Poster Session

Poster Winners and Abstracts

High School Poster Winners

For privacy reasons, names of high school student presenters are not included.

FIRST PLACE: Bangor High School
Analysis of Water Quality of the Kenduskeag River

Beginning in September 2018, members of the Bangor High School Stormwater Management Research Team monitored nine sites along the Kenduskeag River in Bangor, Maine. Data was collected 17 times over the course of four months. Monitoring involved both chemical and microbial parameters which have known relationships to stormwater impacts. The purpose of this data collection allowed investigation in four areas to see if stormwater events, impaired stream outfalls into the stream, presence of bridges, and distance from urban area had an impact on the water quality. During water quality testing, it was found that stormwater events, such as heavy wind and rain, do have an impact on water quality. It was found to be unclear whether or not bridges made an impact. Sampling sites near impaired outfalls showed some impact on water quality. In general water quality decreased as sites got closer to the municipal area of Bangor. Steps should be taken to mitigate the negative impact of urban area on surface water.

HONORABLE MENTION: John Bapst Memorial High School
Marine Debris and Microplastics on Mount Desert Rock

The Gulf of Maine is becoming increasingly important due to its biodiversity and economic profit. Marine debris has the potential to harm this ecosystem. This study was done on a remote island off the coast of Maine, Mount Desert Rock. It used observational techniques to quantify the amount of marine debris and microplastics. Microplastics samples were taken on MDR along with a survey of marine debris on the site. The data was analyzed in aims to find the points of highest density and compare between the micro and macro debris. Microplastics where found in large quantities along with the marine debris. The material most present in the marine debris was also plastic. The contributions of marine debris in the formation of microplastics as they weather down was supported heavily by this study. Along with this, the study shows that the three areas of production (commercial, fishing, food/drink) seem to have a fairly equal effect on the amount of debris found. Furthermore, the current patterns around the island, being tracked in another study, were compared with the density in an effort to find out how currents can affect the accumulation of debris. The study signifies the importance and urgency of finding ways to eliminate marine debris, especially in the form of plastic. Secondly, it shows the role each group and individual has in the pollution of the ocean. It shows the need for consumers and producers to become aware and to be held accountable for their actions and their results.


Undergraduate Poster Winners and Abstracts

Only the presenting student author(s) is listed.

FIRST PLACE: Michaela Murray
University of Maine
Uncovering the Current National Perceptions of Aquaculture Practices

In recent decades aquaculture production has expanded across the globe (Edwards, 2015). When practiced sustainably, it can work to feed growing populations while also fostering economic development. Maine has an opportunity to further develop its sustainable marine aquaculture industry alongside its well-regarded wild-harvest fishing industry. However, citizen perceptions of the industry are diverse and may include concerns about the environment, health consequences, and ethical interests (Bacher et al., 2014; Murray et al., 2017). Awareness of consumer and citizen perceptions are imperative for both the aquaculture industry and relevant stakeholders as efforts are made to increase aquaculture production.

Utilizing survey data collected through an internet panel in 2017 (n=1210), I explore how attitudes towards aquaculture differ across regions of the United States with a particular focus on areas that are aquaculture producers. Spatial differences of survey respondents perceptions pertaining to economic, environmental, and ethical repercussions of aquaculture practices are analyzed and presented. Key results highlight opportunities to enhance communication strategies for producers and decision-makers to improve consumer welfare across different regions of the U.S. when faced with potentially limited awareness of food product characteristics.

HONORABLE MENTION: Sadie Mae Palmatier
Bates College
The Community Rating System: Incentives for Building Climate Resilience

Building and incentivizing resilience in the face of sea-level rise is a priority in many communities. To achieve this end, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) created the Community Rating System (CRS) as an incentive program designed to enhance flood resilience in communities. Through the analysis of two communities affected by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, this presentation will explore how the measurement of climate resilience informs decision making about flood insurance policy and or/adapted migration.

Matthew Ahearn and Mariza Budri
University of Maine
Knowledge to Action Solutions by Linking Maine Institutions with Local Farms

Many large institutions across the State of Maine are expressing a growing concern about the origins of their food. While most of these establishments have a desire to source their food locally, a gap of knowledge exists between regional farms and the organizations that surround them. Maine Farm to Institution (MEFTI) is the primary stakeholder in a collaborative “Knowledge to Action” (K-A) process to address these challenges. Working closely with MEFTI, we will collect data to map Maine’s major institutions and surrounding farms that are interested in supplying institutions with local food. With a tangible map and a detailed excel spreadsheet, one of MEFTI’s highest knowledge-gap priorities will be addressed, and it may reveal opportunities for a more direct, fruitful, and mutually beneficial relationships between Maine farms and institutions. As students, we play a key role in identifying these potential relationships through a stakeholder-driven K-A research process. This foundational information may be a key step in helping more of Maine’s major institutions to provide fresh, local food to nourish the bodies and minds across our communities.

Tyler Allen
Saint Joseph’s College of Maine
Storm front nutrient input comparison between two ponds in Southern Maine

Nutrient input such as Nitrate, Orthophosphate, and Sulfate into bodies of water can adversely affect its ecosystem by increasing primary productivity, and decreasing DO (dissolved oxygen) levels. Nutrients can originate from many sources, naturally and anthropogenically. Excess nutrient input can lead to hyper eutrophication in which primary productivity (photosynthetic phytoplankton) bloom in large quantities. Phytoplankton will then die and oxidize, creating a hypoxic or anoxic environment. Water quality is critical to the state of Maine as its economy is stimulated by various water-based activities such as fishing. Two small ponds (less than 100 acres) were chosen for study in southern Maine, one being in a heavily developed shoreline (55% natural land cover via Maine VLMP) and one in a low developed shoreline (96% natural land cover via Maine VLMP). These ponds were chosen to represent differences in nutrient input during storm front events such as rain. 250 ml water samples were taken in both ponds at the main input site (input stream) and in the deepest basin 1 meter from the bottom. Samples were taken during baseline conditions (no significant precipitation within 1 week) and during post storm and storm frontal conditions. Secchi disk, surface water temperature, and depth data at each site were also recorded. Water samples were analyzed via ion chromatography (ICS-2100) for Nitrate, Orthophosphate, Sulfate, and Chloride (ppm). Conductivity data (µS/cm) was recorded for each sample using a Vernier conductivity meter. Conductivity, and nutrient level data will be presented on the poster.

Stephanie Anderson
University of Maine
Determination of Suitable Synthetic Seawater for Ocean Acidification Experiments with marine Bivalves (Mytilus edulis)

Ocean acidification (OA) experiments are becoming more frequent due to increases in CO2 emissions making it a global threat to all marine ecosystems. Some SSMs have been found to have higher levels of total alkalinity than natural seawater. This compromises data collection if an accurate model of the ocean’s carbonate chemistry is required. Providing a SSM that best models carbonate chemistry of natural seawater would give researchers a reliable starting point for their OA experiments. Samples were taken from 9 different SSMs and made to a salinity of 35 ppt and a second set of samples were made following the manufacturer instructions. Total alkalinities of each sample were measured and samples that were made to 35 ppt were compared to samples following manufacturer instructions. Total alkalinity of the samples ranged from 2400 eq/L to 3500 eq/L and Tropic Marin Pro Reef (Tropic Marin®,Wartenberg, Germany) had the closest alkalinity at 2440 eq/L to a natural seawater sample (2160 eq/L). In addition, three SSMs were chosen based on their total alkalinity to maintain blue mussels (Mytilus edulis) and observe possible differences in growth spanning the three SSMs. Disparity among mussel growth rates will show the importance of picking an appropriate SSM for OA experiments.

