Poster Session

Poster Awards

High School

McKayla Kendall and Maya Elkadi, Bangor High School
The Creation of Silver Nanoparticle Tablets to Combat Heavy Metals in Drinking Water

Honorable Mention
Quinn D’Alessio, Bangor High School
Multi-Point Correlation to Lake Analytics in Developing a Method of Monitoring Eutrophication


Abbey Sykes, Naomi Akagha, and Sophia Strine, Colby College
Understanding Phosphorus Internal Load in Natural and Engineered Lake Systems

Honorable Mention
Gabriela Moroz, College of the Atlantic
Spatial, Temporal, and Well-Specific Influences on Well Water Quality, Northern Mount Desert Island, Maine


Bea Van Dam, University of Maine
Pouring spatial data into shellfishery management decision-making

Honorable Mention
Sarah Risley, University of Maine
Integrating Local Ecological Knowledge and Scientific Knowledge to Understand Complex Relationships in Two Maine Estuaries

Poster Presentations

High School




Presenters are highlighted in bold font.

High School Poster Abstracts

1 HS
Fallopia Japonica as an Alternative Fuel Source to Remediate the Spread of Invasive Species

Meaghan Caron
Bangor High School, Bangor, ME

Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) is a highly invasive plant which has increased in severity over the past century. By dominating native habitats, the species causes rapid reductions in biodiversity while damaging agriculture and economy by compromising the foundation of buildings and ecosystems. To eliminate these setbacks and put its abundance towards good use, this study explores Japanese knotweed as an alternative fuel source. Biomass wood pellets are a proposed solution which have risen in popularity due to their clean, renewable energy. Despite halted lab access due to COVID-19, a method was developed for making homemade wood pellets from Japanese knotweed using a kitchen oven, Cuisinart blender, vegetable oil, and wooden cutting board mold. After qualitative analysis of the pellets, it was determined that high heat and vegetable oil additives were necessary components of a successful biomass wood pellet. Using this criteria, the Japanese knotweed pellets were replicated for testing of moisture content, ash content, and calorific value. By comparison of the Dry Biomass and commercial wood pellets—industrially produced at UMaine—the homemade pellets showed superior performance in energy production. This was associated with a visibly lower moisture content, which allows for the high combustion efficiency of traditional wood pellets. Although the ash content was greater than that of the Dry Biomass, this may be explained by the at-home pellet making process. A larger sample size of pellets is needed to affirm statistical differences, but these data serve as promising preliminary results for Japanese knotweed as an alternative fuel source.

2 HS
Multi-Point Correlation to Lake Analytics in Developing a Method of Monitoring Eutrophication

Quinn D’Alessio
Bangor High School STEM Academy, Bangor, ME

As fossil fuels and synthetic fertilizers continually increase in production, the threat of nutrient pollution comes ever looming over the health of both fresh and saltwater sources with the U.S. alone producing 13.5 kilotons of nitrogen, ⅔ of that figure attributed to agriculture. On a small scale, this pollution can lead to Eutrophication, which is characterized by oxygen deficits and decreases in natural biodiversity, killing off related organisms. In protecting ecosystemic conditions and the quality of vital water supplies, the monitoring of water systems is a primary focus. To make the resources required in this process more accessible, a correlation was developed between key lake analytics and Phytoplankton assemblage, the variable that influences harmful algal blooms and toxification, by studying the conditions of local lakes and collecting data on both these parameters. By limiting the variables to temperature, pH, conductivity, and oxygen saturation the research can become more precise and accessible. Discovering a numeric relationship with the greatest correlation between these characteristics a program can run specific data on the ecosystem and predict a likely Phytoplankton assemblage, providing access to this research to those without the costly and time-consuming methods of directly studying the specimen population. This research will aid in the identification of toxins and the source of pollutants in the fight to preserve biodiversity within limnological ecosystems.

3 HS
Identifying Microplastics in the Sediment of the Penobscot River Watershed using Arc-GIS

Ginny Hunt
Bangor High School, Bangor, ME

Microplastics are one of the leading pollution problems in the world today. These minuscule pieces of plastic no larger than 5 mm in diameter, are polluting oceans, rivers, lakes, and beaches all over the world. Microplastics, prevalent in highly populated areas and those with great deals of human activity, are a serious problem because they are difficult to detect. Locating them and determining high-density areas of microplastics is important in establishing the factors that influence microplastic pollution. This study focuses on the microplastic pollution in the Penobscot River Watershed in Maine. Samples of sediment were collected from eight different shores along the watershed, and separated using density separation, filtration, and Nile Red dye. An image-processing computer script was created using Matlab to determine the percentage of plastic in each sample based on the area of 110 mm filter paper. Small traces of plastic were found in all of the samples. Deer Isle, the southernmost site along the watershed, had the highest traces of microplastics while Dolby Pond, a site along the upper West Branch of the Penobscot River Watershed, had the lowest traces of microplastics. Using Arc-GIS, the effects of population and human activity were mapped and examined. The sites with large amounts of human activity generally had higher percentages of microplastics. The information from this project will show the extent of microplastic pollution along the Penobscot River Watershed, and how population, development, and human activity impact pollution in the area.

