Concurrent Sessions - I. Restoration Potential and Barriers in Maine Rivers
- When Perceptions Become Reality: River Restoration Potential in Maine and the Role of Legacies – Karen Wilson
- The Influence of Alewives on the Biogeochemical Cycling of Nitrogen in Nequasset Lake, Woolwich, Maine – Beverly Johnson
- A Bioeconomic Analysis of the Benefits of River Restoration to Coastal Fisheries - Guillermo Herrera
- Translating Knowledge to Action: Using a Boundary Approach to Connect Researchers to Stakeholders - Eileen Johnson
When Perceptions Become Reality: River Restoration Potential in Maine and the Role of Legacies
Karen Wilson, University of Southern Maine
Abstract: Until the 1970s, the Kennebec and Androscoggin rivers followed similar industrial trajectories, with the rivers valued for little more than open sewers for effluents until the decline in the economic importance of these traditional river corridor industries. From the 1970s onward, the social, economic and ecological state of these rivers diverged, with people along the Kennebec embracing its potential as an ecological and recreational amenity, while many along the Androscoggin continued to see the system as degraded and undesirable. In this project we have used these perceived differences to better understand the social, economic, ecological, and institutional drivers of resilience of river systems – either in the positive sense that allows recovery of these systems to an ecologically functional and economically beneficial state, or in the negative sense that preconceptions and assumptions lead to feedbacks which prevent recovery. Our group has used a wide range of ecological and fisheries investigations to characterize the ecological state of these rivers, inventory formal and informal groups associated with the rivers and conducted stated preference stakeholder surveys to help explain the ability or failure to achieve restoration. To integrate these multi-disciplinary approaches we have been modeling potential restoration scenarios using river herring as the link between habitats and economies, with the intent of providing guidance and ideas to interested communities.
The Influence of Alewives on the Biogeochemical Cycling of Nitrogen in Nequasset Lake, Woolwich Maine
Beverly Johnson, Bates College
Abstract: The anadromous alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus) contributes marine-derived nutrients (MDN) in the form of nitrogen to freshwater lakes via excretion and mortality as they migrate upstream during the spawning season. The focus of this study is to determine the degree to which MDN are imported into Nequasset Lake, utilized by plankton, and incorporated into the sedimentary record. Alewife fish counts were performed and water was collected by the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust (KELT) throughout the 2012 spawning season. The waters were analyzed for nutrient concentrations (TDN, NO3-, and NH4+, PO43-, and dissolved silica). Additionally, samples of water, plankton and seston from the surface and the bottom of Nequasset lake and discharge and water samples from the four major inlet streams were collected on a monthly basis from April through October, 2012.
During peak alewife migration, TDN concentrations at the top of the fish ladder were correlated to fish count, indicating that the fish were importing nitrogen into the lake. The δ15NNO3- in the middle of the lake and the surface plankton were enriched in 15N during the spawning period relative to the other time periods analyzed. Our preliminary interpretations suggest that the assimilation of MDN in the middle of the lake may be occurring, but continued analysis of samples currently in hand is necessary to determine the relative importance of other sources of isotopically enriched nitrogen (via streams) into the lake.
A Bioeconomic Analysis of the Benefits of River Restoration to Coastal Fisheries
Guillermo Herrera, Bowdoin College
Abstract: River systems in Maine (USA) once supported abundant populations of anadromous river herring, but these populations have been reduced by industrial pollution as well as dams and other obstructions of fish passage. Some of these river systems have experienced recovery, and policy initiatives (such as dam removal or constraints on emissions) have the potential to restore river herring populations in the direction of their historical levels. We seek to characterize and quantify the potential downstream benefits of such restoration actions. While river herring might have intrinsic, or existence, value, and may also augment populations of game fish (e.g., striped bass and bluefish), we focus here on the indirect value of river herring in the nearshore marine environment, where they serve as a forage fish for potentially valuable (if severely depleted) commercial groundfish populations. We employ a bioenergetic, or food-web, model to project the potential benefits of increase river herring populations in a system where the predators (groundfish) have an array of prey items to choose from. The realized benefits of restored river herring populations will depend critically on the management regime prevailing in the groundfish resource; in particular we examine the potential benefits of managing the nearshore resource as a distinct substock of the larger groundfish population. Given the prospective carrying capacity of a restored habitat for river herring, we can estimate an upper bound for the resulting economic benefits.
Translating Knowledge to Action: Using a Boundary Approach to Connect Researchers to Stakeholders
Eileen Johnson, Bowdoin College
Presentation available (pdf format)
Abstract: A dimension of this river restoration research project is the identification and incorporation of mechanisms to translate research results into meaningful action. The research team has worked closely with stakeholders throughout the process of framing and carrying out research. Initial research included identifying effective ways in which stakeholders receive information from researchers and stakeholders’ preferences for engagement throughout the research process. This talk provides an overview of the results of this initial research and a discussion of how this work is being framed within the emerging field of boundary management. Boundary management describes approaches for better linking science to action through managing the science – policy and researchers – stakeholders interface (Clark et al., 2011). Boundary management includes use of the models as a boundary object (Star, 2010), the role of boundary workers in facilitating research (Clark et al., 2011), and the institutionalization of these relationships through the formation of a boundary organization (Guston, 2001). This talk will outline how the research is contributing to the field of boundary management within the context of river restoration through examining the role of each of these approaches, the role of the modeling scenarios as a boundary object, the role of students as boundary workers or agents in achieving identified shorter term research and action goals, and the potential for establishing a river institute as a boundary organization.