Haley Batchelder
Saint Joseph’s College
Phosphorus release in Sebago Lake in relation to concentrations of aluminum, iron, and calcium in sediments

Algae blooms due to the release of phosphorus from the lake sediments is a threat to water quality in Sebago Lake. Considering Sebago Lake is the water source for Portland Water District, it is crucial to understand and evaluate the conditions that could potentially put the lake at risk. Three core samples were taken on a transverse across Jordan Bay and divided into 2 cm increments. Five of those divisions from each core were put through the Psenner extraction procedure and analyzed for concentrations of phosphorus, aluminum, iron, and calcium by ICP. The data revealed that the sediment conditions of Sebago Lake have passed the threshold that supposedly promote high release of phosphorus, despite the actual concentrations of phosphorus in the water being at non-threatening levels.

Leia Berube
Saint Joseph’s College
Evaluating Solid Waste Disposal at Saint Joseph’s College and Developing Data-driven Recommendations to make Waste Management more Sustainable and Affordable

Saint Joseph’s College of Maine is committed to reducing its environmental impact by managing solid waste in an efficient and sustainable manner. I am working under the direction of our Campus Waste Management Committee to analyze existing solid waste data to assess both the cost and effectiveness of our different solid waste disposal avenues. I initially have analyzed the last five years data for our different waste streams which include trash, single-sort recycling and compost, where I evaluated both relative tonnage and cost. My initial results show that the majority of our waste is trash, which is also the most of the expensive per unit weight. A trash audit I completed in Spring of 2017 indicated that most of the things being put into the trash can be either be recycled or composted. In addition, I am developing recommendations to modify our existed single-sort recycling protocols that could substantially reduce costs. My next step in my project is to make feasible recommendations to Saint Joseph’s College to improve the waste management systems on campus to be more sustainable, which will lay the groundwork for a formal campus waste management plan.

Maxwell Dorman
University of Maine
Assessing the stakeholder landscape for the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative post-2020 update process

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (also called RGGI) is a market-based effort to reduce carbon emissions from the power sector in nine northeast/mid-atlantic states, including Maine. Periodically, RGGI goes through program reviews to implement new design elements and modify aspects of the program, including lowering the cap on power sector emissions. In 2016 and 2017, the public program review took place over a twenty-two month period in a series of eleven meetings. A variety of interested stakeholders participated in the meetings directly and/or sent in written comments pertaining to the program. Here, we independently and iteratively reviewed the 172 written stakeholder comments to this public process. Based on iterative inductive coding, we developed a typology of stakeholder categories and comment types that were used to develop a model of what the stakeholders are discussing and how they are discussing them in a real, live carbon-policy development process. Analysis reveals insights into how stakeholders align, clash, and collaborate over issues such as: emission reductions, RGGI program design elements, and climate change generally. Mitigation policies at local, regional and international scales are increasingly being discussed in academic and public spheres. However, little of the academic conversation focuses on the public conversation at the direct policy-input level. This is particularly true of RGGI. This research asserts that academic analysis of these public conversation spaces provides important insights into the realities and rationales of how policies are designed, discussed, and viewed at the level of implementation.

John Doyle
Bates College
Carbon Storage in Eelgrass Beds of Casco Bay, Gulf of Maine

Zostera marina, commonly referred to as eelgrass, is a tidal angiosperm found throughout the Gulf of Maine. Eelgrass beds provide a number of ecosystem services such as buffering against coastal erosion, filtering out heavy metals and other pollutants, and sequestering and storing carbon. However, they are vulnerable to disease, climate change, human activities and invasive species. This project seeks to estimate the amount of carbon stored in eelgrass beds in Casco Bay. Three approximately one-meter long cores were collected from eelgrass beds at three sites in Casco Bay using a percussion hammer to penetrate the silty sands. Additionally, cores were collected from Larrabee cove near Machias. Cores were subsampled every 10cm and analyzed for bulk density, total organic carbon, and grain size. The average carbon density from all three sites in Casco Bay is in agreement with values found globally (Fourqurean at al., 2012) and indicates that eelgrass beds are an effective carbon sink for the region. Estimating carbon storage is limited partially by the accuracy of the eelgrass area maps. Eelgrass beds are difficult to image because they are underwater and ephemeral in nature which makes determining area a challenge in calculating carbon stocks for a region. Spatial differences in carbon density and grain size are currently under investigation.

Patricio Gallardo García Freir
College of the Atlantic
Ecohydrology of four Mount Desert Island watersheds

During the summer of 2017, as part of the Wild Acadia Project, four watersheds in the eastern side of Mount Desert Island were characterized by their physical and geomorphic features. We monitored stream stage height, measured discharge, surveyed stream channels, measured water quality parameters, performed pebble counts of the stream beds, mapped the streams using GPS, and sampled for bacteria counts along sections of Stanley Brook, Jordan Stream, Cromwell Brook, and Duck Brook. Field data was compiled into a GIS to produce higher resolution stream network map. We produced stream rating curves for three of the watersheds, applicable for future nutrient and sediment load studies. Near the mouth of Duck Brook, we surveyed the geometry of stream channel and associated terraces in order to investigate the erosion induced by the Route 3 culvert. These data can be utilized by multiple local and regional stakeholders interested in resource management, restoration, conservation, and education.

Caleb Gravel
Saint Joseph’s College
Determining the Success of a Rainbow Smelt (Osmerus mordax) Stocking Program by Comparing Haplotypes

A stocking program for rainbow smelt (Osmerus mordax) was carried out between 2002 and 2006 to augment the declining population in Sebago Lake, Maine. Anadromous smelt were used to stock the lake with the hopes that they would contribute to the original landlocked population. The objective of this study was to assess whether the anadromous smelt became established in Sebago Lake 10 years after the program ended. There is a variation, or genetic mark, in the ND5 mitochondrial gene which differentiates the landlocked and anadromous smelt. The landlocked smelt ND5 gene sequence contains a restriction site; whereas, the anadromous smelt ND5 sequence does not. We received a sample of 60 smelt from Quimby Brook, used a piece of muscle tissue to extract mitochondrial DNA, amplified a 249 bp section of the ND5 gene, and used a restriction enzyme to cut the amplified region. Out of the 60 smelt, 15 were haplotype A (anadromous) resulting in a frequency of 25%. The genetic diversity was 38%. Based on the data, the generation time of smelt, and their lifespan, we concluded that it is very likely the anadromous smelt have become established in Sebago Lake.

Dacota Griffin
Bates College
The relationship between substrate characteristics and Japanese knotweed invasion along the Saco River, Maine and New Hampshire

Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica), an aggressive invasive plant, spreads via several mechanisms making it hard to control. Currently, little is known about Japanese knotweed invasion along river systems, what characteristics make invasion more likely at a site, and how knotweed changes riparian habitat. A total of 46 soil samples from both invaded and uninvaded sites (32 total locations) along the Saco River in Maine and New Hampshire were examined to see whether physical and chemical characteristics were similar among knotweed-invaded sites. The majority of sites were dominated by medium-grained sand, but overall textures ranged from gravel- to mud-dominated, and there were no differences in the soil texture at invaded and uninvaded sites. Similarly, knotweed has invaded sites with shallower (0-10%) and steeper (10-20%) slopes in multiple aspect directions with no slope or aspect having been preferentially invaded. Japanese knotweed has invaded sites with a wide variety of overstory vegetation, but invasions were most common at sites that have limited shade qualities or with mainly deciduous trees. In contrast to the physical properties, biological and chemical characteristics did differ inside and outside invaded sites. Inside patches, the percent carbon and nitrogen decreased, while 𝛿13C became more positive with increasing soil pH; these trends were not observed outside of the invaded patches. Overall, it appeared that Japanese knotweed invasion is possible in a wide variety of physical habitats and has no clear impact on the physical characteristics of sites but that it may alter the biological and chemical properties of sites.