4 HS
The Creation of Silver Nanoparticle Tablets to Combat Heavy Metals in Drinking Water

McKayla Kendall and Maya Elkadi
Bangor High School Stem Academy, Bangor, ME

New public testimony shows continued impacts of heavy metals in drinking water throughout the state of Maine. As seen before in the Flint, Michigan water crisis, heavy metal poisoning is harmful and fatal in many cases. These metals disproportionately impact vulnerable populations and are therefore extremely important to monitor and treat. Previous research has shown the positive impacts of Selenium and Vitamin-E in countering the toxicity and negative effects. The antioxidant and protective influences of Vitamin E reduce the effect of heavy metals while selenium reduces toxicity by binding to the metals and creating compounds that are safe for the human body. Prior research that we’ve conducted focused on using silver nanoparticle tablets to purify E. coli-laced drinking water. Building off of this prior research, current research focuses on using Selenium and Vitamin-E in conjunction with silver nanoparticles to remediate heavy metals in drinking water. With these novel additions, tablets were created with sawdust, red clay powder, the aforementioned silver nanoparticles, Selenium, and Vitamin-E by combining them with a hydraulic press and firing them in a kiln. Copper sulfate solutions acted as heavy metal polluted water in order to test the effectiveness of each tablet in a controlled environment through the use of spectroscopy. Results are pending on this novel application of Selenium and Vitamin-E in water purification. This project provides the potential for a cost-effective way to remediate heavy metals in drinking water.

Undergraduate Poster Abstracts

5 UG
Timescales of carbonate chemistry variability as observed in pH, pCO2, and chlorophyll fluctuations in Harpswell Sound, ME

Eugen Cotei1, Branwen Williams2, Alan D. Wanamaker3, Joseph Stewart4, Katherine Guay1, Michèle LaVigne1
1. Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME
2. Claremont McKenna College
3. Iowa State University
4. University of Bristol

Investigating Gulf of Maine seawater responses to natural and anthropogenic forces is critical because it is one of the fastest-warming bodies of water on Earth. Coastal communities rely on ocean ecosystem services and fisheries, clam, and mollusk flats are at risk due to increasingly stress-inducing conditions. High environmental variability from seasonal fluctuations in temperature, riverine inflow, and primary productivity alongside limited water parameter observations, lead coastal waters to be a major area for research. This project sets out to validate the Schiller Coastal Studies Center seawater sensor system with seasonal sampling campaigns. I then calculate the carbonate chemistry and compare laboratory to sensor values to validate the sensor. Next, I graph sensor-collected data to visualize water parameter fluctuations on daily, seasonal, and yearly time scales and finally compare results with Crustose Coralline Algae proxy pH data since ~1920n. The data suggest that Harpswell Sound experiences significant variability on all timescales as observed in pH and pCO2 fluctuations. Given that the dynamic environment is influenced on a short scale by extreme tides, day/night cycles, and seasonal changes, some patterns are easily attributed to processes like primary productivity. Alternatively, long-term pH variability is complex and may be related to anthropogenic change and fluctuating source currents. Such high-frequency data is more pertinent than ever on local and regional scales because the covariance between rapidly warming waters and climate change, alongside diverse ME coastal environments gives rise to short and long-term corrosive fluctuations and poor environmental conditions.

6 UG
Stakeholder groups have different preferences for freshwater resource management in Acadia National Park

Dominique DiSpirito, Katharine J. Ruskin, Adam Gibson
1. University of Maine, Orono, ME
2. Acadia National Park, Mount Desert Island, ME

National parks are socio-ecological systems managed with the intention of preserving natural resources and serving diverse stakeholders. The variety of stakeholder values poses a significant challenge to the management of resources within the protected lands. Freshwater resources within Acadia National Park (ANP) epitomize this dilemma due to the complex arrangement of jurisdictions and uses present. In this study, we characterized the stakeholder values and priorities for freshwater resource management in ANP. Over a twelve-month period, we collected 553 intercept surveys and eight interviews from seven stakeholder groups through a combination of in-person paper and electronic methods. Using the Potential Conflict Index (PCI2), we observed that the level of consensus among stakeholder groups varied based on resource use (e.g., wildlife habitat vs. tourism). Our findings provide insight for ANP natural resource management and a model for including stakeholder perspectives into public land use management.

