Project Limulus Lives On With Help of Disney Conservation Fund
Professors Jennifer Mattei and Mark Beekey of the Biology department at Sacred Heart University have received a fourth year of funding from the Disney Conservation Fund for Project Limulus: A Community Research Program. Project Limulus is a research program investigating the population dynamics of horseshoe crabs (Limulus polyphemus) in Long Island Sound (LIS).
The main goal of the project is to allow for sustainable harvesting while keeping population densities high so horseshoe crabs can maintain their links to other species in the environment. This collaborative research effort, involves federal, state, non-profit and community groups, while promoting science literacy across all ages. Sharing population data with state managers is essential for the evaluation and proper amendment of the States’ management plans over time.
An additional goal is to develop a tri-state management plan for this species in LIS so that Connecticut, New York and Rhode Island achieve their common objective of Limulus conservation and sustainable harvest. However, this has not happened yet, Mattei says.
“Currently, the low density horseshoe crab population, spread across three states and 300 miles of the coastline, makes their management and conservation difficult,” she says. “Therefore, the use of Citizen Scientist Investigators has been highly beneficial to the researchers and state managers and also very successful in educating the general public about horseshoe crabs, their habitat and their importance to our health in the Long Island Sound estuary.”
The field season runs from May through June when the horseshoe crabs come up on beaches to spawn. The team is also mapping where juvenile horseshoe crabs are found throughout the summer and fall with the second year of support from CT Sea Grant.
For more information about the entire project, go to www.projectlimulus.org.