Lars Hammer
University of New England
Using telemetry to monitor movements and habitat use of juvenile winter flounder in a Southern Maine estuary

Winter flounder (Pseudopleuronectes americanus) were once a species of considerable commercial and recreational importance within the Gulf of Maine (GOM). However, heavy fishing pressure and habitat destruction over the past 20 years have caused winter flounder stocks to drastically decline. In order to promote the recovery of GOM flounder populations, critical habitat must be protected and studied. The Saco River Estuary (SRE) is an established nursery ground and habitat for over 60 marine, diadromous, and freshwater fish species, including winter flounder. In addition, data from sampling events (2015-2016) suggest that the SRE also serves a vital role for juvenile winter flounder. However, a separation of habitat preference based on year class appears to be occurring, with young of the year and juveniles preferring Freddy beach and the adults preferring Biddeford Pool. In order to better understand these observations and the importance of the SRE to the species, 17 juvenile winter flounder (116-179mm) were tagged with Vemco V7-2x acoustic transmitters in July. These flounder were caught in Biddeford Pool and subsequently released behind the marine science center. The movements of these flounder were monitored using both passive and active acoustic receivers until October of 2017. Preliminary tracking data suggests that juveniles are utilizing the full length of the unobstructed river, with three individuals (121.4, 125.8, and 146mm) being detected near the Cataract Dam in Saco. Furthermore another five individuals (125.2, 146, 146.2, 152.4 and 170mm) were detected outside of the river in Biddeford Pool. The other 9 (129mm average TL) flounder however do not appear to have moved far from the release site. Further analysis hopes to uncover additional information about flounder movement and habitat usage in the Saco.

Ericka Hutchinson
University of Southern Maine
Effects of Alewife Predation on Zooplankton Communities in Maine Lakes

Alewife are an anadromous fish species that feed on microscopic organisms called zooplankton. Predation by alewives on large zooplankton has been shown to influence zooplankton communities and primary producer biomass, as the large zooplankton feed on algae and phytoplankton. The absence of larger herbivorous zooplankton could result in an abundance of phytoplankton and possibly lead to nuisance algal blooms. Alternatively, other studies have argued that the presence of alewives influence the bottom-up control of phytoplankton by increasing nutrient loading via import of marine-derived nutrients or decreasing nutrient loading via export of freshwater-derived nutrients. In order to examine the relative influence on these two mechanisms, it is important to have a good understanding of changes in phytoplankton and zooplankton communities in addition to nutrients and chlorophyll-a in lakes with and without Alewife populations.

In this research we present preliminary findings on zooplankton communities in early summer, mid-summer and fall in Cobbossee Lake (no alewife), Pleasant Pond (land-locked alewife), China Lake (low levels of stocked sea-run alewife), and Highland Lake (high levels of sea-run alewife). While these results are preliminary in nature, our hope is that the data will meaningfully contribute to the body of knowledge of this topic.

Ashley Kulesza
Bates College
Assessing the Amount of Carbon Stored in Maine Salt Marshes

This project uses geochemical analyses of sediment cores from various sources and GIS to estimate the amount of carbon stored in Maine tidal salt marshes. Sedimentary carbon content values of Maine salt marsh sediments were compiled from dissertations, theses and previously published papers and mapped using GIS. Areas where few previous datasets exist were identified, and targeted for coring and carbon density analysis for this study. The goal was to have carbon density data from three to five sites from each of the four Maine coastal compartments, defined by (Kelley et al,. 1987). Between one and five sediment cores were taken at each targeted marsh site. Cores were subsampled every 10 cm for bulk density and carbon content. The EA-C-IRMS in the Environmental Geochemistry Laboratory at Bates College was used to determine % carbon values. The average preliminary carbon density values for each coastal compartment over the upper 1m are as follows: The Arcuate Embayment 0.041 +/- 0.01 gC/cm3, the Island-Bay Complex 0.048 +/- 0.01 gC/cm3, and the Indented Shoreline 0.0343 +/-0.001 gC/cm3 . The average carbon density values were determined for each coastal compartment and multiplied by the surface area of salt marshes. Comparisons of carbon stocks among the different coastal compartments are made, as will estimates for total carbon stored in Maine salt marshes.

Peter Lajeunesse and Christian Powell
University of Maine
Stories of The Stillwater; A Liquid Perspective

As communities and stakeholders negotiate about water and sustainability issues in Maine, it is important to examine how and why people identify with these environments. The purpose of our research project was to produce a video documentary about different perspectives of the Stillwater River in Orono, ME. As an artistic and qualitative project focused on human dimensions of water quality and sustainability, we conducted multiple interviews with students and faculty at the University of Maine and local business owners to better understand how they relate to and are affected by the Stillwater. By attending to and showcasing the various stories that people tell about the river, our project addresses how people perceive the history, value, and quality of this body of water in different ways. We discovered possible tensions between these different perspectives, which are important to the people who live, work, and vacation here. In our documentary, we highlight how some envision the river as a historical landmark that can be celebrated and enjoyed today, while others see it only as an economic resource that drives business in the Orono area, but others view it as a polluted body of water that is unsafe for human activity and in need of restoration. We included artistic footage along with these interviews to help give voice to the untold aspects of the river. By exploring these stories about water quality and sustainable practices, our documentary project ultimately reveals how communities in Orono are currently negotiating the importance of the Stillwater.


Michaela Murray and Hannah Herrick 
University of Maine
Applying Engaged Research Methods to Expand Knowledge of Maine’s Changing Foodscape

Farm to Institution (FTI) represents an alternative food system that holds the capacity to address some of the challenges associated with Maine’s changing foodscape including food access, resilience to climate change, and financial security for farmers. By providing opportunities to increase local food procurement in Maine communities through linking farmers and large institutional purchasers, FTI supply chains can potentially promote social, economic, and environmental sustainability throughout the state. Our collaborating stakeholder group, Maine Farm to Institution (MEFTI), has gathered extensive data important to this effort, however this data is not easily accessible or compiled in a way to best benefit Maine food producers and buyers. For this project, we have adopted a Knowledge-to-Action (K-A) framework to take MEFTI’s data and compile it into a more accessible format, such as visuals and reports that can be more easily accessed and understood by a wider audience. This student-stakeholder research relationship ensures that research is not only useful to academics, but also to groups and individuals that are vested in creating sustainable food systems. By implementing this student-led engaged research process, knowledge of Farm to Institution markets can be more widely understood across the state, conceivably creating a stronger alternative food system that cooperates with the changing foodscape of Maine.

Shantel Neptune
University of Maine
Penobscot Damming — Flooded Corridors and the Inundation of a Nation

Two centuries of dam construction and river channel modification have significantly altered the ecological and cultural resilience of riparian corridors in the Penobscot River. Many dams on the Penobscot River have long outlived their original purpose and take away from the rich history and deep cultural and spiritual significance of its people. We explore the impact of flooded water bodies formed from damming the Penobscot River system, by measuring the areal extent of flooding, using lake bathymetry and dam height data provided by the State of Maine. Changes to riparian corridor conditions were interpreted through examination of river valley side slopes and land cover along the perimeters of dammed reservoirs, and through interviews with members of the Penobscot Nation with intimate and historic knowledge of the river.

