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Signs of the Seasons: A New England Phenology Program

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Drummond Quoted in TakePart Article on Climate Change Threatening Foods

Frank Drummond, entomologist at the University of Maine, was quoted in a TakePart article titled “Is climate change threatening Maine’s staple foods?” Drummond spoke about the spotted wing drosophila, a new fruit fly that is targeting the state’s blueberries. Drummond said the pests need to be monitored and managed, but harvesting berries earlier and using an experimental mesh trap could help keep the flies off the berries.

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Assessing a Sensitive, Storm-Stressed Ecosystem — B. Olsen et al.

The effects of Hurricane Sandy’s devastation on plant and bird communities in coastal marshes from Maine to Virginia are the focus of a 10-state study by researchers from the University of Maine, University of Connecticut, University of Delaware and Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Information gathered from more than 1,700 sites before and after the October 2012 hurricane will advance researchers’ understanding of how major disturbances affect these populations and what characteristics make a marsh more vulnerable. The data will also provide information on the allocation of millions of dollars of federal restoration funds, coastal management planning and the status of species at risk of endangerment. The yearlong study was awarded nearly $200,000 from the National Science Foundation and is part of the Saltmarsh Habitat and Avian Research Program, which was founded by a group of academic, governmental and nonprofit collaborators — including UMaine — to provide tidal-marsh bird conservation information. Brian Olsen, assistant professor in UMaine’s School of Biology and Ecology, is a co-principal investigator of the study. Maureen Correll, an ecology and environmental Ph.D. student in Olsen’s lab, is working on the project as part of her dissertation. Two additional student researchers from UMaine are expected to participate in the study. See the article here.

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Image Description: B.J. Olsen

Interview with Ivan Fernandez

UMaine researchers incorporate “chemical phenology” into their studies of the effects of climate change on forest ecosystems.

In this interview, Ivan J. Fernandez, Professor of Soil Science, School of Forest Resources and Climate Change Institute, discusses research in which he and graduate student Erin Redding set out to discover if the chemical composition of forest foliage could be used to monitor climate change effects on nutrient cycling in forest, a concept dubbed “chemical phenology”.

Fernandez has spent nearly 30 years studying the response of ecosystems to perturbations, or abrupt changes that set a system out of equilibrium.  He has been involved with the Bear Brook Watershed project since the late 1980’s when experiments conducted there helped guide policy decisions related to the reauthorization of the Clean Air Act of 1990.

Learn more about Fernandez’s chemical phenology research.

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Image Description: Picture of Prof. Ivan Fernandez collecting data in the woods

Tips for Making Spring Plant Observations

Wondering why this year’s milkweed shoots are coming out in different places than last year’s? Uncertain which forsythia buds are flowers versus leaves? Is there a difference? Lois Stack helps answer typical questions Signs of the Seasons volunteers may have when setting out to observe plants in spring. Lois is a professor of sustainable agriculture at UMaine and a Cooperative Extension specialist in ornamental horticulture. For years, she offered viewers gardening tips on the WABI-TV’s “Weekend Gardener” program and also wrote a regular horticulture column for the Kennebec Journal. See Lois’ spring observation tips.

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Image Description: Lois Stack

Interview with Dr. Abe Miller-Rushing

Dr. Abe Miller-Rushing, Science Coordinator for Acadia National Park and Schoodic Education and Research Center, is a phenologist studying the biological impacts of climate change and the role of citizen science in observing changes over time.  Abe is the former Assistant Director, and one of the founding scientists, for the USA-National Phenology Network, which houses the data collected by Signs of the Seasons volunteers. In the interview below, he discusses his position at Acadia, his research on Henry David Thoreau and the value of citizen science projects. Read the interview.

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Image Description: Dr. Abe Miller-Rushing


USA National Phenology Network: Taking the Pulse of Our Planet

University of Maine Cooperative Extension

Maine Sea Grant

Contact Information

Signs of the Seasons: A New England Phenology Program
377 Manktown Road
Waldoboro, Maine 04572
Phone: 207.832.0343 or 1.800.244.2104 (in Maine)E-mail:
The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469
A Member of the University of Maine System