundamental life-supporting services or benefits provided by natural ecosystems, without which human civilization would cease to thrive. In some cases, human civilization would even cease to exist without the services, or we would need to spend vast sums of money to produce them artificially.

Maintaining healthy ecosystems with high biodiversity may provide us the following ecological services at little to no public expense. A loss of biodiversity may diminish ecological services.

  • Fresh air
  • Clean drinking water
  • Protection against soil erosion and sedimentation of waterways
  • Filtration of many pollutants before they enter our waterways
  • Regulation of underground water tables
  • Fertile soil for food and timber production
  • Recycling of water, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and essential nutrients and elements
  • Protection against flood damage during heavy storms
  • Protection against the damaging effects of droughts
  • Pollination of fruit-bearing trees and other agricultural crops
  • Natural insect and pest control, especially in forests and agricultural areas
  • Decomposition of natural and human-generated wastes
  • Seed dispersal and regeneration of natural plant communities
  • Cooling of our homes, places of work, and recreational areas
  • Moderation of temperature extremes
  • Protection from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays
  • Moderation of the force of winds
  • New sources of crops and agricultural products
  • Existing and new medicines
  • Timber and other forest products
  • Breeding grounds for edible fish
  • Game for food and sport-hunting
  • Recovery from unpredictable natural catastrophic events such as fire or hurricanes and from human-caused disasters
  • Aesthetic beauty and intellectual stimulation
 

 

   

Ecosystem
Ecosystem
Copyright Diana Foster

 

 

A dynamic set of living organisms (plants, animals (including humans), fungi and microorganisms) and nonliving parts of the environment in which they live (water, sunlight, climate, soils, air quality, topography, landforms, geology) in a given geographical area all interacting among themselves in interconnected, interdependent, and structured relationships. An ecosystem does not have precise boundaries; it can be as small as a pond or a dead tree. It can be as big as the forests of Ragged Mountain Natural Area and surrounding properties.

Humans are part of ecosystems and can have an effect on them. Practically all of Albemarle County's original forest ecosystems were cleared for cultivation, logging, or grazing; abandoned; and eventually allowed to regrow into forests. A few original terrestrial forested ecosystems remain -- primarily on steep and rocky bluffs -- where it was impractical or impossible to use logging techniques of the day.

 
     

Ecosystem Diversity
Ecosystem Diversity 
Toadshade trillium (Trillium sessile)
Copyright Lisa Powers

 

A variety of habitats and communities found in one geographic region that interact in complex relationships.

The Key West Rivanna - North Fork Rivanna River Bluffs area contains five different types of forest communities and possibly the most outstanding wildflower collection in the County.

 
     

Endangered species Endangered Species

Artwork by John J. Audubon

 

A species present in such small numbers that it is at risk of extinction.

At one time listed on the Federal Endangered Species list, Albemarle County's population of bald eagles is increasing. Their "return" can be attributed to our elimination of DDT as an insecticide (DDT entered the eagle's food chain and caused a thinning of its eggshells) and to our preservation of large standing trees along waterways where eagles perch and build their large stick nests. Thanks to many people's dedicated work, bald eagles can now be seen soaring above the Rivanna River and the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir.

 

 

   
Extinct species
Extinct Species

Print by C. O. Whitman
 

A species no longer occurring anywhere in the world

Passenger pigeons were at one time, no doubt, right at home in Albemarle County's diverse forests feasting on their favorite mast foods of beechnuts, acorns, and American chestnuts.  Multiple events, all happening at the same time nation-wide, are thought to have caused this species' extinction: habitat loss, introduction of railroads that enabled their being shipped to distant cities for eating, and unsustainable hunting practices.

 
     
Extirpated species
Extirpated Species
Photo by Jim Stasz
 

A species no longer occurring in the wild within a specified region

An energetic natural pest manager -- dining on beetles, wasps, caterpillars, spiders, and other insects -- the once common Bewick's Wren (Thryomanes bewickii) is now extirpated from Albemarle County.

 

 

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Fauna
Fauna
Copyright Diana Foster
 

The animals of a given region considered as a whole.

The Short-tailed Shrew (Blarina brevicanda), a common but secretive inhabitant of forest leaf litter and grassy fields, has a voracious appetite for spiders and insects.  A listing of other fauna of Albemarle County can be found in the Biodiversity Work Group Report: Appendices.