7 UG
UMaine SARS-CoV-2 Wastewater Surveillance

Audrie French, Kettie CormierHarrison Cyr
Wheeler Lab, University of Maine

Wastewater based epidemiology (WBE) is an approach to health monitoring that uses detection of pathogens in wastewater to track the incidence of public health issues (Zhang,Y. et al 2020). It has the advantage of integrating the results of the entire community, so it is anonymous, and less expensive than testing individuals. A precipitation method using PEG – 8000 (Polyethylene Glycol) and NaCl was compared to a Nanotrap Magnetic Bead concentration method using an IDEXX Kit, to determine the most effective method in terms of cost, time, and use of materials. These methods are compared and used for further testing with RT-LAMP (reverse transcriptase loop-mediated isothermal amplification), a simple, rapid detection method for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. RT-LAMP is a test that can be scored positive by eye based on a visual color change, though it is not yet as sensitive as the standard qPCR. Attempts to improve sensitivity and specificity of the LAMP to match qPCR include adding a fluorescent DNA dye to the RT-LAMP protocol and running it in a qPCR machine for real time fluorescent detection, as well as adding the fluorescent dye after the protocol and measuring fluorescence with a plate reader. With the discovery of new viral variants, we have begun work on testing for variants in wastewater by amplifying the entire spike protein, which is responsible for the increased infectivity (Santos, J. & Passos, G., 2021), and using AI generated B.1.1.7 variant specific primers to test specifically for the variant.

8 UG
The role of GIS in developing an outreach tool for a long-term watershed restoration project

Dean L. Hernandez1, Mindee Goodrum2, Marcia Moreno-Baez1
1. University of New England, Biddeford, ME
2. York County Soil and Water Conservation District, Springvale, ME

Geographic information systems (GIS) has great applications in the development of scientific communication and outreach platforms due to its ability to effectively articulate data visually. Working with the York County Soil and Water Conservation District, GIS was used primarily to develop an outreach tool to articulate the progress of the Thatcher Brook Watershed Restoration project. Thatcher Brook Watershed is made up of a 7.7 mile long brook that stems from the Saco River and is located in the City of Biddeford and the Town of Arundel. The brook is heavily impacted by high volumes of polluted runoff from rain events due to the increasing amount of development and impervious surface. The restoration project focuses on the implementation of a watershed management plan (WMP), over the span of ten years, to restore the watershed to Class B water quality standards set by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. The purpose of the WMP is to identify potential sources of water pollution and determine the best strategies to improve water quality throughout the watershed. A Storymap was designed to be the platform that would host all the information pertaining to the project. This would serve as a presentation format for the articulating the project and its progress that could be embedded directly into the organization’s website and accessed by the general public. The accessibility of this platform coupled with its ability to visually display the project’s spatial data provides immense opportunity to engage the community with local conservation efforts.

9 UG
Spatial, Temporal, and Well-Specific Influences on Well Water Quality, Northern Mount Desert Island, Maine

Gabriela Moroz1, Sarah R. Hall1, Jane Disney2, Anna Farrell2, Bruce A. Stanton3
1. College of the Atlantic, Bar Harbor, ME
2. MDI Biological Laboratory, Bar Harbor, ME
3. Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH

Over half of people in Maine rely on privately owned wells for their drinking water. Largely due to the local geology, well owners in Maine may be exposed to low doses of arsenic over long periods of time, leading to potential long-term health complications including multiple types of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and cognitive issues in children. As an extension of the All About Arsenic project started by MDI Biological Laboratory and Dartmouth College, College of the Atlantic students and faculty analyzed the spatial distribution of arsenic and other common contaminants in the groundwater of northern Mount Desert Island, Maine. They confirmed a local spatial correlation between bedrock and groundwater chemistry and reported that seasonality may influence well conditions as some well owners reported that their well ran dry during the summer months. In order to assess temporal variations in private well water quality, we initiated a contact-free dry-season sampling project in the same locality, resampling some of the wells previously sampled in the wet season. In this new study, we are collecting monthly samples from ~30 wells, pre and post filter when possible, for one year. Preliminary data indicate that arsenic levels in some wells may fluctuate above or below the MCL, potentially leaving well owners unaware that their drinking water may exceed the MCL. We suggest that well owners test their well water at least twice a year during different seasons in order to properly assess and mitigate contaminants in their water.

10 UG
Data Analysis and Spatial Mapping of Dissolved Oxygen in the Androscoggin River from 1930-2019

Vanessa Paolella, Beverly Johnson
Bates College, Department of Earth and Climate Sciences, Lewiston, ME

The Androscoggin River was one of the most polluted waterways in the United States in the 20th century and inspired Senator Edmund Muskie to write the Clean Water Act (CWA) of 1972. Untreated mill waste and raw sewage were regularly discharged into the river from the late 1800s to the 1970s, increasing biological oxygen demand and depleting dissolved oxygen (DO). Growing concern for the condition of the river led to increasing regulations, first on sulfite waste discharge and later on all point source pollutants. Executives from the paper companies were tasked with studying and remediating the river from the 1940s to 1970s, however financial interests superseded environmental concerns and progress was slow. The major accomplishment of this committee was replacing sulfite pulping mills with Kraft pulping mills, which produced less effluent, by 1965. Later, the CWA prompted the construction of wastewater treatment facilities along the river, further reducing organic waste. The environmental history of the river is well documented, however no study since 1978 has sought to quantify changes in DO beginning with the first water quality survey in 1930.

