This 3-year project, funded by a NOAA “B-WET” grant and coordinated by Sarah Nelson, will engage 1,275 students and 30 high school teachers in research collaborations with professional scientists on the changing nature of the snowpack across Maine. The project focus is on the coastal climate zone where snowmelt provides clues for diadromous fish migration and changes in flood flows. Data will be used to expand the number and the geographic scope of existing monitoring programs. The creation of an ongoing field-based snowpack monitoring program will bring students into regular contact with working scientists and has the potential to continue for many years.
Researcher Sarah Nelson was interviewed recently by the Portland Press Herald about her work with dragonfly larvae, just one of the “sentinel species” that can provide early indicators to scientists about potentially harmful environmental conditions. Nelson’s work focuses on food web mercury levels in Acadia National Park and in 25 other national parks across the nation.
Wednesday September 18, 2013
107 Norman Smith Hall
Professor Mark Lubell, Director of the Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior at the University of California-Davis, will share lessons learned from more than 15 years conducting economics valuation research to inform public policy decisions. He will speak about social networks as core components of policy processes and individual decision-making. The emerging field of network science is developing theories and methods for studying networks in empirical settings. This talk provides an overview of the application of network science to public policy, including case studies of water management, sustainable viticulture, and climate change on public lands.
Image Description: lubell
Kristine is a team member on the Protecting Natural Resources at the Community Scale project.
To read the full MPBN story or listen to a podcast of the show, visit the MPBN website.
Image Description: Vernal_Pool_off_College_Ave_5-12-74118
Citizen scientists who are collecting dragonfly larvae at 25 National Parks under the guidance of Mitchell Center researcher Sarah Nelson, now have a place to share their discoveries. The dragonfly larvae will be used to determine mercury levels in National Park lakes and to test the theory that dragonfly larvae can be used as indictors of ecosystem health. See the project Facebook page, Six-legged Scouts in the National Parks for more information.
SSI researcher Jessica Leahy was interviewed for an article in the Kennebec Journal that appeared July 13, 2013. Leahy, Associate Professor of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources in the UMaine School of Forest Resources, discussed Maine’s Great Ponds Act which allows open access to undeveloped lands in Maine for hunting and fishing. Leahy said in the article that she would advise hunters to adhere to the wishes of land owners. “Hunting on private property is a privilege, not a right,” she commented. Leahy is also co-leader of SSI’s People, Landscape and Communities (PLACE) project. See full Kennebec Journal article online…
July 29, 2013
Orono, ME – Maine and New Hampshire’s coastal tourism and shellfish industries contribute millions of dollars annually to the regional economy. In Maine in 2010, coastal tourism and recreation added $1.1 billion to Maine’s gross domestic product, while shellfish landings in that same year generated revenues of $347 million. But these industries and the coastal environment they depend on are vulnerable to a variety of factors, including pollution, climate change, and invasive species.
A team of researchers led by the University of Maine (UMaine) and the University of New Hampshire (UNH) will conduct a three-year study of the many factors affecting the health of their shared coastal ecosystem. This collaboration, funded by a $6 million award from the National Science Foundation (NSF), aims to strengthen the scientific basis for decision making related to the management of recreational beaches and shellfish harvesting. This research is a direct outgrowth of Maine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative (SSI), supported by the NSF EPSCoR program.
The project, titled the New England SusTainability Consortium (NEST), is managed by the EPSCoR programs at UMaine and UNH in partnership with College of the Atlantic, University of New England, University of Southern Maine, Great Bay Community College, Plymouth State University, and Keene State College. In Maine, researchers will also collaborate with several state agencies and other stakeholders, including the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR), Maine State Department of Education (DOE), and Maine Healthy Beaches (MHB).
“I am delighted that the National Science Foundation selected the New England SusTainability Consortium, for this Research Infrastructure Improvement grant,” said Senator Susan Collins (R-ME). “Through both tourism as well as commercial fishing, our state’s economy is highly dependent on the ecological wellbeing of the Gulf of Maine. This grant will help fund the vital research performed by faculty and students at the University of Maine as they seek to find ways to reduce pollution caused by coastal runoff and assist local governments in making informed decisions regarding the closure of beaches and shellfish beds.”
