Archive for the ‘News’ Category

SSI Post-doctoral Fellow Christine Lamanna Tackles Disappearing Plants Mystery

Monday, July 14th, 2014

lamannaPlants that grow in alpine environments are often the proverbial “canary in the coal mine” when it comes to climate change. A number of plants have disappeared from Acadia National Park despite being protected for nearly a century. Climate change is the prime suspect. Christine Lamanna, a post-doctoral fellow at the Mitchell Center’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative (SSI), is working with stakeholders and citizen scientists to figure out what this means for the future of native plants.

Working as part of the Effects of Climate Change on Organisms (ECCO) team at SSI, LaManna and a diverse working group including citizen volunteers, is conducting research at Acadia to find out why 20 percent of the park’s plant species have disappeared since the late 1800s. Additionally, Lamanna is creating maps predicting how important species in the state may respond to future climate change – and how those changes could affect the state economically, culturally and ecologically. See more on this story

Scholarly Article: Vernal Pools Conservation Calls for Diverse Perspectives

Monday, July 14th, 2014

AramPoolA new article in the Proceedings of the Academy of Sciences (PNAS) documents nearly 15 years of crucial, dynamic vernal pools research and management by UMaine’s Aram Calhoun who is leading an interdisciplinary team at the Sustainability Solutions Initiative (SSI), a program of the Mitchell Center.

In the article, published this week online at, Calhoun and three coauthors analyze a timeline of action and scholarship that spans from 1999 to the present. In that time, the Professor of Wetland Ecology and Director of UMaine’s Ecology and Environmental Sciences Program has collaborated closely with academic colleagues, government at all levels, non-governmental organizations, landowners, developers and concerned citizens in an effort to create an environment in which these small, but significant, wetlands can flourish in all their biological diversity.

The article’s co-authors and SSI collaborators are Jessica S. Jansujwicz, a SSI post-doctoral fellow, Kathleen P. Bell, Associate Professor of Economics, and Malcolm L. Hunter, Jr., Libra Professor of Conservation Biology and Professor of Wildlife Ecology. The authors acknowledge and thank the many additional faculty and students who contributed to the research and outreach reported in the article.

“It is our hope that the work presented in this paper will inspire other researchers, practitioners, and citizens dedicated to planned development and conservation of natural resources to forge new working relationships,” Calhoun said. “ Our work shows that time, patience, open-mindedness, and the willingness to assume a bit of risk are key to successful collaborations on difficult conservation issues. We have found that the time invested is well worth the effort. The exchange and synthesis of diverse ideas lead to outcomes that are more widely embraced and enduring.” See more on this story

Press Release: Frogs, Floods & the Future: Balancing Environment & Economy on MDI

Monday, July 14th, 2014

Mitchell Lecture 9-12-01201_2Senator George Mitchell and David Hart will appear at the Jesup Memorial Library on Tuesday, July 15 at 7:00 PM to speak about the economic and environmental conundrums facing us on MDI, and how we can work together to address these issues. 

For example, we need more housing on MDI, but we want to preserve the natural environment and protect our wetlands.  Severe storms are increasing, which results in greater flooding that damages our roads. Our economy depends on tourists who flock to our beautiful beaches, but the pollution of coastal waters is a continuing concern. And invasive insects, like the emerald ash borer, threaten our forests.  The problems we face require solutions that involve not just science, but also strong alliances between citizens, conservationists, municipalities, and the business community.

See full press release…

Bay to Baxter: As the Penobscot River changes, so must we

Monday, July 14th, 2014

PenobscotNarrowsBridgeIn a July 11, 2014 op-ed for Bangor Daily News, SSI researcher Rob Lilieholm reflects on the history and changes in the Penobscot watershed, and on the future for towns along the river in a time of great transition.

“Those who came before us used the river for fish and transport, and they harnessed its falls for industrial and residential power. They shaped a landscape and a way of life, and they did it to meet the needs of their time” says Lilieholm. “We, too, must adapt and view the river differently.”

Read full op-ed here.

SSI’s Linda Silka Speaks about Innovation in the Maine Economy on MPBN

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

K-A_Group_Meeting_kw70968Linda Silka, SSI team member and Director of UMaine’s Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center, spoke about the role of innovation in the State’s economy in a recent interview with MPBN. She reflects on the importance of bringing people together with different skill sets and experiences in order to promote such innovation.  The latest issue of Maine Policy Review, which is published by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center, is devoted to innovation in the Maine economy.

Hear MPBN interview…

UMaine Researchers Helping Coastal Communities Weather The Storms

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

SSI resShaleen_Alex_KW73654earchers Shaleen Jain and Esperanza Stancioff were featured in a June 23 article in the Bangor Daily News which discussed the increase in frequency and intensity of coastal storms and, more specifically, their impact on culverts.

 The researchers have been working to understand the impacts of climate change on coastal communities and infrastructure, working closely with people from Lincolnville and Ellsworth to develop plans to deal with the overtapped culverts. See BDN article…

See more on this project: Helping Communities Weather The Storms

Local Foods a Priority for Mainers

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

food-basketlowres1Mainers prefer to buy local food from in-state farmers, fishermen and businesses, according to a new survey. The findings are indicative of a sea change happening in the food industry, says SSI/Mitchell Center researcher Timothy Waring, who was part of a multi-institution team that prepared the report. And Maine is on the leading edge.

In total, 80 percent of those surveyed said they purchase at least some produce, meat and fish from local sources, according to a report by Maine Food Strategy. Two-thirds of respondents said they did so out of a desire to support local food providers.

“Maine is a national leader in supporting the local foods industry,” said Waring, Assistant Professor of Social-Ecological Systems Modeling and a member of the Sustainability Solution Initiative’s (SSI). “People have altruistic motives when it comes to local foods, sometimes at a monetary cost to themselves. They want to support the community. That’s not the reason people normally go to a grocery store.”

See more…

Article Examines the Effects of Film on Sustainability Values

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

posterResearch published recently in the International Journal of Sustainable Development by Bridie McGreavy and Laura Lindenfeld examines how films featuring global warming and climate change can affect public understanding and sustainable development values. The researchers analyzed three films that feature global warming prominently, and examined how race and gender representations in entertainment may affect our collective abilities to create a sustainable future.

See publication:

Other media:

Student Research Featured in UMaine Today

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

SRMeyerThe current edition of UMaine Today features the research of two SSI graduate students. Spencer Meyer is featured for his work on the Maine Futures Community Mapper, which earned him and his advisors the 2014 President’s Research Impact Award. A member of the “Mapping a Sustainable Future” team, Spencer graduated with a PhD from UMaine in May and will begin a two-year fellowship with The Nature Conservancy’s NatureNet Fellows Program at Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies this fall.

photoThe article on Jenny Shrum focuses on her research of the effects of climate change on maple syrup production in the state. A member of the Effects of Climate Change on Organisms (ECCO) team, Jenny is currently a Master’s student with SSI and the UMaine School of Biology and Ecology.

 See UMaine Today Stories:

Improved Fish Advisory for Pregnant Women

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

fishadvisoryTwo studies by researchers at UMaine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative (SSI) uncovered compelling data on women’s knowledge of both the dangers and health benefits of eating fish while pregnant. The first study found that Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) advisory led women to decrease their consumption of fish, while a follow-up study found a newly-designed advisory led to a healthier, more balanced approach to fish consumption.

Mario Teisl, Professor in the School of Economics, will present and discuss results of the studies, which were published in two peer-reviewed journals, as a featured speaker at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2014 National Forum on Contaminants in Fish.

See more…