Average August DO data from 1930-2019 was considered spatially and temporally to evaluate remedial actions by the paper companies and government. August data were used in this study because it is the most consistently sampled month, and because DO concentrations and discharge are at their lowest. The shift from sulfite to Kraft pulping between 1959-1965 led to the first notable increase in DO since annual monitoring began in 1948. The CWA resulted in the most significant improvements in water quality, bringing the average DO above 5 ppm at almost every site following 1977 and making nearly every stretch of the river habitable by fish year-round for the first time in at least 35 years. Results also indicate reduced variation in average DO between June-September post-CWA, compared to pre-CWA data. Surveys focused on the Gulf Island Pond, a 14-mile-long impoundment north of Lewiston, document slight improvement in surface water DO levels after 1992. The reduction of organic-rich municipal and industrial waste discharges has greatly improved DO in the Androscoggin River, however it remains the dirtiest of Maine’s major rivers despite decades of remedial efforts.

11 UG
Pathways of arsenic ingestion in Maine: Data to action

Isidora Liliana Muñoz Segovia1, Sergio Cahueque2, Anna Farrell3, Gabriela Moroz1, Sarah R. Hall1, Kate Buckman4, Jane Disney3

1. College of the Atlantic, Bar Harbor, ME
2. Defend Our Health, Portland, ME
3. MDI Biological Laboratory, Bar Harbor, ME
4. Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH

While high arsenic doses can be fatal, chronic low-dose exposures elevates the risk for various negative health outcomes: various cancers, cardiovascular, pulmonary, and neurological effects. In this study, we measured arsenic concentrations in a primary pathway of low-dose chronic arsenic ingestion in private well water. Arsenic is naturally sourced from bedrock throughout Maine and New England. Additionally, human activities such as the use of arsenical pesticides in agricultural areas of Maine during the twentieth century, contribute additional arsenic to the near surface environment. We suspect that the cause of elevated As in shallow wells located in areas where arsenical pesticides were historically used is due to residual concentrations harbored in the soil. We plan to collect soil samples to pair with well water chemistry data collected through the AAA program and the CDC database. Preliminary data from soil pits on previously farmed properties in the central coast of Maine confirm arsenic resides in the shallow soil. Arsenic is detected in both the drilled and dug wells on the properties.

While recent efforts in Maine have focused on arsenic contamination in water from drilled wells, likely associated with bedrock sources, less data exists for sources contributing to shallow well contamination. Alongside the soil sampling effort, we are collaborating with environmental and public health organizations, school teachers, and researchers in a civic engagement effort fueled by citizen scientist data collection. To enable members of the public to bring “data to action” we created a toolkit with potential steps citizens can take to potentially improve the health of their wider community.

12 UG
Understanding Phosphorus Internal Load in Natural and Engineered Lake Systems

Abbey Sykes, Naomi Akagha, Sophia Strine, Whitney King
Colby College, Waterville, ME

The internal recycling of freshwater lake bottom sediments represents a significant source of hypolimnetic phosphorus (P) release for many of Maine’s lakes. In summer months, Maine lakes often thermally stratify and the lake hypolimnion develops anoxia, leading to a reduction in redox potential at the sediment-water interface. These reducing conditions facilitate the reductive dissolution of ferric iron, and, since P is often present in freshwater lake sediments as solid FeOOH-PO4 complexes, the subsequent release of reactive P into the water column. Our current study presents field and laboratory data from sediment fractionation extractions designed to quantify concentrations of P, Fe and Al in lake bottom sediments from East Pond (Smithfield, ME), Great Pond (Belgrade, ME) and China Lake (China, ME). We focus on elucidating the chemical foundations of the fractionation method so as to streamline our extraction procedure and minimize the required sample size. We confirm that internal P flux is negligible during hypolimnetic anoxia if the molar ratio Al:Fe is > 3. Additionally, we apply our extraction data to optimize alum-dosing schemes designed to mitigate internal P flux in lakes above their P sorption threshold using the designated Al:Fe ratio as an operational target for Al additions.

Graduate Poster Abstracts

13 G
Prediction of Coastal Transport Timescales and Connectivity in Shallow Mesotidal Inland Bay Estuaries

Sohaib Alahmed1, Lauren Ross1, Sean Smith2,3
1. Civil and Environmental Engineering, UMaine, Orono, ME
2. School of Earth and Climate Sciences, UMaine, Orono, ME
3. Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions, UMaine, Orono, ME

Sustainability solutions to water-quality management problems require knowledge and understanding of circulation and transport rates that govern water-quality conditions. This research demonstrates approaches to frame and implement estuary investigations with the purpose of quantifying hydrodynamics influencing estuary water pollution governed by freshwater flows and estuary tidal dynamics. The study area is a coastal location on the coast of Maine, USA, where coastal pollution problems have been documented. A Lagrangian particle tracking study is implemented to examine transport patterns to identify the conditions and mechanisms that influence them. Particles are released and tracked in hydrodynamic simulations over month-long periods with a range of conditions specified by freshwater flow input, tide range, and varied density gradient condition. Results show in wide and geometrically simple estuaries with a simple bed profile, the flushing behavior is controlled by the mean flow rather than the tide. In such estuaries, suppression of the density gradient produces an order of magnitude increase in residence and flushing time. Narrow channels and the presence of geographically complex features such as islands and constrictions limit the length of residual eddies and increase the tidal excursion. Transport timescales in estuaries with these conditions are more sensitive to variations in the tidal range than to changes in residual flow. Explorations of the relations between residual eddy length and tidal excursion provide a practical way for managers to identify controls on particle transport in estuaries and to determine the appropriate management actions necessary to address coastal water pollution problems in similar settings.