 
     
Flora
Flora
Photo by David G. Smith,
www.delawarewildflowers.org
 

The plants of a given region considered as a whole.

The Purple Fringeless Orchis (Habenaria peramoena), found in wetlands south of South Garden, is just one of the many rare wildflowers growing in Albemarle County. A listing of other rare flora can be found in the Biodiversity Work Group Report: Appendices.

 

 

   

Forest
Forest
Photo by Martin Johnson, Thomas Jefferson Soil & Water Conservation District

 

A forest is more than trees! A forest is a complex, ever-changing ecosystem dominated primarily by trees and other woody plants. As an ecosystem, a forest contains a diversity of living organisms all interacting with each other and with the nonliving parts of their environment in interconnected and interdependent relationships.

Albemarle County is dedicated to preserving large tracts of both natural and timber forests for the purposes of protecting water resources, resilience against unpredictable events, forest-interior bird species habitat, ecological services, and an economically sound and sustainable forest products industry.

 
     

Fungus
Fungus
Photo by Robert L. Anderson, USDA Forest
Service

 

 

 

Multicellular or single-celled organism, lacking chlorophyll and thus not capable of making its own food from inorganic substances. Plural fungi. Fungi include yeasts, molds, rusts, mildews, mushrooms, and soil fungi.

Most fungi are useful to human existence. Mycorrhizae are highly evolved, mutually benefiting associations between plants and soil fungi.  A particular soil fungus invades a particular plant's roots and forms modified root-like structures that greatly increase efficiency of nutrient and water uptake. The plant, in turn, provides the fungus with food. Most plants require myccorhizae for normal growth in natural soils and are species-specific about the types of fungi with which they can form associations. If plants are destroyed, such as when a forest is cleared, and the plants' myccorhizal fungi are lost during soil erosion, it will be very difficult to regrow the same plants in the same spot. When farmers and foresters practice best management practices, they are helping to preserve our precious top soils.

 

 

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Genetic diversity
Genetic Diversity
 

The variety of genetic information contained in all of the individual plants, animals, fungi, and microorganisms that can be passed on from parent to offspring.

As a plant, animal, fungus, or microorganism population becomes smaller due to human impact, habitat destruction, or natural change, genetic variability tends to be lost by chance. The loss of genetic variability usually affects the viability and survival of a species by reducing its ability to reproduce or to deal effectively with environmental factors such as disease, weather, predation, etc.  (Albemarle County Comprehensive Plan, adopted 1999)

 

 

   
GIS
GIS
Image by Richard H. Odom
 

Graphic Information System. GIS is a system for management, analysis, and display of geographic knowledge that is represented using a series of information sets including mapping, data, and processing and work flow models.

Albemarle County staff use and maintain GIS data and mapping throughout all levels of local government (including the school division) for making educated decisions on a variety of issues. Staff  use GIS data and maps to illustrate the current state of valuable county natural resources.

 

 

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Habitat
Habitat
Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris)
Photo by Louis-M. Landry

 

The place where an organism naturally lives. Habitat must provide food, water, cover (shelter from predators and elements), and space (room to find food, water, and cover). All species require habitat in order to live.

Campbell Wetlands is a special habitat in Albemarle County because it is one of the few areas where the soil is permanently wet. Numerous unusual habitat-specific plants live here: Jacob's Ladder (Pelemonium reptans), Short's Sedge (Carex shortiana), Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris), and Spatterdock (Nuphar luteum).

 
     

Habitat fragmentation
Habitat Fragmentation
Worm-eating Warbler (Helmitheros vermivorus)
Photo by J. A. Spendelow

 

 

The reduction of one large tract of  habitat into smaller, disjointed parcels separated by roads, utility corridors, railroads, agricultural fields, houses, shopping malls, and other development. Fragmentation is biologically and ecologically harmful to many species.  It reduces animals' ability to move freely across a habitat to forage, find mates, or to disperse.  It may reduce population numbers and lead to loss of genetic variability. Fragmentation of forests increases the ratio of forest edge to forest interior, in turn increasing the chance of invasive plants displacing native plants. Forest fragmentation also facilitates animal predation by edge-living predators such as Raccoons, Skunks, Foxes, Virginia Opossums, Blue Jays, Crows, Snakes, Brown-headed Cowbirds, and feral and domestic cats.