Results suggest damming in the Penobscot River watershed increased the cumulative lake and pond surface area by at least 52 km2, increasing lake area by 14% . Net changes to the surface area depend on local valley morphometry and dam height. For example: dams built in wide, shallow areas have a greater impact than dams built in steep, narrow valleys. Not only did the flooding by dams affect surrounding ecosystems, but also people who used the land and water for sustenance through harvesting sea-run fish such as alewives and Atlantic salmon and medicinal plants. To better understand how dams have specifically impacted indigenous communities, future research should focus on how the inundated areas were used and what ecosystems were lost or changed by flooding.


Kaitlyn Raffier
University of Maine
Using Mixed-Method Media Discourse Content Analysis to Inform Multi Criteria Decision Analysis about Dams

Multi Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) is a framework for balancing various decision criteria (e.g., cost, environmental effects, efficiency) and alternatives (e.g. status quo, change A B, C). Decision criteria influence the appeal of various decision alternatives, and it is important to weigh these criteria using stakeholder preferences to determine appropriate alternatives for site-specific environmental decision-making situations. Dams in Maine provide a complex, highly variable decision-making context so we are using MCDA to inform decision making. To identify criteria and alternatives for our MCDA study, we used a systematically random sampled corpus of 148 articles about dams and dam removal from 37 national U.S. and regional New England newspapers reporting between 1987 and 2016. We developed a quantitative content analysis schema as the basis for subsequent qualitative content analysis. This innovative mixed-method approach to news media analysis allows us to craft an MCDA design based on past dam decisions that is meaningful to decision makers. This work advances the interdisciplinary research of our collaborators on the New England Sustainability Consortium (NEST) Future of Dams project who are incorporating our MCDA model within integrated participatory decision-making workshops about dams in Maine.

Austin Steward
University of Maine
Arsenic Remediation in Maine Drinking Water

Arsenic (As), a metalloid, is one of the most prominent toxins in Maine drinking water. There are approximately 86,500 Maine citizens exposed to water containing arsenic over the maximum contamination level; causing adverse effects including nausea, multiple cancers, and a reduction of full scale IQ and executive function. In drinking water, arsenic arises both by the natural leaching from bedrock and from the use of chemicals such as pesticides, embalming fluids, and wood preservatives. There are many known arsenic water remediation techniques but finding a method compatible for multiple arsenic isotopes is challenging. In this work, we test the low-energy and low-cost technique coupling of ferric chloride pre-treatment coagulation with liquid gated membrane filtration. We find that complexes are formed under these conditions, and can be filtered out of the water. We were additionally able to determine the size of these particles using dynamic light scattering; and pH changes during pre-treatment steps. The future goals of these experiments is to optimize conditions of the liquid gated membrane to reduce the effective pore size; such that various coagulants could be utilized in a low-cost, self-cleaning system. These experiments lay the groundwork for continued arsenic remediation of Maine drinking water using membrane filtration.

Hailey J. Wegner
University of Maine at Machias
Phytoplankton monitoring and comparisons of species abundance from 2014 to 2017 in Downeast Maine

Toxin producing phytoplankton species have been monitored by the Maine Department of Marine Resources since 1996. Efforts have focused on detecting blooms of Alexandrium, Dinophysis spp., Prorocentrum lima, and Pseudo-nitzschia spp. These organisms have the potential to produce Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning, Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning, and Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning, respectively.

Students at the University of Maine at Machias have monitored phytoplankton populations in Downeast Maine for over twenty years. In the last three years, we have focused on identifying all area species and on monitoring fluctuations in toxic phytoplankton populations. Collection and screening procedures have followed established DMR protocols.

We observed increasing community diversity in the Downeast Region from 2014 to 2017. We found increased levels and occurrences of toxic phytoplankton, such as Alexandrium and Pseudo-nitzschia. These toxin producing organisms reached the threshold alert levels more often per month in 2017 compared to 2014, 2015, and 2016 in multiple locations in Downeast Maine. Several previously undetected species were identified in summer 2017. Newly detected phytoplankton include Entomneis ornata, several Protoperidinium species, Actinoptychus senarius, Diploneis finnica, Dinophysis fortii, and Tabellaria flocculosa. Curiously, there were a few incidents in which freshwater species were found at our marine study sites.

Benjamin Wilson
Bates College
Determining the Economic Impacts of the Removal of the Veazie and Great Works Dams: A Hedonic Pricing Analysis

In this paper, we examine how willingness to pay (WTP) for proximity to the Penobscot River in Maine (USA) changes with the removal of the Great Works and Veazie Dams in 2012 and 2013, respectively. Utilizing home sales data from 2009 to 2016, we use a form of a hedonic pricing model, a difference-in-difference model, to estimate how WTP for proximity to the Penobscot changed after the two dams were removed. We find that both pre and post dam removal close proximity to the Penobscot negatively affects home prices, but that impact is decreased by 42% after the dams were removed. While these results are informative, we speculate that the effects will become more drastic as the Penobscot benefits from no longer having these two impoundments in place for the first time in over 175 years.

Graduate Poster Winners and Abstracts

Only the presenting student author(s) is listed.

University of Maine
Upland Microtopography and Implications to Surface Water Detention in Maine

A notable characteristic of Maine’s forested landscape is the microtopography caused by a combination of factors related to surficial geology and tree fall. These features are often on the scale of single meters wide and decimeters to a meter in depth, appearing as “puddles” in the landscape during intense or high magnitude precipitation events. The surface water detention provided by the depressions can be substantial at the scale of a watershed and measurably affect runoff rates in low order streams. Generalized ranges for surface water storage capacity have been summarized in textbooks for varied landscape conditions, but little is known about how microtopography and related detention varies in Maine’s dominant physiographic settings defined by slope, surficial geology, and land cover conditions. With the increasing availability of high resolution elevation data, it has become possible to remotely evaluate the extent of these depressions and quantify the total upland storage capacity they may represent.

In this poster we describe and quantify microtopography in several Maine settings using measurements of hillslope terrain ruggedness and depression volume. We then relate the distribution of microtopography to variations in landform and land use conditions. The implications of spatial and temporal patterns of storage to runoff generation and habitat are then considered. For our analysis, we use LiDAR data in several Maine watersheds:  Webhannet River in Wells; Darling Marine Center campus in Walpole; two streams on Marsh Island in Orono; Cromwell Brook on Mount Desert Island; and our sole inland watershed on Lead Mountain in East Hancock.

HONORABLE MENTION: Jacquelynn F. Miller
University of Maine
Sustainability and Archaeology: Making Rapid Cultural Resource Management Decisions Using Ground-Penetrating Radar

Over 2000 aboriginal shell middens are located on the Maine coast. These archaeological sites are composed of centimeters to meters of clam and/or oyster shells, other faunal remains, and artifacts. Maine middens archive over 4000 years of human coastal adaptation and paleoenvironmental data, but virtually all of these sites are eroding as a result of climate-driven sea-level rise and increased freeze-thaw cycles associated with changing weather patterns. Some sites are already gone. Data recovery at middens traditionally involves time and labor-intensive archaeological techniques that limit the number of sites that can be examined. This research demonstrates the utility of using ground-penetrating radar (GPR) as a rapid, cost-effective, and noninvasive tool to provide information for cultural resource management decisions, and is illustrated by our work at a site in the Damariscotta area. GPR data were collected, processed, and interpreted using limited, existing archaeological data as ground-truth. Shell-rich layers and interlayered soil horizons were identified, as well as the nature and morphology of underlying material. The interpreted data was then used to create an isopach map showing the areal extent and thickness of the shell midden. While unable to produce the detailed information typical of an archaeological excavation, a GPR survey provides a powerful tool for shell midden analysis. GPR data allow identification of site boundaries and features of interest, for cultural resource management decisions with substantially less field-related time and labor as compared to traditional methods.