14 G
An UAV-based Remote Sensing Platform To Monitor The Physiological Status Of Wild Blueberries For Precision Management.

Kallol Barai, Yongjiang Zhang
School of Biology & Ecology, University of Maine, Orono, ME

The wild blueberry farms are semi-natural systems with large spatial heterogeneity. Due to genetic diversity among the clones and spatial variability of soil properties, crop water use and soil water retention capability can be drastically different within a field. But current conventional irrigation practices treat the field uniformly without considering the spatial variability. These uniform irrigation practices may result in over or under application of water resources within a field. This can result in reduced yield, profitability and affecting the sustainability of agricultural production.

Leaf water potential (LWP) is widely used for monitoring water status. But calculating LWP is disruptive, time-consuming, and labor-intensive, thus not suitable for large-scale fields for real-time detection of water stress for irrigation scheduling. Canopy temperature is an indicator of plant water status. The use of crop water stress index (CWSI) based on canopy temperature has been studied in many crops and found effective in detecting crop water status as it highly correlates with leaf water potential (LWP). But no previous studies were done on validating CWSI in wild blueberries.

In our study, a drone-based thermal sensor was used to collect canopy temperature data. Field-based LWP data was also collected. Linear regression models for estimating LWP from the thermal index CWSI were built and show a significant correlation (R²=0.70; p< 0.001). A CWSI map was also built, which shows the variability of water status across the field. By detecting crop water status using the CWSI, irrigation can be intelligently controlled to increase efficiency and profitability.

15 G
Adsorption of Synthetic Organic Compounds by Microplastics: A Cacophonous Literature

Ashton Collins1, Eliza Costigan1, Kartik Bhagat2, Jay Oswald2, Francois Perreault2, Onur Apul1

1. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Maine, Orono, ME
2. School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ

Global plastic production has increased by 1250% per person (0.008-1 ton) on Earth from 1950 to 2020; therefore, it is imperative to understand the effects of their discharge into the marine environment. Microplastic (size <5mm) formation in the aqueous systems is among the inevitable consequences of plastic pollution, which has cascading environmental and health impacts. Our study aimed to summarize and critically review literature on the adsorption of synthetic organic compounds (SOC) by microplastics in aqueous environments since first published in 2008. A database of 49 articles, reporting 79 SOCs, was created to provide a reference for our work. Our findings indicated that phenanthrene was the most commonly investigated SOCs, appearing in 13 of these studies. Hence, we modeled adsorption of phenanthrene by seven most-studied microplastic types (e.g., HDPE, PP, PS) with the Freundlich isotherm parameters to determine adsorption variability and understand the controlling factors for adsorption. Additionally, a comparative analysis indicated that among the seven major microplastic types, HDPE and LDPE made up 29% of global production, 28% of microplastics detected in the environment, but only used in 3% of adsorption studies. This review determined that there is a large variation of results found within the literature for adsorption of different SOCs onto multitude of microplastics in various background solutions. There is a strong need for defined microplastics testing procedures to better represent the interactions of microplastics with the environment. Future work will include moving to the nanoscale and analyzing similar parameters on nanoplastics in the aquatic environment.

16 G
A Possible Solution to Rural Brain Drain in Maine: How Environmental Place-Based Attachment Influences Future Residential Aspirations of Rural Youth

Zachary Davis1, Jessica Leahy1, Kathleen Bell1, Mindy Crandall2
1. University of Maine
2. Oregon State University

Rural youth out-migration can intensify workforce shortages, population declines, brain-drain, and other social and economic issues that threaten the sustainability of rural communities in Maine and across the United States. In this research, we advance knowledge of youth migration decisions by incorporating measures of place and community attachment. We focus on testing for positive associations between the desire to live in a rural area and place attachment as well as community attachment. We designed and administered a survey to 666 middle and high school students in Piscataquis and northern Somerset County in 2019 (response rate=87%). Using 578 survey responses provided by students from 5 schools, we use regression and statistical tests to assess empirically the associations between the stated desire to live in a rural area and measures of place and community attachment. In addition to measuring place and community attachment, we control for relevant economic factors (e.g., age, income, and stated human capital goals). Results reveal positive associations between place and community attachment and the desire to live in a rural area. In contrast, advanced education goals were negatively associated with the desire to live in a rural area. Our findings suggest that by using policies and practices that build both place and community attachment, rural communities could influence the future migration decisions of rural youth. We highlight actions families, schools, non-profit community organizations, and private businesses could take to create opportunities for rural youth to build place and community attachment and foster community well-being.

