Andrei Alyokhin, associate professor and graduate coordinator, University of Maine School of Biology and Ecology (and EES faculty), will be sworn as the member of the Governor’s Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Council March 26 in the Deering Building, Maine Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources in Augusta. The IPM Council was established by the Maine Legislature to promote, expand and enhance integrated pest management within the state with the goal of having a less environmentally damaging and more economically sustainable approaches to preventing pest damage. The council serves both advisory and coordination roles in the effort. Alyokhin’s research interests include potatoes and insect pest management.
Juvenile wood frogs emigrating from their birthplaces in vernal pools into the terrestrial ecosystem may transfer mercury they accumulated during larval development into the food web, according to a team of University of Maine researchers.
The team, led by U.S. Geological Survey and UMaine wildlife ecologist (and EES faculty member) Cynthia Loftin, conducted its study at four short-hydroperiod (likely to dry by mid-June) seasonal woodland pools in Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island, Maine.
The researchers found mercury levels in the 1- to 2-week-old embryos were near or below detectable amounts, indicating that transfer of mercury from mother to eggs was absent or minimal. However, mercury accumulated rapidly in the 6- to 8-week-old tadpoles.
Mercury, a heavy, toxic metal, occurs naturally and is introduced into the environment by metal processing, coal burning and mining. People are exposed to mercury by eating contaminated fish and wildlife. Over time, low-grade mercury exposure in people can impact cognitive thinking and fine motor skills.
While concentrations of total mercury differed among the pools and were greatest in the unburned softwood-dominated setting, the levels increased in all pools throughout the season. The pools dried in June and refilled with September and October rain.
Wood frogs can travel some distance from their natal pools. During summer, fall and winter, they live in wetlands and on land. In the winter, they hibernate underneath leaf litter, woody debris and soil. They return to pools in the spring to mate.
For a better understanding of the transport of this contaminant from seasonal pools into the surrounding environment and potential for uptake into the terrestrial food web, future studies should focus on the ratio of total mercury to methylmercury (produced by burning of fossil fuels) in embryos, tadpoles and juvenile frogs leaving natal ponds, according to the research team, writing in the journal Northeastern Naturalist.
Loftin teamed with Aram Calhoun, professor of wetland ecology and (EES Director); Sarah Nelson, assistant research professor at the Senator George J. Mitchell Center; Adria Elskus, associate professor of biological sciences (and EES faculty); and Kevin Simon, assistant professor in the School of Biology and Ecology, to conduct the study.
Several media outlets, including the Bangor Daily News covered a keynote address given Thursday by former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell at the BIOGEOMON conference in Northport, Maine. The conference was co-hosted by UMaine. Mitchell told hundreds of international scientists, students and researchers that precise data can help solve problems such as streams, lakes and soils tainted by pollution. Mitchell also noted that projects such as UMaine’s long-term research at the Bear Brook Watershed are critical to policy development. Bangor TV stations WABI and WVII both interviewed UMaine soil scientist and EES Faculty Member Ivan Fernandez, who was one of the organizers of the conference.
Contact: Jessica Bloch, (207) 581-3777
UMaine Gets $3 Million NSF IGERT Award For An Adaptation To Abrupt Climate Change Program
The need to adapt environmental policies and management strategies to meet the social and ecological challenges caused by abrupt climate change events around the world is the focus of a new graduate program at the University of Maine beginning this fall, funded by a five-year, $3 million award from the National Science Foundation (NSF).
EES Faculty member and UMaine’s Climate Change Institute Associate Professor of Biology Jasmine Saros will be the principle investigator on the project.
For the full article:
EES Faculty member and UMaine Economist Jonathan Rubin was part of a team of researchers that found the fuels of the future will be cleaner, cheaper and more “made in America” if the United States adopts a national Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS).
For more information, visit:
EES Faculty Member Ivan Fernandez is co-leading a landmark whole-watershed manipulation project to study effects of acid precipitation. Read more about the study and its impacts on our understanding of forest soil and water quality in Maine’s North Woods in the Summer 2012 issue of UMaine Today.
Ecologist Examining Loss of Native Bees
Frank Drummond, EES Faculty member and UMaine professor of insect ecology, has received $3.3 million as part of a larger $6.6 million grant-funded regional study of native bees, which are necessary and critical players in fruit and berry crop pollination in the Northeast.
For the full article, visit http://umaine.edu/news/blog/2012/06/27/ecologist-examining-loss-of-native-bees/
Two EES faculty members were recipients of the 2012 NSFA Faculty Awards.
NSFA Outstanding Public Service Award—2012
Robert J. Lilieholm, E.L. Giddings Associate Professor of Forest Policy
School of Forest Resources
Rob Lilieholm’s primary focus is on forest economics and policy, important areas in the most heavily forested state in the nation. His commitment to public service runs deep and is obvious from even a quick look at his activities. Since coming to UMaine in 2006, Rob has worked to develop and promote the “Wildlands and Woodlands” vision for New England. He coauthored the Wildlands and Woodlands New England report, which has been received favorable coverage in publications such as the New York Times and Boston Globe. He has also been actively involved in the Acadian Internship program, a public-service-oriented training and internship program. Rob spends much time engaging with policymakers at local, state, and federal levels. He served on the Keeping Maine’s Forest-based Economy Steering Committee, where his common-sense approach helped the diverse group reach consensus. In addition to many presentations to researchers, stakeholder groups, and the general public, Rob serves on the boards of several environmental organizations in the region. Along with his expertise and enthusiasm, the people Rob interacts with appreciate his collaborative spirit and unwavering respect for different perspectives. Clearly, Rob Lilieholm epitomizes the public-service mission of the University of Maine, and the college is pleased to award him the 2012 Outstanding Public Service Award.
NSFA Outstanding Research Award—2012
Michael Kinnison, Professor
School of Biology & Ecology
Michael Kinnison has developed an extraordinarily successful research program in two general areas: the causes and consequences of rapid evolution, and the conservation of freshwater fishes. He is internationally recognized for his contributions to the discipline of evolutionary biology through his research on how organisms evolve in modern times in response to natural and human pressures. More recently, he has expanded this work to establish a new field that considers the consequences of such evolution for ecological processes in general, as well as for applied applications in human health, food security, and the environment. In the words of one of his peers, “Michael Kinnison is, quite simply, a paradigm changer….he has fundamentally changed the way we view evolution.” At the same time, he is well respected within the state of Maine for his applied research on conservation and restoration efforts for threatened and endangered fish species. Since receiving his Ph.D. in 1999, Mike has published numerous highly cited journal articles, commentaries, books and book chapters. Since coming to Maine, he has shown tremendous successes in funding his research program, bringing more than $3.5 million to the university. His successful research program spills over into his teaching where he provides excellent opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students to begin their own research careers. Mike is known for his immense enthusiasm for science. It is due to this enthusiasm, commitment, and innovation that the college is pleased to award Michael Kinnison the 2012 Outstanding Research Award.