Olga A. Bredikhina
University of Maine
Preferences for Proximity to Aquaculture: A Combined Revealed and Stated Preference Approach

Creating sustainable aquaculture infrastructure in the United States is important: currently, the country faces a large seafood trade deficit in part due to importing 91% of its seafood. However, with around 40% of Americans living in counties directly on the shoreline, public support for domestic aquaculture may be key to the expansion of the industry. Although technological advances in the past decades have allowed to make aquaculture operations more sustainable, the industry often faces negative public opinion in part due to the potential for diminished view scape and generation of negative environmental effects (e.g. water pollution, smell and noise). This paper employs a combined stated and revealed preference approach to examine citizens’ choices in valuation of household proximity to aquaculture lease sites. In the study, citizens’ revealed preferences are observed through real-world housing purchasing choices recorded in a dataset of transactions data for single-family homes sold in coastal Maine between 2012 and 2014. The stated preferences are elicited through a mail survey to these same households in 2018. The combined approach will allow for analysis of choice across time and the comparison of citizens’ hypothetical and revealed preferences with regards to the proximity to aquaculture. Combining the two valuation approaches will provide additional information about the factors affecting citizens’ acceptance of aquaculture operations in their communities. This may be especially useful for industry stakeholders and policy-makers that work to raise public support for aquaculture operations.

Avery Cole and Amy Bainbridge
University of Maine
Examining Impacts of Coastal Resident Perceptions on Aquaculture Siting Choices

Global aquaculture production has experienced rapid growth over the last decade, prompting the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to announce that production now matches wild harvest in volume produced in 2016. This growth is due largely to an increasing global population coupled with diminishing fisheries potential, both of which emphasize the demand for sustainable ocean food production. Despite the industry’s recent expansion, negative public perception remains a serious impediment to future growth. This poster explores two areas of concern for stakeholders and policymakers when considering aquaculture siting choices. First, the aesthetics of aquaculture has become a divisive issue between coastal homeowners and marine aquaculture operators. The Boolean viewshed model paired with a hedonic pricing framework is used to estimate the impact of sight value on coastal homes in Maine. Second, a pure-characteristics equilibrium-sorting model is employed to examine the potential impacts of large-scale aquaculture development on coastal housing values. To these ends, we utilize data on Maine coastal home sales between 2012 and 2014 in conjunction with aquaculture siting data provided by Maine’s Department of Marine Resources. Preliminary results suggest that aquaculture visibility can have wide-reaching effects on residential property prices. Equilibrium sorting results reveal several compelling challenges that face coastal resource managers but highlight the potential benefits of collaboration in aquaculture siting choices between coastal resource users with diverse interests. These results may inform policymakers and stakeholders of social costs related to future site selection for sustainable marine aquaculture.

Melissa E. Flye
University of Maine
Getting Over the Dam: Overcoming Institutional Barriers to the Recovery of Atlantic Salmon by Navigating the Social-Science/Policy Interface

The Atlantic salmon population in Maine remains critically low despite extensive hatchery supplementation and habitat improvement efforts over the past four decades. In 2000 the Gulf of Maine Distinct Population Segment (DPS) was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) with listing authority jointly shared by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Because, regulators and managers from Federal, State, and Penobscot Nation context operate with independent authorities, recovery decisions depend upon effective communication and coordination. From 1980 to 2005 management and regulatory bodies, non-profit organizations, and citizens met as a single group, the Maine Technical Advisory Committee (TAC). The dissolution of TAC in 2005 resulted in reduced coordination across authorities until 2011 when the Atlantic Salmon Recovery Framework (ASRF) was formed. This alternative structure was built on five areas: stock assessment, marine/estuarine survival, connectivity, genetic diversity, and freshwater survival. The ASRF is both a management framework rooted in species ecology and a governance structure which emphasizes coordination and collaboration. We intend to assess the social factors of this governance system using a mixed methods case study approach involving i) semi-structured interviews, ii) communication network analysis, and iii) document analysis. We contend that an evaluation of the interactions among entities in the face of uncertainty may inform the processes by which recovery policies and actions are implemented. Specifically, we hope to characterize institutional barriers and factors that currently impact Atlantic salmon recovery decision making in Maine.

Parker Gassett
University of Maine
Northeast Citizen Science for Coastal Acidification

A series of regional workshops and webinars aim to equip citizen science organizations in the Northeast with tools and resources to collectively investigate coastal acidification. While it remains true that the entirety of oceans are becoming more acidic – ocean acidification – through anthropogenic processes, a new understanding of coastal marine systems points to terrestrial drivers of coastal acidification, and the ability of marine vegetation and improved nutrient management to mitigate vulnerability to change at the local level. Community water monitoring programs and citizen science pedagogies offer a path forward for fine scale research of coastal acidification conditions as well as tractable steps to improve coastal governance priorities in consideration of marine chemistry change. Our work, through support from the NOAA Ocean Acidification Program Office, aims to expand a collaborative framework for regional marine monitoring to include citizen science.

Megan C. Hess
University of Maine
The Dragonfly Mercury Project: How is mercury accumulation in dragonfly tissues influenced by biology?

Mercury (Hg) is a globally distributed contaminant that biomagnifies through food webs and is highly toxic to fish, wildlife, and people. As a result of its widespread distribution and health risks, Hg is a serious concern in many environments, even protected areas such as national parks in the US, including Acadia National Park. The Dragonfly Mercury Project (DMP) enlists park staff or community partners to lead teams of citizen scientists in collection of dragonfly nymphs for Hg analysis in national parks, providing data for national-scale assessment of this neurotoxic pollutant. Because dragonfly nymphs are being used as a biosentinel of mercury risk in ecosystems it is important to examine how the biology of these invertebrates can influence the accumulation of Hg reported in their tissues. Across 77 parks participating in the DMP, 93% of parks included dragonflies from at least two families and 43% had four or more families. Here we present a comparison of Hg concentrations among families collected in the DMP project combined with patterns observed in the literature that relate Hg to aspects of dragonfly biology. We assessed 21 papers that determine Hg in dragonflies and found that only four assessed the importance of considering distinct families when determining Hg concentrations. The results of this review will provide a comprehensive analysis of the state of knowledge and data gaps in our understanding on how biology and life-history affect interpretation of spatial and temporal patterns of Hg in these ubiquitous and charismatic biosentinels.

Raymond C. Kahler III
University of Maine
Temporal and Chemical Effects on the Microbial Community and Sulfide Oxidation Potential in a Naturally Acidic Maine Stream

Acid rock drainage (ARD) occurs when sulfide minerals oxidize thorough interaction with water, releasing hydrogen ions. This process can be accelerated by the presence of microbes and is increased by mining. Maine currently does not allow metal mining and recent legislation sought to modify these restrictions. Stream flow is primarily dominated by groundwater exchange, influencing stream chemistry from interactions with the surrounding bedrock. Runoff can dominate flow, affecting stream chemistry and the local microbial community through dilution. Little work has addressed these biogeochemical interactions in streams located near unmined sulfide deposits in New England. We hypothesized that microbial communities sampled during runoff dominated periods would have less sulfide oxidation potential and that these communities will structurally evolve to contain iron and sulfur oxidizing metal resistant acidophiles. We conducted a series of five-week batch reactor experiments using microorganism-containing water sampled from the naturally acidic Blood Brook. We found no significant differences between abiotic and biotic sulfate concentration changes, indicating that there was no microbial influence on pyrite oxidation. Microbial community analyses revealed limited presence of sulfide oxidizers. The genera Acidocella and Acidisoma dominated, which exhibit enhanced growth in high concentrations of Al. The varying levels of Al in experiments controlled the development of the experimental microbial community, while in the field Al levels are controlled by flow source. We conclude that Blood Brook does not have reduced sulfide oxidation potential during points where flow is runoff dominated, and that the microbial community is dependent on Al concentrations during acid producing conditions.