“This is good news for Maine, and indeed for all coastal areas,” said Senator Angus King (I-ME). “Our shellfish industry is facing many threats – climate change, warming oceans, acidifying waters, and an increase in green crabs, which are decimating clam flats. Our state simply can’t lose another fishery. I look forward to seeing the results of the good work that this grant will enable, like hopefully more targeted closures of flats. Our changing environment is a big problem, and while we work out broad solutions, we must also focus on mitigating the direct impacts on people and ecosystems.”
UMaine President Paul W. Ferguson affirmed the project’s importance, stating, “This NSF grant recognizes the leadership and contribution of University of Maine scholars who aim to support coastal ecosystems, economies, and communities by promoting sustainable policies and practices in Maine.”
The project combines scientific knowledge and local expertise to improve resource management decisions. There is widespread agreement among resource managers and scientists in both states that current beach and shellfish management decisions are challenging and can be improved by strengthening partnerships among scientists, managers, and communities.
NEST uses a collaborative process where resource managers and other stakeholders participate in defining problems, identifying research needs, interpreting results, and designing solutions. The team will select a number of study sites in each state to investigate how natural processes like water flow in rivers, and human activities like land development, in coastal watersheds influence bacterial dynamics. Project research will advance understanding of how environmental and climatic conditions affect the dynamics of bacterial pathogens. The project studies how human activities contribute to and are affected by these bacterial dynamics and related public resource management decisions. Coupling these distinct strands of research offers a more comprehensive view of beach and shellfish management. This innovative approach seeks to generate cost-effective strategies for reducing bacterial pollution. By identifying solutions that strategically avert risks to humans, while supporting economic development and ecosystem health, NEST will develop regional capacity between Maine and New Hampshire to advance sustainability solutions through science.
Maine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative (SSI) is supported in large part by a $20 million, 5-year investment through the National Science Foundation’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (NSF EPSCoR Program). SSI enhances Maine’s research capacity and promotes innovation and societal benefit through the field of sustainability science. This innovative initiative represents an extensive network of over 350 researchers and students and 200+ community-based stakeholders working together to advance solutions across Maine.
Researchers from SSI’s Protecting Natural Resources at the Community Scale (Vernal Pool) team have been awarded a grant from the NSF Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems (CNH) program for their project, “Of Pools and People: Small Natural Features with Large Ecosystem Functions in Urbanizing Landscapes. “ This 4-year project was funded for $1.49M and is scheduled to begin September 1, 2013. The project will explore the biophysical and socioeconomic components of vernal pool ecology and management. PI: Aram Calhoun; Co-PIs: Mac Hunter, Kathleen Bell, Cyndy Loftin, Krista Capps
See more about this project…
SSI Doctoral Student Kristine Hoffman was featured recently in a news broadcast on Bangor TV stations Fox 22 and ABC 7. The story highlights Kristine’s research focusing on the conservation and habitat of the blue spotted salamander (Ambystoma laterale). Kristine is looking at the breeding ecology, habitat selection and life histories of blue-spotted salamanders, including the distance they emigrate from vernal pools.
Kristine is a member on SSI’s Protecting Natural Resources at the Community Scale (Vernal Pools) project.
For more information see the news article on University of Maine website.
A video of the news story is available on Fox Bangor News website.
David Hart, Director of the Senator George J Mitchell Center, will be giving a lecture titled “Changing the World, Beginning in Maine ” at 6:00 pm on Tuesday August 20, 2013 at the Northeast Harbor Library in Northeast Harbor, Maine.
David will discuss the role of the Sustainability Solutions Initiative (SSI) in mobilizing the power of Maine’s universities and colleges to help tackle complex problems at the intersection of environmental, social and economic issues. From developing tidal power in Cobscook Bay to coping with increased flooding in Ellsworth, he will illustrate how more than a dozen SSI research teams are working with citizens and communities across the state to address urgent sustainability challenges.
David will be introduced by Ellen Pope, the Vice President & Chief Operating Officer of the Maine Community Foundation.
The Northeast Harbor Library is located on 1 Joy Road in Northeast Harbor. Light refreshments will be served.
For more information please call 207/581-3244.
Image Description: Earth boy
Tue, Dec 10 1:30 pm - 3:30 pm SSI All Team Meeting
Wed, Dec 11 11:30 am - 12:30 pm Environmental Authority in the Canadian Arctic
Thu, Dec 19 7:30 am - 10:00 am Bruswick Landing- Accelerating an Innovative and Renewable Future
Wed, Apr 9 - Northeast Biomass Heating Expo