East End Eco-Ventures

Join us to explore the east end of Long Island through nature-based outdoor adventures and educational activities.

Field Naturalist Course



Weekend Session:  Saturday & Sunday  June 21 – 22  (9 am – 3 pm)

Evening Session:  Monday – Thursday  June 23 – 26  (6 pm – 9 pm)

Location: Amagansett – East Hampton area


INSTRUCTOR: Mike Bottini

Mike Bottini has taught this acclaimed course for twenty years. Participants have included planning board members, teachers, local trail hike leaders, environmentalists, landscapers, college students, and those with a general interest in natural history. We visit some of the most beautiful nature preserves on Long Island.


    ~ Introduction to Long Island’s ecological diversity of the South Fork.

    ~ Understanding of basic ecological concepts and processes.

    ~ Identification of dominant flora and fauna and keystone species.

    ~ Develop nature observation and interpretation skills.


Four distinct plant communities will be explored to determine the major physical and biological factors at work that define each community. We will identify the dominant flora and fauna in each community, examine their unique adaptations survival in that setting, and note the ecological interrelationships among the major species.


We will examine the component “parts” or layers of the forest and note physical and biological differences in each. Tree structures, their function, and growth will be reviewed. The soil as a sub-community will be examined and discussed. The concept of “niche” will be explained and niches identified in what at first might appear as a uniform community lacking diversity. We will also examine the impact of fire and logging on forest composition and structure.


We will examine this community’s plant “zones” and “micro-environments” (swash zone; beach; fore-dune; dune crest; back dune; swales; blowouts), the biotic and abiotic factors that distinguish each zones, and identify each zone and micro-environment’s dominant plants and animals and their adaptations for survival there.


We will examine the flora and fauna found in this community, which encompasses several zones of permanently flooded areas (submergent, floating, and emergent plants), the water-saturated soils in the adjacent area (woody shrubs such as red maple, tupelo, highbush blueberry), and the shoreline band where water levels fluctuate seasonally and annually (herbaceous plants). We will also visit and discuss the ecological function of vernal ponds.


As with the beach–dune community, the salt marsh and estuary community is one of a series of plant zones. These zones are largely structured around subtle differences in vertical height above mean sea level, and therefore daily tidal influences, and not-so-subtle differences in exposure to wind-driven waves, which we will explore and discuss. We will learn to identify the common plants and animals found in this community, which zones they are most commonly found in, and their ecological role in the marsh-estuary system.

Here’s what previous students had to say about Mike’s course:

“You have no idea what you’ve been missing all around you until Mike explains it,” says an amateur birder. “It’s like he turned the light on in a dark room.”

“Mike is really good at communicating his knowledge—and his understanding of how everything’s connected to everything else,” offers a computer technician.

“Mike’s course will turn you into a nature nut,” observes a local hiker. “I never understood the richness of our environment before.”

Mike Bottini received his M.Sc. at the University of British Columbia where he studied wildlife conservation and completed a radio telemetry study of elk in Banff National Park. Mike is currently studying river otters on Long Island, and has also done research, monitoring and inventory work involving spotted turtles, piping plovers, and spotted and tiger salamanders. While working at the Group for the South Fork as an environmental planner, Mike was a staunch advocate for open space preservation and designed many of the nature trails on the South Fork. The author of three natural history books about the East End (Exploring East End Waters, Trail Guide to the South Fork, and The Walking Dunes), Mike also writes a weekly nature column for the Southampton and East Hampton Press.

FEES:    $190.00 per 12-hour program. Registration limited to 14. LINO Members receive a 10% discount.  (If you can only attend one day, give Mike a call at 631-267-5228 or mike@peconic.org)

For more information or questions contact Mike Bottini at mike@mikebottini.com or 631-267-5228.

Register now at http://longislandnature.org

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