The Southern Albemarle Mountains contain vast large tracts of unfragmented forests and provide excellent breeding habitat for forest-dwelling songbirds, many of whom are insectivores. The Worm-eating Warbler (Helmitheros vermivorus), which gets its name from its food preference of caterpillars (once referred to as "worms"), is as an efficient natural insect pest manager. When forests are fragmented, forest-interior birds may be forced to nest closer to forest edges. They may then become more vulnerable to edge-lurking nest predators such as the opportunistic Brown-headed Cowbird.

Cowbirds are seed-eaters that live primarily in fields and forest-field edges. Instead of building their own nests, cowbirds sneak into the nests of other birds -- including forest-dwelling birds -- and lay their eggs. Cowbird eggs often hatch before the host bird's eggs, the baby cowbird is typically bigger than the host nestlings, and the larger cowbird baby gets more than its share of food brought to the nest. As a result, one or more of the host babies starve and die. Nationwide, Brown-headed Cowbirds have been recorded as successfully laying eggs in the nests of more than 140 species of birds.  Preserving intact large tracts of forest can reverse the devastating effect Cowbirds are having on many bird species.

 

 

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Inbreeding
Inbreeding
Copyright J. D. Willson

 

Mating between biologically related individuals. Inbreeding typically results in a decrease in genetic variability which, in turn, affects the viability and survival of the species by reducing its ability to reproduce or deal effectively with environmental factors such as disease, weather, predation, or unpredictable events.

Habitat fragmentation can lead to inbreeding by reducing an animal's ability to move freely across the habitat to find mates. Extremely slow movers, Eastern Box Turtles (Terrapene Carolina) are becoming more and more isolated due to habitat loss and fragmentation. Having a harder and harder time finding mates, these turtles may be suffering from the consequences of inbreeding.

 

 

   

Invasive species
Invasive Species
Photo by Dendrology at VA Tech

 

 

Plants or animals that are introduced to an area, survive, and reproduce, and cause harm economically or environmentally within the new area of introduction. More specifically, invasives most typically cause harm by out-competing native species for habitat essentials (food, water, sun, space) or upsetting natural food webs. Also termed non-native invasives, non-natives, exotics, or alien species.

Oriental Bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) is one of several invasives threatening the health of Albemarle County's natural forests. It grows vigorously as a vine, climbing over and smothering vegetation which may die from excessive shading or breakage. When bittersweet climbs high up on trees, the increased weight can lead to uprooting and blow-overs. Oriental Bittersweet reproduces prolifically by seed, which is readily dispersed to new areas by many species of birds. It also expands vegetatively through root suckering. Oriental Bittersweet can be controlled by manual, mechanical, and/or chemical means.

 

 

   

Invertebrate
Invertebrate
Copyright Bob Moul,
www.pbase.com/rcm1840

 

Animal not having a backbone.

Sometimes called "mosquito hawks," dragonflies such as the Spangled Skimmer (Libellula cyanea) are voracious consumers of mosquitoes, gnats, flies, and other organisms that humans consider to be pests.

 

 

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Microorganism
Microorganism
Photo by Martin Johnson, Thomas Jefferson Soil & Water Conservation District

 

Organism that can be seen only through a microscope. Microorganisms include bacteria, protozoa, some algae, and some fungi. Although viruses are not considered living organisms, they are sometimes classified as microorganisms. Also called microbes.

Creating and maintaining shrubby or forested vegetated riparian buffers between grazing fields and nearby waterways can reduce the number of harmful microorganisms that could enter our public drinking water supply.

 

 

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Native species
Native Species
 

Plant and animal species that occur naturally in an area, and have not been introduced by humans either intentionally or unintentionally. Native plants, in general, are adapted to local climate and soils, require less maintenance than introduced non-native plants, are less susceptible to disease, and provide important habitat for native wildlife.

American Holly (Ilex opaca), a native tree in our forests, provides food for many animals including Wild Turkey, Northern Bobwhite, Cedar Waxwing, American Goldfinch, Northern Cardinal, Eastern Gray Squirrel, Eastern Chipmunk, Red Fox, and Eastern Box Turtle. Its prickly leaves provide protective shelter for many birds such as Northern Cardinals.