Nicholas Keeney
University of Maine
Predictive Siting for Socioecological Aquaculture Simulations

Maine’s shellfish farming industry is composed of owner-operated culture sites for mussels, oysters, and clams. Leasing is decentralized and reactive, driven by entrepreneurial selection that incorporates local knowledge of existing sites and water quality. Landings and lease applications have increased in the last few years, in excess of the sustained growth needed to meet 2020 NOAA benchmarks. Applications for limited-purpose aquaculture licenses in particular have drawn criticism as an abuse of their supposedly exploratory nature. Unlike larger leases, licenses do not require a public hearing, and impose a restrictive buffer zone. Their production footprint is therefore relatively large, and fractures ocean space is a way that could exclude new entrants. I use existing sites, bathymetry, and satellite-derived suitability data to train statistical models that predict where new leases will be located. I also use license applications, and the available growing area, to assess the time that it will take at current application rates to fill jurisdictions within the Damariscotta River. Preliminary results indicate that traditional growing areas could be reaching farm capacity in the next few years. Predicted locations are used to parameterize oyster growth models, by coupling methods for quantized meshes. This is a component of a larger system of modeling and visualization software being developed to assess biogeochemical implications of industry and smallholder expansion.

Mackenzie Mazur
University of Maine
Learning how Conservation and Sustainability are Connected from Maine Lobstermen

Fishermen’s perceptions of conservation are important when considering sustainability in fisheries management. Maine lobstermen are known for their conservation ethic. However, there have been concerns that Maine lobstermen have not been complying with conservation measures as much in recent years. In this study, we conducted 30 oral histories with lobstermen to learn about perceptions of conservation and sustainability. We found mixed opinions on conservation measures for different reasons. Lobstermen report concern regarding the industry’s conservation ethic. Nevertheless, despite the mixed perspectives of conservation, most lobstermen interviewed believe the industry is sustainable. We further analyzed the interviews to find why the industry is considered sustainable despite a possible loss of conservation ethic. Some lobstermen believe the changes in the environment have contributed to the industry’s sustainability. We also explore possible effects of these perceptions on fishing behavior and the implications for the future of the lobster fishery, as different levels of conservation ethic can affect compliance rates for conservation measures.

 Greg McDonald
University of Maine
Controls on Phosphorus Export from an Agricultural Watershed: Amsden Brook, Fort Fairfield, Maine USA

Agricultural practices contribute to excess loading of phosphorus (P) in surface waters, promoting accelerated eutrophication. This study explores the sources and mechanism(s) of P mobilization within the Amsden Brook watershed, Fort Fairfield, Maine. Amsden Brook is a second order stream that flows southwest to the Aroostook River, draining a dominantly agricultural watershed. Calcareous till overlies calcareous siltstone bedrock. Recharge to the stream is largely from spring water issuing from the till-bedrock interface.

We analyzed stream sediment, stream water, emerging groundwater, and soil samples to characterize the P concentrations in the watershed. Waters were monitored monthly during the 2017 snow-free period for temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, P, strong acid anions, strong base cations, DOC, Al, Fe, and Mn. P speciation within soil and sediment samples was determined by sequential fractionations. Emerging groundwater was under-saturated by 30-40% with respect to O2, with pH=7.2, T=7.0°C, and P=2.4 – 5.0 µg/L. Groundwater PCO2 was 35´ ambient PCO2. CO2 degassing led to a significant increase in pH downstream (pH=8.4), with dissolved P concentrations increasing from 5.0 to 41.0 ug/L.

Controlled laboratory experiments with homogenized Amsden Brook sediment showed a reduction in P adsorption capacity, and an increase in native P desorption with increase in solution pH from emerging groundwater, 7.25 (+/- 0.03), to degassed surface waters, 8.46 (+/- 0.02). These data allow us to identify the pH dependent desorption from P-laden sediment as the source of much of the dissolved P in Amsden Brook, under base flow conditions.


Matthew A. Moyet
University of Maine
The Role of Copper (II) Ions in Modified Bismuth Oxychlorides for the Photodegradation of the Herbicide Atrazine

Current methods of recycling drinking water are ineffective at removing harmful contaminants such as herbicides and pharmaceuticals. Photocatalytic compounds offer a solution by allowing treatment facilities to operate more efficiently at lower operating costs. Photocatalysis is a process that uses photons to produce reactive chemical species which degrade harmful organic compounds. We have focused our research on the use of photocatalytic bismuth oxyhalides in the photodegradation of the herbicide atrazine. Atrazine is a persistent organic compounds (POCs), known for its long lifetime in the environment. Due to the frequent use of atrazine coupled with its chemical stability, atrazine exposure has become an environmental and public health concern. Numerous health effects have been reported from atrazine exposure including cancer, birth defects, and endocrine system disruption, which is detrimental to both urban and rural communities. The goal of this study explores the use of bismuth oxyhalide modified with copper (II) ions and their role in the photodegradation process. This cheap and relatively abundant material can increase the efficiency of degradation by trapping excited state electrons. As these excited state electrons are responsible for the photocatalytic behavior and permit the degradation of atrazine. Findings from this research can be used to improve sustainable water treatments nationwide as well as provide a basis for the design and fabrication of advanced photocatalysts.

Ian Nesbitt
University of Maine
Sedimentary architecture of Maine lakes derived with ground-penetrating radar

Sedimentation has implications for Maine’s abundant lake and river systems. However, these influences are poorly understood in most watersheds. Existing studies use sediment cores which are point measurements to estimate sedimentation rate in lakes or ponds. These methods, while informative for paleoclimate study, are not sufficient for other analyses such as overall sediment flux. We use ground-penetrating radar (GPR) to understand spatial variation in sediment thickness and stratigraphic sequencing. This study aims to quantify sediment accumulation volumes since Holocene deglaciation in Maine. Results suggest that Holocene storm turbidites can exhibit significant control on the hypsometry of basins deeper than 10m, and that marine transgression deposits may be evident in geophysical profiles of lakes inundated by the ocean during the retreat of the Laurentide Ice Sheet. Current efforts are focused on assessing whether the installation of dams have altered sediment flux and reworking in lake basins, however results are still inconclusive. This study also shows that knowledge of sedimentary architecture of a basin is critical for sediment core site selection.

Andrew Newcomb
University of Maine
Dams and Hydrologic Regime in the Penobscot River: A reappraisal based on historical records and hydrologic modeling

The Penobscot River Watershed has a long history of hydrologic alteration by humans. Dams, and the logging/mill industries that built them, have caused large changes to land use and surface water storage throughout the watershed. These modifications can influence the runoff and routing processes within the watershed, changing the timing and magnitude of downstream flows. Quantifying these changes to hydrologic regime, in the context of varied dam management, is our goal. We ask 1) how have dam management decisions altered hydrologic regime throughout the history of this watershed, 2) what changes in watershed characteristics can be identified through comparison of simulated and measured discharge.

