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Presentations | Wildlife of St. Martin

Presentations

We have made presentations about St. Martin’s wildlife for people of all ages, from toddlers to adults. Presentations are accompanied by projected photos so that the animals and the ideas come alive for the audience. Below are descriptions of some of the presentations we give to students and the general public.

Voyagers, Castaways and Stowaways: How Life Arrived on St. Martin
St. Martin is an oceanic island that has never been connected to a continent. When it was first thrust up above the surface of the sea millions of years ago it was a barren rock. Today, the island is home to hundreds of species of animals. How did they arrive here? In this presentation, we look at St. Martin’s fauna in three categories: voyagers, castaways and stowaways. We can use these terms to describe how most of the animals arrived on the island, both in the past and today. These types of colonization also define much of what is unique about St. Martin’s animals and local ecology.

Life on St. Martin: An Ongoing Assembly
There are many good reasons for studying the wildlife of St. Martin. In many ways, the most important reason is that St. Martin is an island, and has a unique assembly of life: a congregation of fauna unlike that of any other place on earth, even our closest island neighbors. This one fact leads to many of the most interesting questions about life on St. Martin: Which animals were able to colonize the island, which were not, and why? How did new species develop on St. Martin? How does our collection of animals interact with each other to form a unique ecosystem? How is it changing with the arrival of new species? While none of these questions will ever be answered completely, this presentation will explore many aspects of St. Martin’s unique natural heritage and why studying it is so fascinating and rewarding.

Battle for St. Martin: Endemics and Invasives
One of the most interesting facets of island ecology is the presence of endemic species, those which evolved on an island and are found nowhere else in the world. On St. Martin, there are a number of species that are found only on St. Martin, or only on a few neighboring islands. Because island ecology is shaped by the fact that islands typically have relatively few species, introduced or invasive species can have a huge impact on islands. In this presentation, we learn about St. Martin’s endemic wildlife and what makes these species unique and fascinating, as well as the invasive species that have changed the balance of life on the island or threaten to do so.

A Tour of St. Martin: Habitats and Their Inhabitants
Although St. Martin is only 87 square kilometers, the island has a number of different types of habitat . From the thorny scrub and forested ravines to salt ponds and mangroves, each type of habitat is home to a unique group of animals that are suited to live there. In this presentation, we travel through a dozen habitats and take a look at some of the animals that live in each one.

A History of Biology on St. Martin
We have a great many things to learn about the wildlife of St. Martin. While our knowledge is incomplete, what we do know comes from the work of all types of people, dating back to the 1600s. During the early period, much work was a collaboration between explorers and collectors who had little scientific knowledge and scientists working in European museums who never visited the island. Later, resident naturalists began to play a larger role in our biological understanding of the island. During the 20th century, easier travel allowed more specialists to work directly on St. Martin, and today biological research takes many forms. In this presentation, we look at many of the people responsible for our understanding of the wildlife of St. Martin and the animals they discovered and researched.