Cannon’s Point Preserve was designated as part of the Georgia Barrier Islands Landscape of Hemispheric Importance by the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network in 2018. This designation recognizes the importance of this protected tract of land for resident and migratory avian species.
We partner with Coastal Georgia Audubon Society to host spring and fall migration bird walks at the Preserve to document the numerous species at the Preserve.
In 2018, the Preserve participated in the Christmas Bird Count along with Little St. Simons Island. Preserve Manager, Stephanie Knox, worked with volunteers, Bob Sattelmeyer and Dr. Gene Keferl, to lay out the routes for the new annual survey. Bob is also working with Stephanie to create migration surveys at the Preserve to better understand how the Preserve is used by various migrating birds during fall and spring migrations.
Cannon's Point Preserve is listed as an e-Bird Hotspot by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology with 143 species currently identified.
The Utility of Ribbed Mussels to Enhance Living Shoreline Success
Professor John Carroll at Georgia Southern University has started a research project along the living shoreline at Cannon’s Point Preserve during the summer of 2019. This research is looking at how the existence or addition of ribbed mussels may enhance the success of marsh grass plantings in living shorelines and other marsh restoration efforts due to their direct interaction with the marsh grass – providing nutrients, stabilizing sediments, and increasing sediment accretion. The presence of mussels can also help the marsh grasses tolerate stressful conditions including extended periods of inundation or drought.
More information to come as this research project progresses.
Red Bay Research- Ongoing
The St. Simons Land Trust is partnering with Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the College of Coastal Georgia and the University of Florida to monitor redbay trees (Persea borbonia) and their potential resistance to an invasive ambrosia beetle (Xyleborus glabratus).
This invasive beetle originates in Asia but invaded North America through the port of Savannah on shipping pallets in 2002. It has since spread throughout the entire coast of Georgia and sporadically on the mainland down to Florida and north into South Carolina. At this time there is no answer for stopping the spread. The beetle farms a fungus by boring into trees in the Lauraceae family (including our native red bays and the avocado tree) and leaves a fungus which inhibits the trees vascular system from functioning properly.
Cannon’s Point Preserve has a healthy stand of redbay trees which may be resistant to the fungus. A researcher from the University of Florida joined DNR Biologist and the College of Coastal Georgia’s conservation biology class to document, measure, record and take clippings from some of our large and healthy redbay trees.
The University if Florida has these clippings propagating in their nursery and the College of Coastal Georgia’s Conservation Biology class annually monitors the stand of redbays for any signs of the invasive ambrosia beetle (images below). This is a long-term project where the hope is to locate a resistant strand which can be propogated to help restore the coast's native redbay population.
Zamia Research- 2016
Dr. Patrick Griffith from the Montgomery Botanical Center in Coral Gables, FL came to Cannon’s Point Preserve in search of a rare plant species to obtain a “better biogeographic understanding” of the species. The Zamia integrifolia is the only cycad native to the United States and has only been located once on St. Simons Island in 1971. St. Simons would be its northernmost range.
Georgia Department of Natural Resources Biologists, Jacob Thompson and Eamonn Leonard, joined Dr. Griffith and Preserve Manager, Stephanie Knox, in surveying for the species but it was not located during the survey at Cannon’s Point Preserve. They also utilized this opportunity to quickly survey Guale Preserve but once again did not locate a specimen. Dr. Griffith would like to come back and do a more detailed search as these two surveys do not rule out the species existence on the island.
Zamia is a common cultivar in tropical and subtropical zones of the southeastern United States, including Georgia. These cycads resemble and are sometimes mistaken for palms or ferns, but they are not closely related to either group. The cycads are among the oldest living plant groups; the family Zamiaceae has a fossil record extending from the middle Triassic to the Eocene (54 to 200 million years ago).