17 G
The Effect of COVID-19 on Hospitality and Building Supply Sales in Maine

Yelshaday Gebreselassie, Todd Gabe, Kathleen P. Bell
School of Economics, University of Maine

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused millions of deaths and resulted in large economic impacts around the world. The impacts of COVID-19 on regions and sectors of the economy, however, have been uneven. Whereas the pandemic stopped almost all tourism activity, it has also sparked real estate sales and construction in places that were less impacted by COVID-19.

This study examines the impacts of COVID-19 on hospitality and building supply sales in Maine. These two sectors are good barometers of the activity in and around Maine’s recreational- and nature-based assets, which are strong draws to visitors (i.e., hospitality sales) and new residents (i.e., building supply sales).

Our empirical results show large negative impacts of COVID-19 on Maine hospitality sales. For example, hospitality sales in Maine were 64.1 percent lower than forecasted in April 2020, and 35.3 percent lower than expected in July 2020. Conversely, the building supply sector experienced higher than expected sales over the first five months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Building supply sales in Maine were 11.2 percent higher than expected in April 2020, and 26 percent above our forecast in July 2020.

The study findings have important implications related to the balance between visitors and residents in and around Maine’s recreational- and nature-based assets. This may influence the location, timing and levels of environmental impacts and water usage associated with visitors and Maine residents. In addition, this may change patterns in the use of recreation and conservation areas and their provision of ecosystem services and economic impacts.

18 G
Strengthening learning, leadership and equity in Maine and Wabanaki wild shellfisheries: Insights from the Maine Shellfish Learning Network

Gabrielle Hillyer1, Anthony Sutton2, Bridie McGreavy3
1. Ecology and Environmental Sciences, University of Maine, Orono, ME
2. Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions, University of Maine, Orono, ME
3. Department of Communication and Journalism, University of Maine, Orono, ME

The Maine Shellfish Learning Network (MSLN) is focused on building relationships and improving communication between different stakeholders within wild clam and mussel fisheries. These fisheries face multiple social and environmental pressures, like climate change and/or systemic inequity. In response, communities have developed a diverse set of applied shellfish projects, funded through the Maine Shellfish Restoration and Resilience Fund. Shellfish projects include installing nets to protect juvenile clams from predators, using citizen science and tidal monitoring to understand factors influencing pollution circulation, developing the quahog fishery, and more. Developing partnerships is a key element of success for these projects. To help facilitate and support these efforts, the MSLN has strengthened partnerships through communication and capacity building by hosting formal and informal meetings to create new learning opportunities and cross-scale coordination; developing The Mudflat, a web-based resource to archive and share information about shellfishing; collaboratively facilitating Shellfish Focus Day, a yearly event at the Fisherman’s Forum; co-developing a water quality decision support tree to assist towns in finding and fixing water pollution;, and connecting community projects with partners who can support those efforts. Most recently, the MSLN interviewed 20 learning network participants to better understand issues facing this fishery, and shape our future work.

In this poster, we intend to share the process for developing the network, how the MSLN has continued to create new spaces for collaboration, and insights from recent interviews about how collaboration between scientists, communities, managers, and other stakeholders can improve adaptive capacity for this fishery and beyond.

19 G
Migration of adult sea lamprey in the vicinity of the Milford Dam, Penobscot River, ME

Erin Peterson1, Danielle Frechette2, Joseph D. Zydlewski1,3
1. Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Conservation Biology, University of Maine
2. Maine Department of Marine Resources, Division of Sea Run Fisheries and Habitat
3. U.S. Geological Survey, Maine Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit

Little is known about the influence of dams on sea lamprey migration within the Penobscot River. Because adults must access freshwater rivers in order to spawn, sea lampreys are susceptible to changes in river connectivity, especially the barriers posed by human-made structures such as dams. In 2020 we tagged 50 lampreys and released them below the Milford Dam, the lowest dam in the system, to assess passage efficiency. All of the tagged lampreys were detected in the fishway following release. Forty-eight (96%) of lamprey were detected at the dam within 24 hours and one lamprey entered the fishway within 36-48 hours of release. The remaining lamprey was not detected at the dam but was detected upstream of the dam approximately 48 hours after release. Forty-one tagged lamprey successfully passed Milford Dam, and at least 27 did so within 48 hours of arrival at the fishway. Thirty-nine fish were detected at least once upstream of the dam and two fish were detected passing Milford Dam but nowhere else upstream. This study will be repeated in 2021with a second release group that will have little if any sensory cues from the Milford Dam fishway. The goal is to determine if the direction from which lamprey approach the dam influences their ability to find efficient passage. The data collected during this study will aid in building our knowledge of the anthropogenic impacts to sea lamprey in the Penobscot River and will serve as a basis for future studies of this ecologically important species.