We use three approaches to address these questions. First, we use hydrologic time-series to examine historical changes in the watershed by simulating flow regime with a hydrologic model, and then comparing simulated and measured discharge over a rolling time-window. Periods when the simulation differs from measurements suggest a change in watershed characteristics, potentially caused by dams or land-use change, that is not represented in the model. Second, we compare hydrologic regimes across different periods in watershed history. This analysis utilizes USGS discharge measurements to examine changes in flow regime following changes in land and river use. Third, we take these measured and simulated discharges and use them to estimate stream power, river velocity, river depth, and other river conditions. These analyses inform the relationship between flow regime and dams in the Penobscot Watershed, and can provide new insight into trade-offs associated with dam management decisions.

Brian M. Preziosi
University of Maine
A Natural Method for Manipulating the Carbonate Chemistry of Marine Sediment Pore-Water

The spread of low-pH sediments (also known as dead muds) has brought about the need for laboratory studies involving acidified sediment. Bubbling with CO2 to lower the sediment pH is traditionally used to acidify the sediment; however, allowing the native sediment microorganisms to do the acidification is a more natural approach. To this end, the pH of sediment taken from Beals Island, ME, was monitored in 12 sediment beds distributed evenly among 6 20-gallon aquaria containing artificial sea water for 74 days. Half of these were kept at 6.5 C while the other half were kept at 24 C. Each sediment bed had a depth of about 15 cm and had pore-water samples taken via syringe at the top, middle and bottom of the sediment column every 2-3 days. Razor clam shell hash was applied to half of these sediment beds for 41 days. The results show surface sediment pore-water pH can be kept at values below (~6.0) or close to (~7.0) those measured in the field for month-long periods by manipulating the amount of time, heat, and razor clam shell hash added to the sediment. This can be achieved while keeping the pH of the overlying water at ~8.0. This sediment acidification method will allow researchers to carry out laboratory experiments that follow the conditions of the natural environment without the added expense of CO2 gas. The accompanying total alkalinity data is currently being analyzed so the aragonite and calcite saturation states for all these measurements can be calculated.

Tyler Quiring
University of Maine
Recomposing Collaborative Dam Decision Making: A Reciprocal Case Study of the Penobscot River Restoration Project

For millennia, the Penobscot River has shaped landscapes and supported life. Over the last century, dams have used this river to provide new forms of power and stability while constraining others. As physical barriers, dams have altered water flows, fish passage, and diverse cultural practices. In response, from 1999 to 2016 a number of groups undertook a process of negotiation, fundraising, public participation, engineering, construction, policymaking, and scientific monitoring called the Penobscot River Restoration Project intended to bring the river closer to its historical state. The project led to the modification or decommissioning of 2 dams and the removal of 2 others, and is often described as a success in terms of target outcomes including the return of key species and optimization of hydroelectricity. Yet what leadership and collaborative capacities were required to make this project happen, and could something like it happen again? To explore these questions, we are conducting a reciprocal case study of the project drawing on semi-structured interviews, more than 500 news articles, and archived public documents. Our analysis has revealed multiple stories and meanings made of the project, leading us to additional questions including: How did diverse perspectives, values, and ownership claims matter for the collaboration? How have power and equity conditioned the possibilities for life on this river? What lessons could be applied to future dam decision contexts? We describe how reciprocation requires open-ended engagement among project participants to explore these questions and craft action that addresses needs and future opportunities in the watershed.

Nick Richmond
University of Maine
Post-dam removal river hydraulics and the influence of derelict industrial logging infrastructure on modern aquatic habitat conditions

Following the 2013 removal of the Veazie Dam in the lower Penobscot River, the reappearance of remnant logging structures (“boom islands”) in the former dam impoundment raises questions about what should be done, if anything, with the derelict structures. Knowledge about the impacts of the boom islands on federally-protected diadromous fish species will help to inform decision-making efforts about dam removal projects involving remnant infrastructure. Detailed knowledge of the water flow velocity conditions around boom islands is central to assessing the impact of logging industry infrastructure on fish habitat, but there are challenges associated with direct measurements and numerical approaches to predicting their hydraulic effects. While detailed velocity measurements are possible with Acoustic Doppler Velocimetry, collecting measurements over a range of flow conditions in large rivers reaches is impractical. Traditional approaches to numerical modeling of river hydraulics are able to perform 1D and 2D simulations in reach-scale domains, but they are unable to capture the effects of the boom islands due to constraints on dimensionality and resolution. Three-dimensional (3D) computational fluid dynamics (CFD) solutions accelerated by High-Performance Computing make it possible to capture the 3D effects of the boom islands on river velocity at the scale of the boom island structures. By using 3D velocity measurements with an Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP) to augment and constrain 3D CFD solutions calculated using Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics (SPH), we will capture detailed information about flow kinematics in the Penobscot River to inform decision-making efforts related to aquatic habitat restoration.

Kirstie Ruppert
University of Maine
To Like Giraffe & Hunt Them Too: Characterizing poaching as a threat to giraffe in northern Kenya

Giraffe are icons of Africa, but given their high profile, knowledge about giraffe is surprisingly limited. Population estimates across the continent suggest that giraffe numbers have fallen by about 40% in the last few decades, prompting a reassessment in 2016 by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) that moved their status from “Least Concern” to “Vulnerable.” This rapid decline is mainly thought to be due to habitat loss and fragmentation, land degradation, and poaching. There is yet to be any published literature on the social aspects of giraffe conservation and associated threats, which points to the urgent need for social science to inform the many growing conservation efforts. This research proposes the first ever quantitative study on the human dimensions of giraffe conservation. Project objectives are to: a) establish baseline measurements of community knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs around human-giraffe interactions, b) quantify local levels and identify areas of giraffe part and product usage in and around two conservancies, c) investigate how estimates of poaching behavior differ between three questioning techniques, and d) integrate human dimensions data with giraffe movement patterns to inform conservancy management. Preliminary findings suggest a disconnect between extremely positive attitudes towards giraffe and poaching related behaviors, estimated as prevalent in approximately 30% of communities sampled. This research is relevant to Kenya’s sustainable development goals, which seek to improve human well-being while protecting wildlife as a key natural resource.

Hannah Slattery
Bates College
Impervious Surface Cover: Impact on Sedimentation Rate and Dissolved Oxygen in the Hart Brook Watershed Lewiston, Maine

As cities across the United States have urbanized, the amount of impervious surface (pavements, rooftops, cement, etc.) has risen steeply. Increases in imperviousness impact natural hydrologic processes in a watershed and can lead to a decrease in water quality (high sediment loads and low dissolved oxygen levels). In Lewiston, Maine, the Hart Brook watershed has 22% impervious surface cover (ISC) and is classified as an urban impaired watershed due to dissolved oxygen levels below 75% saturation and excessive nutrient deposition. Wastewater infrastructure has been surveyed and repaired in some locations, but very limited research has addressed sedimentation patterns. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the timing and extent of urbanization and its impact on sediment dynamics and water quality. Satellite images were analyzed using data from the National Land Cover Dataset to re-estimate total impervious surface cover within the Hart Brook watershed at 32.87%. A separate analysis of historical imagery was performed to estimate change in ISC over time within the watershed and found a 400% increase between 1953 and 1998. Additionally, a sediment core was collected from a central floodplain and analyzed for grain size, %C, magnetic susceptibility, [Pb]. A geochemical age model using [Pb] and 14C was used to constrain sedimentation rate over time. Results indicate rapid sedimentation rates of 0.85 cm/yr between 1923 and 1970, and 0.48 cm/yr between 1970 and 1998.