 

 

   

Natural Heritage
Natural Heritage
Photo by Brian T. Watson

 

"Habitat of rare, threatened, and endangered plant and animal species; exemplary natural communities, habitats, and ecosystems; and other natural features of the Commonwealth." (Virginia Natural Area Preserves Act of 1989 (Section 10.1-209 through 217, Code of Virginia))

Aquatic organisms such as Atlantic Pigtoe (Fusconaia masoni) or James Spinymussel are indicators of clean waterways, the primary source of drinking water for many County residents. The Atlantic Pigtoe lives only in well oxygenated streams, free of pollutants and silt. A listing of some of our local Natural Heritage organisms and ecological communities can be found in the Albemarle County Comprehensive Plan.

 

 

   

Natural Resources
Natural Resources
Copyright Diana Foster

 

Materials that occur in nature and are essential or useful to humans, such as surface water, groundwater, air, land, forests, fish and wildlife, topsoil, and minerals. They provide the raw materials for our daily lives and sustain our economy. Natural resources are finite and must be used wisely to insure their continued availability.

Forests are one of Albemarle County's many valuable natural resources. Many birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and aquatic species depend upon this dominant habitat for their survival. Additionally, the protection afforded by the forest's leafy canopy helps improve air quality and modulates microclimate. Forested areas also protect and maintain the purity of groundwater and stream and river water. Forests serve as filters to trap sediment and absorb pollutants from overland runoff. Loss of topsoil and silt into surface waters can smother the gravel bottoms that are breeding habitats of most of our stream fishes and the aquatic insect larvae that are the food for these fishes. Forests along rivers and streams help make waterways livable for many species. Many shrubs, grasses, and vines grow well in the moist and fertile soils of large unbroken forested areas, but may not do well elsewhere. Plant material falling into the water also provides a food source for aquatic organisms. Shade from the tree canopy helps maintain a low water temperature, and tree roots help stabilize the bank and provide shelter.

Finally, forests contribute to Albemarle's natural beauty, complement the cultural resources of the area and enhance the County as a desirable place to live, recreate, and visit.  (Albemarle County Comprehensive Plan, adopted 1999)

 

 

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Plant
Plant
Copyright Diana Foster

 

Multicellular organism, capable of making its own food from inorganic substances generally through the process of photosynthesis. Plants lack the power of self-propelled locomotion.

Christmas fern (Polystichum aristochroides) is a native evergreen fern that provides year round visual interest in our forests and shade gardens. As an added bonus to home landscapers, it is considered to be a "deer resistant" plant.

 

 

   

Population
Population
Photo by John Mosesso, Jr.

 

 

A group of organisms of the same species that live together in the same place

A population of approximately 40 pairs of Great Blue Herons (Ardea herodias) nests regularly in the Preddy Creek wetlands area of the County.

 

 

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Riparian
Riparian
Copyright Robert Jenkens & Noel Burkhead

 

 

Of, on, or pertaining to the banks of a stream, river, or pond.

Riparian trees shade mountain streams, keeping the waters cool for native Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) and for the aquatic organisms that make up its diet.

 
     

Riparian Buffer
Riparian Buffer
Photo by Martin Johnson, Thomas Jefferson Soil & Water Conservation District

 

An area of vegetation next to a stream, reservoir, wetland, or pond that helps absorb runoff from the land during storm events, prevents soil erosion, protects water quality within the waterway, offers wildlife habitat and a corridor for safe travel, and enhances the aesthetics of the land. Also known as "buffer zone,"  "riparian buffer," or "riparian stream buffer."

Forested riparian buffers are one of the most economical and efficient measures we as individuals and as a community can implement to protect our drinking water. Compared to other land surfaces, water travels the slowest through a forest. Branches and leaves soften the force of rain drops before they hit the ground. Tree trunks, leaf litter, and woody debris slow surface run-off and trap sediment. Roots absorb water from the ground, absorb many toxic pollutants, and hold onto soil. The Albemarle County Water Protection Ordinance contains guidelines for how to create and maintain effective riparian buffers.

