The first Philip H. Faulkner Jr. Forest, Wildlife and Cultural Conservation Research Grant awarded to master’s student Amanda Melinchuk to study bats
Keene, New Hampshire – To honor their father’s appreciation of forests and efforts to preserve the Monadnock Region’s natural ecosystem, the sons of Philip H. Faulkner Jr. established a new five-year scholarship program for students pursuing Environmental Studies at Antioch University New England (AUNE). The Philip H. Faulkner Jr. Forest, Wildlife and Cultural Conservation Research Grant will be awarded to an Antioch University New England (AUNE) student whose research project best promotes the forest, wildlife and cultural conservation of the 400-acre Philip H. Faulkner Jr. Forest Preserve in Walpole and Westmoreland, New Hampshire. Amanda Melinchuk, a Master of Science in Environmental Studies student, received the first scholarship in the spring of 2015.
Faulkner Jr., a prominent businessman involved in the establishment of the Monadnock Conservancy, was born in Keene in 1924. He graduated from Philips Exeter Academy and Amherst College, and earned a Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School in 1949. He was dedicated to land conservation and the preservation of open space, and was named 1993 Citizen of the Year by the Greater Keene Chamber of Commerce. He passed away on June 16, 2014.
To commemorate Faulkner Jr.’s commitment to the environment and preserving the cultural, natural and wildlife resources of New Hampshire’s forests and beyond, AUNE’s Department of Environmental Studies will award the grant to deserving students such as Melinchuk, whose work explores New Hampshire’s declining bat populations and its impact on the local environment. She recently led a team of researchers and volunteers who built and study bat houses in three locations on AUNE’s campus.
Building bat houses or bat boxes and educating the community about the importance of bats in the environment are important ways to help bats, an important part of the region’s ecosystem, survive the dangers of wind farm collisions, White-nose Syndrome and habitat loss – contributing factors for declining populations of bats in the Northeast.
“All bats found in the Northeast are important to ecosystem function and humans because they are insectivorous and consume large quantities of pest insects such as mosquitos, beetles, stinkbugs, and leafhoppers,” Melinchuk said. “Bat Conservation International reports that a single little brown bat can catch and consume a thousand or more mosquito-sized insects in an hour.”
New Hampshire is home to eight of the 45 species of bats in North America. Five of them, the eastern red bat (Lasiurus borealis); the hoary bat (Lasiurus cinereus); the northern long-eared myotis (Myotis septentrionalis); the silver-haired bat (Lasionycteris noctivagans); and the tricolored bat (Perimyotis subflavus); are classified as “Near-threatened Species of Special Conservation Concern” in New Hampshire. The small-footed bat (Myotis leibii) is a threatened bat species in the state. The Granite State is also home to the big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus) and the little brown myotis (Myotis lucifugus).
For more information about Melinchuk’s research, please contact Dr. Peter Palmiotto, faculty supervisor for the Philip H. Faulkner Jr. Research Grant, at [email protected].
To contribute to the Philip H. Faulkner Jr. Forest, Wildlife and Cultural Conservation Research Grant, please contact Cindy Rodenhauser Stewart, AUNE’s director of institutional advancement, at [email protected]