J. Ross Anthony
University of Maine
Aquaculture’s X Americas: Audience segmentation methodologies and information seeking behavior of aquaculture labels

Aquaculture is a rapidly growing industry that accounts for just under half of the global seafood production and continues to play an important role for our domestic national economy and Maine’s economy. Yet despite its current stance as a sustainable food technology, public opinion about aquaculture is still relatively unformed. This may be in part to inherent low levels about the industry or the variance of economic, social, and environmental perceptions about aquaculture products. Labeling of aquaculture products is a viable way to aid in this endeavor through information saliency and message tailoring to bridge the gap between the individual and the information presented on labels at the time of purchase. It is important then to understand how different types of people seek and receive information based on fundamental differences in their perceptions about aquaculture.

We use data from a 2017 national survey collected by the Sustainable Ecological Aquaculture Network (SEANET) Human Dimensions team to capture behaviors and perceptions of aquaculture. To approach our unique problem, audience segmentation methods are employed to (1) introduce heterogeneity in our sample based on a suite of covariates that fundamentally separates individuals into groups by their attitudes and impressions of aquaculture and (2) investigate how aquaculture label seeking behavior on products changes across groups of individuals. Key insights from this work builds off previous studies of aquaculture labeling and seeks to bridge the gap between the aquaculture industry and consumer behavior.

Professional Poster Abstracts

Emily Greene
Department of Environmental Studies, University of New England
The Saco Watershed Collaborative: Safeguarding the Future of the Saco River

Source water protection is a priority of the Saco Watershed Collaborative. The Collaborative is a dedicated group of professionals, community members, and scientists working to protect the irreplaceable water resources and benefits that come from the Saco Watershed. The Saco River provides drinking water for approximately 250,000 residents across southern Maine. Forests, shoreland buffers, wetlands, aquifers, small streams, lakes and ponds, and rivers are all part of a system that collects, filters, and stores water. Led by the University of New England, the Collaborative facilitates and plans meetings and events to engage interested stakeholders in the development of the Saco Watershed Collaborative. In 2017, the Collaborative conducted outreach field trips and meetings to demonstrate the different types of stewardship occurring in the watershed. Thirty-one organizations participated to help build collective knowledge about how the Collaborative could work to accomplish shared goals. Collaboration among organizations working in the watershed will result in benefits to thousands of people who depend upon the Saco River for drinking water, livelihoods, and recreation. An Action Plan developed by members of the collaborative will measure progress and guide the next chapters of Saco Watershed conservation.

Lloyd C. Irland1, Rachel Bouvier2
1 The Irland Group
2 R. Bouvier Consulting
Economics of River Restoration in Southern Maine: History and Concepts

Southern Maine rivers were heavily developed to power small factories and necessary local industries such as grist and sawmills.  In the 19th century, plants had to stand at the source of their power; with electrification, transmission lines could bring power from remote sources.  As the plants needing the power faded away with economic change, many of the dams simply washed out or fell into disrepair.   Maine now sees a revival of interest in restoring river ecosystems or at least facilitating fish migrations.  The state’s public trust duties concerning the rivers have been ignored for so long that they are largely forgotten.  Dam by dam, stream by stream, these issues are being argued out one at a time.  This poster presents a set of economic ideas relevant to thinking about these choices.  Decisions will be ultimately made on the basis of legalistic regulations and raw political power,  but we believe systematic thinking about costs, benefits, and their incidence remains useful.

William G. McDowell1, Alyssa T. Kullberg2
1 Department of Biology, Merrimack College
2 Environmental Studies Program, Colby College
Rapid shifts in Ice Out Dates in New England Lakes: Consequences for Oxygen and Trophic State

Lake ice-out dates offer an opportunity to assess the regional impact of global climate change over 200 years of data, and shifts in the timing of this phenology may lead to both abiotic and biotic changes to lake ecosystems. Previous studies have shown lake ice-out dates in New England shifting 9 to 16 days earlier on average between 1800 and 2000, and we examined how ice-out dates in 24 New England lakes have shifted from 2001-2015using a polynomial regression. Additionally, we used logistic regressions to examine how ice-out date impacted oxygen depletion during the summer. For 16 of the lakes, the rate of shift in predicted ice-out date (velocity) increased for the 2000-2015 period, compared to 1975-2000. The average ice-out date shifted earlier by 0.18 days per year from 1975-2000, and this rate increased to 0.25 days per year from 2000-2015, an increase of 39%. Controlling for year, a logistic regression showed that oxygen stress was more likely to occur during years with early ice-out. This could be due to a longer growing season, leading to more productivity and therefore decomposition. Analysis on phosphorus is ongoing, but anoxic conditions could lead to dissolution of previously insoluble phosphorus. If climate change is contributing to eutrophication, it could be a new contributor to impairment of lakes that cannot be addressed with traditional nutrient management approaches.

Andrew Reeve
School of Earth and Climate Sciences, University of Maine
Aquifer characterization at the Sibley Well Site, Old Town Water District (Maine)

The Old Town Water District (OTWD) utilizes production wells in sand and gravel aquifers adjacent to the Stillwater River to supply Old Town with potable water. Monitoring wells installed by the OTWD around production wells were using in the Fall 2016 and 2017 by a University of Maine Hydrogeology class to collect and analyze hydrogeologic data. These activities provided: [1] students with field experience and [2] data on aquifer characteristics that were provided to the OTWD. Data collected from monitoring wells included: [1] water level
data collected both manually (using a water level indicator) and continuously (using data logging pressure transducers), [2] hydraulic conductivity data measured in selected wells through piezometer testing, and [3] aquifer transmissivity and storativity measured during continuous pumping of the production well. Analysis of piezometer tests indicate the hydraulic conductivity of the sediments around the monitoring wells range from about 1e-2 to 1e-4m/sec. Pumping test analysis at different wells yielded different results, either due to variability of the geologic materials, influence of the nearby river, or non-ideal vertical flow induced by pumping. Measured aquifer transmissivity ranged from 1e-2 to 3e-3 m^2/sec whereas storativity ranged from 0.03 to 0.28. In the Fall 2017 pumping test, which was conducted at a pumping rate of 0.025 m^3/sec, the decline in water levels slowed anomalously after 11 days, suggesting the pumping test was impacted by the nearby river.

Emily Zimmermann
Maine Department of Environmental Protection
Reducing Acidification in Endangered Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar) Habitat

Despite restored access, Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) populations in eastern Maine remain low. Loss of fish populations due to surface water acidification in the North Atlantic region has been well documented. Most waters in eastern Maine periodically experience acidic conditions (pH <6.5), resulting in detrimental impacts to salmon, especially during snow melt and spring/fall runoff. Liming acidic waters (using agricultural lime) has increased salmon abundance in Scandinavia and Nova Scotia, and has been recommended as a restoration action for Maine. A 2009 MEDEP pilot study investigating the efficacy of using clam shells to lime streams, suggested a positive trend. In collaboration with the Downeast Salmon Federation, a multi-year clam shell liming project will be conducted in the East Machias River watershed to further investigate the efficacy of this mitigation method, with the goal to increase macroinvertebrate abundance and diversity, and to increase juvenile salmon abundance. The first year of the project characterized baseline conditions by monitoring water quality May-November using continuous monitoring devices and periodic grab samples. Preliminary data analysis indicates stressful conditions periodically for juvenile salmon, including low pH (minimum of 4.48), high temperature (maximum of 26.06°C), low dissolved oxygen (minimum of 2.66mg/L), low calcium (minimum of 1.32mg/L), and high exchangeable aluminum (maximum of 53ug/L). The dry summer of 2017 resulted in extremely low stream flows, likely causing further stress to salmon in addition to affecting water quality. Monitoring efforts will continue for at least five years to determine the efficacy of using clam shells to mitigate acidity.