The Associated Press spoke with Rick Wahle, a University of Maine research professor at the Darling Marine Center, and cited UMaine research for a report about the steady decline in the number of baby lobsters settling off the coast of Maine and how the decrease could put an end to recent record catches. The article cited a UMaine survey of 11 Gulf of Maine locations that found young lobsters have declined by more than half of their 2007 levels. UMaine divers have been tracking the settlement rates of Maine lobsters since the late 1980s, according to the article. Wahle said the lobsters could be thinning out for many reasons, including rising ocean temperature. He added the lobster decline is “telling a story of gradually — and more recently rapidly — declining settlement in the Gulf of Maine on a widespread basis,” which is raising concern. ABC News, Yahoo News, NBC News, Portland Press Herald, Morning Sentinel and WABI (Channel 5) carried the AP report.
Research and outreach efforts being done at the University of Maine to learn more about the devastating effects of the emerald ash borer were mentioned in a Morning Sentinel article about how the Asian beetles are threatening the livelihood of Maine’s American Indian basket makers by destroying ash trees, which are needed to create the traditional baskets. The basket makers are part of an anti-borer coalition that includes university researchers, entomologists and forestry officials. For the last several years, the faculty at UMaine’s Senator George J. Mitchell Center and Maine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative have hosted an annual symposium about the invasive pests. Last year, the event drew 65 people from a variety of state and federal agencies, entomologists and Wabanakis. The article also stated UMaine researchers have begun mapping existing ash and collecting and preserving ash seeds that could be replanted after a potential wave of devastation.
Research being conducted at the University of Maine was cited in the Maine Public Broadcasting Network report “Maine bracing for another spruce budworm outbreak.” The spruce budworm, one of the most damaging native insects of spruce and fir trees, is currently attacking trees in Quebec, and Maine forestry officials fear the insect could start destroying state forests in the next two to four years. The last outbreak in Maine began around 1970 and ended in 1985, killing more than 20 percent of the state’s fir trees, according to the Maine Forest Products Council. Patrick Strauch of the Maine Forest Products Council, told MPBN this time landowners hope to stay ahead of the bug and do targeted, presalvage cutting. Researchers at the University of Maine are helping with the preventative effort by conducting modeling to help landowners plan ahead.
A 2013 study by University of Maine economist Todd Gabe was cited in the Mainebiz article, “Farm Credit East merger seen as beneficial to Maine farmers, loggers, commercial fishermen.” According to Gabe’s study, the forest industry in Maine has a total economic impact of $8 billion and direct employment of 17,075 workers.
The Scotsman reported on the recently published findings of a biodiversity research project led by the University of St. Andrews in collaboration with researchers from around the world, including Brian McGill, an associate professor of ecological modeling at the University of Maine. The researchers found that despite fears of a global biodiversity crisis, there has been no consistent drop in the number of species seen locally around the world. The research into 100 communities and a total of 35,000 species found that while there were major changes in species found in any one place, the total number of plants and animals did not significantly change. The findings were published in the journal Science.
The project, which was led by the University of St. Andrews in collaboration with researchers from around the world — including the University of Maine’s Brian McGill — found that despite fears of a global biodiversity crisis, there has been no consistent drop in the number of species found locally around the world.
The research into 100 communities and a total of 35,000 species — from trees to starfish — found that while there were major changes in species found in any one place, the total number of plants and animals did not significantly change, according to the release.
The researchers, who were surprised by the findings, say the study should not detract from the threat many of the world’s species are under, but that policymakers should focus on changes in biodiversity composition, as well as loss, the release states.
“Conservation scientists will need to shift from just talking about how many species are found in a place to talking about which species are found in a place,” said McGill, an associate professor of ecological modeling. “Put simply, species composition changed more often than species number, and these kinds of changes should be a focus for future study.”
The full news release is online.
The Maine Studies Program at the University of Maine has announced the winners of the 10th annual Maine Studies Research and Creativity Awards.
Each year the award is given to an undergraduate and graduate student — or group of students — to highlight exemplary student research related to the study of Maine. All UMaine research papers or projects related to Maine and created within the last year are eligible for the award.
This year’s undergraduate winner is a group of students: Benjamin Algeo, Shannon Brenner, Alexandria Jesiolowski, Joshua Morse, Victoria Schuyler and Braden Sinclair. Their interdisciplinary research project, “Building a Better Orono Together: Cultivating Organic Community Connection with University and Orono Stakeholders,” examined the relations between UMaine and Orono and exposed the students to the valuable practice of engaged research under the guidance of Robert Glover, an assistant professor of political science.
Hollie Smith is this year’s graduate winner. Her research paper, “Science and Policy in Maine: Opportunities for Engagement with the Maine State Legislature,” examines ways graduate students at UMaine might contribute more effectively to Maine’s policymaking process. Laura Lindenfeld, an associate professor of mass communication and media studies and public policy, supervised the project.
For the past 10 years, the University of Maine Foundation has provided financial support for the awards.
The Canadian-American Center at the University of Maine announced it is accepting applications for the 2014 Summer Foreign Language and Areas Studies (FLAS) Award.
The award is federally funded and is offered to students during the academic year and summer to support the bilingual research (English and French) of master’s and doctoral candidates whose studies focus on Canada.
Summer FLAS Awards are specifically aimed at developing language skills. The awards are open on a competitive basis to U.S. citizens and permanent residents who seek to improve their proficiency in French as a tool for graduate research.
Candidates must be willing to commit to six weeks of intensive French study. Programs covered by the award are offered in the U.S. for students with novice level of proficiency, and in Canada for students with higher levels of proficiency. The federal grant covers up to $4,000 in tuition and offers a living allowance stipend.
The Canadian-American Center is designated by the U.S. Department of Education as a National Resource Center on Canada and provides the award as part of its mission.
More information, including how to apply, is available online.
Sandra De Urioste-Stone, assistant professor of nature-based tourism, and John Daigle, associate professor of forest recreation management, have received a $34,499 grant from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry for the study: “How Well Are We Serving the Outdoor Recreation Public?” The purpose of this study is to investigate perspectives on outdoor recreation preferences and priorities, and perceptions on tourism development to help the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands and other outdoor recreation managers to better understand current demand and improve decision-making. An online survey will be used to test conventional wisdom and open up new thinking regarding what the public wants and how they can best be served. In addition, study participants will be asked questions about their attitudes and beliefs about developing sustainable tourism in their communities. Data collected will be used to develop the 2015–20 Maine State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP). The plan requires that an analysis of outdoor recreation demand, supply, trends, and ultimately priorities be documented.
The survey population for this study seeks to entice responses from both the general residents of Maine as well as nonresidents who have recreated in Maine and have paid some type of recreation fee for fishing, hunting, camping reservations, etc.
While the data collected on recreational preferences and behaviors will benefit the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, the questions related to sustainable tourism will have new scientific significance. Questions on sustainable tourism will utilize an attempt to revalidate the Sustainable Tourism Attitude Scale, a published psychometric instrument that has not yet been implemented on a statewide scale.
Phys.org published an article on research conducted by a University of Maine team that found stratification of the North Atlantic Ocean contributed to summer warming and glacial melting in Scotland during the period recognized for abrupt cooling 12,900 to 11,600 years ago in the Northern Hemisphere. Prevailing scientific understanding has been that glaciers advanced in the Northern Hemisphere throughout most of the Younger Dryas Stadial (YDS) — a 1,300-year period of dramatic cooling. However, the researchers determined carbon-dated bog sediment indicates the 9,500-square-kilometer ice cap over Rannoch Moor in Scotland retreated at least 500 years before the end of the YDS.