20 G
The Economic Resilience of Natural Resource Dependent Communities in the United States

Joseph Reed1, Adam Daigneault2, Kathleen Bell3
1. Resource Economics and Policy, University of Maine, Orono, ME
2. School of Forest Resources, University of Maine, Orono, ME
3. School of Economics, University of Maine, Orono, ME

Since the Great Recession in 2008, interest in economic resilience research in the United States has increased steadily. Economic resilience is defined as the ability of an economy to recover to a pre-shock level of economic well-being post-economic shock. Some regions especially rural ones are much more susceptible to economic shocks due to many factors. However, the majority of this resilience research is done at the county scale due to the availability, quality, and frequency at which data are assembled for counties relative to smaller geographic units. This convention leads researchers to overlook smaller, rural natural resource-dependent communities (NRDC), who are often the most susceptible to economic shocks. In this research, we will adopt a community-scale (i.e., sub-county) approach and focus on NRDCs. We selected resilience indicators (factors that are predicted to be correlated with resilience) based on prior research on resilience. Using time-series econometric analysis, we estimate the length of economic recessions and the probability that NRDCs will rebound from a recession. Results to date suggest economists have much to add to the interdisciplinary literature on economic resilience. Assessing correlations between metrics/indicators and resilience in US NRDCs offers guidance for future structural research, and gives NRDC policymakers across the United States insights and tools to analyze where and how their communities are vulnerable to economic shocks. Our ultimate research goal is to provide information and tools that will help strengthen the overall resilience of NRDCs, reduce their unemployment, and increase economic productivity during recessionary periods.

21 G
Integrating Local Ecological Knowledge and Scientific Knowledge to Understand Complex Relationships in Two Maine Estuaries

Sarah Risley, Melissa Britsch
University of Maine, Orono, ME

The Damariscotta and Medomak River Estuaries are complex social-ecological systems, where varied groups of stakeholders use and value their ecosystem services, including food, clean water, and areas for recreation and marine-related industries. Collecting data in these systems is often challenging, requiring extensive field work and scientific expertise. These limitations lead to data gaps that restrict the capacity of municipalities to manage coastal resources, like the softshell clam fishery. As an alternative to traditional survey methods, we conducted a participatory mapping study to document local knowledge about these estuaries. Participatory mapping (PM) is a research methodology that solicits expert local knowledge to produce geospatial data. Study participants (n = 52) included recreational and commercial fishermen, local researchers, and sailors, among others. Preliminary results include spatial data for human use activities and shellfish populations in the estuaries, showing ‘hotspot’ locations with many shared uses or distributions of commercially important shellfish species. The study also documented hypotheses about change and drivers of change in the estuaries through qualitative interviews. We demonstrate that local knowledge and PM can help fill data gaps and aid in managing complex marine ecosystems by gathering social and ecological data in tandem. We propose that researchers and resource managers can facilitate a discourse between local knowledge and scientific knowledge through the use of PM and local knowledge. Although in the preliminary stages, we posit that the collective use of these diverse sources of knowledge can improve civic capacity, inform management practices, and ultimately lead to more resilient coastal ecosystems.

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Pouring spatial data into shellfishery management decision-making

Bea Van Dam1,2, Sean Smith1,2
1. School of Earth and Climate Sciences, University of Maine, Orono, ME
2. Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions, University of Maine, Orono, ME

Closures of Maine’s coastal shellfish harvest areas due to bacteria pollution have substantial economic and social consequences for more than 1,500 licensed harvesters and their communities. Management of harvest areas to protect public health while avoiding unnecessary closures requires use of spatial information to make science-based decisions related to land-sea connections along the state’s ~5,600 km long, geographically varied coastline. Prior research demonstrates coastal river watersheds can be clustered into a limited number of coastal “settings” with self-similar physiographic and land cover conditions. This project was undertaken to integrate near-coast “margin” watershed areas and estuarine waters into an expanded clustering and pollution vulnerability analysis of coastal embayment settings based on factors relating to bacteria landscape sources, delivery of polluted runoff to shellfish flats, and residence time of polluted water within tidal embayments.

This poster describes a geographic information systems (GIS) tool to allow managers to access cluster designation and other data for any embayment or sub-embayment along the Maine coastline. The “Estuary Builder” uses digital high-resolution elevation data to route precipitation runoff to user-defined embayment outlet “pour lines” and aggregates proxy metric data related to bacteria sources, delivery, and residence time for the contributing area, then identifies the type of coastal setting (cluster) the delineated location best matches based on aggregated metrics. This tool provides new capacity for coastal resource managers to rapidly acquire spatial information to guide management strategies in locations with limited data using historic bacteria monitoring station data from well-monitored flats within the same cluster setting.