 

 

   

River bluff
River Bluff
Copyright Diana Foster

 

 

A steep high bank alongside a river

 

In addition to having a high number of rare ferns and wildflowers, the Rivanna River Bluffs below Buck Island hold stands of Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga Canadensis) trees still free of the invasive non-native insect the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid.

 

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Species
Species
Photo by Jim Stasz

 

Basic unit of living things, consisting of a group of organisms which all look more or less alike and which can all breed with each other to produce another generation of similar organisms

More than fifteen species of wood warblers, including the Black-throated Green Warbler (Dendroica virens) have been recorded as breeding in the Southern Albemarle Mountains.

 
     

Species Diversity
Species Diversity
Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)
Copyright Daniel Reed

 

The variety of different organism species that live in a particular area or habitat and that may be linked in complex relationships such as food webs. Sometimes referred to as "species richness."

The Ragged Mountain Natural Area, a beautiful 980-acre preserve with its relatively undisturbed forest, two lakes, and seven miles of rugged hiking trails offers the opportunity for citizens and visitors alike to experience the rich species diversity of our region.

 
     

Species Rank
Species Rank
Photo by J. A. Spendelow

 

Designation assigned to a species by a consensus of natural heritage programs and scientific experts to indicate its rarity and the possible urgency of its conservation needs. Species "Global Rank" and "State Rank" designations used in the Albemarle County are derived from lists compiled by the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Natural Resources.

Albemarle County residents have helped elevate the Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) species rank to G5 (global, very good) and S5 (state, very good) by voluntarily preserving standing dead snag trees for cavity nesting and by erecting hundreds of appropriately designed nesting boxes.

 

 

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Terrestrial
Terrestrial
Copyright Lisa Powers

 

Having to do with land. Terrestrial organisms live and grow primarily on land.

Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) and other native wildflowers thrive in areas where natural riparian buffers have been intact for many years.

 
     

Threatened Species
Threatened Species
Photo by T. Beachy

 

A species likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its native range

Cerulean Warblers (Dendroica cerulea) are natural protectors of the oldest broad-leaved, deciduous trees of our forests. Active in the uppermost layer of the forest canopy, these insectivores dine upon both adults and immature stages of caterpillars, moths, and other insects that have the potential to become forest pests. By preserving the large tracts of contiguous forest that these birds require for nesting, we might be able to avoid the expense and challenge of broadcasting chemical insecticides.

 

 

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Vertebrate
Vertebrate
Copyright Diana Foster

 

 

Animal having a bony or cartilaginous backbone

These particular vertebrate organisms have the potential to preserve our precious natural heritage.

 

 

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Watershed
Watershed
Photo by Martin Johnson, Thomas Jefferson Soil & Water Conservation District

 

An area of land that contains a common set of streams and rivers that all drain into a single larger body of water, such as a larger river, a lake or an ocean.

Everyone in Albemarle County lives in a watershed: Moorman's, Preddy Creek, Biscuit Run, Hardware, North Fork Rivanna, South Fork Rivanna Reservoir ... or any other stream or river or lake that is near his or her home. Anything we do that alters the land can impact either positively or negatively the bodies of water in our watershed.

 
     

Wetland
Wetland
Photo by Alan Williams, courtesy of USGS
National Wetlands Research Center

 

An area that is regularly saturated by surface water or groundwater and is characterized by a prevalence of vegetation that is adapted for life in saturated soil conditions (e.g., swamps, bogs, fens, marshes, and estuaries).

Wetlands act like sponges and have the capacity to absorb rainwater and run-off, thus helping to prevent floods and erosion. The Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea), a wetland resident, is a natural controller of mosquitoes.

 
     

Wildlife Corridor
Wildlife Corridor
Photo by Bill Peterman

 

Physical connections between habitats that enable animals to find food, mates, and migratory pathways.

Wildlife corridors can be relatively small such as the one near Polo Grounds Road that facilitates the breeding migration of Spotted Salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum) from terrestrial habitats to wetland breeding sites. Wildlife corridors can also be quite large such as a string of mountaintops free of human-constructed obstacles that makes possible the long-distant biannual migration of many raptors, warblers, and other birds.

 

 

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Contact the Department
Natural Heritage Committee
c/o Community Development
401 McIntire Road
Charlottesville, VA 22902
434-296-5832
FAX: 434-972-4126
Email the Department