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Resilient Coastal Solutions

Elisabeth Younce, Matthew Fischer, Preston Spicer, Reilley Hicks, Samuel Rickerich, Sohaib Alahmed, Taylor Bailey, Kimberly Huguenard, and Lauren Ross
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Maine, Orono, ME

The coastal engineering group of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Maine aims to use scientific research to help produce sustainable and resilient solutions for coastal communities. Advances in coastal engineering research at UMaine address problems such as rising sea levels, storm surge, coastal pollution, and erosion, and consider the implications on economic systems like aquaculture and ocean renewable energy. Current research utilizes numerical modeling, laboratory experiments, and field-based observations to elucidate the underlying physics controlling most coastal engineering problems. Research topics are diverse and include: (1) the mixing and transport of river water into the coastal ocean, (2) wave and tide interactions, (3) erosion dynamics and mitigation techniques, (4) interactions between hydrodynamics and aquaculture to aid Maine farmers, and (5) wave basin design and testing of coastal features in a shallow water wave environment. Outcomes of this work — such as understanding wave damping characteristics on suspended kelp longlines — will better inform government agencies, stakeholders, fellow scientists, and engineers. While contributing to the development of sustainable coastal solutions, the work of the coastal engineering group also seeks to advance research in the fields of coastal engineering and physical oceanography.

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Vertical habitat gradients: comparing phytoplankton dynamics between lakes with varying dissolved organic carbon concentration in Acadia National Park

Matthew J. Farragher1,2, Vaclava Hazukova1,2, William G. Gawley3, Jasmine E. Saros1,2
1. School of Biology and Ecology, University of Maine, Orono, ME
2. Climate Change Institute, University of Maine, Orono, ME
3. National Park Service, Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, ME

Trends of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentrations in lakes of Maine have been variable over recent decades. Increasing DOC concentration is often attributed with the ‘browning’ of lakewater, where darker lakes exhibit lower light penetration through the water column as well as warmer surface water temperatures. To investigate the biological impact of changing DOC concentrations, we measured vertical gradients of temperature, light, and phytoplankton biomass across four lakes in Acadia National Park with low but varying DOC concentrations. From under-ice through the open water season, we assessed how vertical habitat gradients differed between two higher-DOC lakes (~4 mg/L) compared to that of two low-DOC lakes (~2 mg/L). We found that the higher-DOC lakes had greater vertical heterogeneity of chlorophyll a profiles, and greater seasonal heterogeneity of algal biomass compared to the low-DOC lakes. Substantial differences in the vertical distribution and seasonal dynamics of phytoplankton between lakes with low- to moderate-DOC concentrations suggests that relatively small changes in DOC concentration can lead to broader ecological consequences through the alteration of phytoplankton habitat conditions.

Professional Poster Abstracts

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Predicting freshwater inflows to Frenchman Bay, Maine

Kenen Goodwin, Bea Van DamJeremy Braun, Sean Smith

School of Earth and Climate Sciences, University of Maine
Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions, University of Maine

Frenchman Bay is a 230 km2 estuary supporting an economically important shellfishing industry. However, land-sea connections in the region pose threats to water quality conditions with implications to shellfish harvesting activities and public health. In particular, bacteria pollution derived from precipitation runoff generation in watersheds surrounding Frenchman Bay can lead to temporary closures to shellfish harvesting. Sustainability solutions for the shellfishing industries in the estuary thereby require knowledge of rainfall and runoff relations in contributing watersheds. Here we summarize research focused on rainfall-runoff relations to predict freshwater inflows into Frenchman Bay related to 24-hour precipitation event scenarios with depths of 0.5, 1, 2, and 3 inches. We use the HEC-HMS watershed hydrology simulation platform to calculate effective precipitation and stream discharge time series with calibration based on nine observed precipitation runoff events in two estuary watersheds. Precipitation input data used for model calibration runs is derived using daily estimates from radar measurements hosted by the PRISM Climate Group, decomposed into hourly rates of input using local weather station rainfall data. Calibration is completed using hourly discharge measurement time series recorded in the two study watersheds (Crippens Brook, Kilkenny Stream). Model simulations are complete for design storm hydrographs with Type III rainfall distributions for each rainfall depth scenario. Predictions in 14 other ungauged watersheds are made using area unit discharge values from the scenario simulations in the two gauged watersheds. Results provide boundary conditions for estuary hydraulic simulations and predictions of water quality loads into Frenchman Bay.

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Wading into our Waters: 19 years of citizen science water quality monitoring in the Saco River Basin

Trent Millum, Jill Emerson
Green Mountain Conservation Group

Long-term surface water quality monitoring programs are crucial to determining the health and stability of the various water bodies in a watershed. Measuring physical and chemical parameters at different sites from the headwaters to the main stem allows for the assessment of variations over space and time within a particular watershed. The composition of surface waters is highly dependent on environmental factors such as geology, topography, meteorology, hydrology, and biology; and human intervention such as the spreading of chemicals onto agricultural land and of road salt onto paved surfaces. The Regional Interstate Volunteers for the Rivers and Ecosystems of Saco (RIVERS) program was established in 2002 as a joint venture by Green Mountain Conservation Group (GMCG) in New Hampshire and the Saco River Corridor Commission (SRCC) in Maine. It is designed to be a collaborative citizen science water quality monitoring program that encompasses the streams and tributaries of the Saco River Basin. Volunteers collect data at 29 stream sites in New Hampshire and 36 stream sites in Maine, bi-weekly from May – October. All sites are monitored for several physical and chemical parameters. Specific conductance demonstrated an increasing trend at 85% of RIVERS sites in New Hampshire (p < 0.05) including 3 sites with particularly high values for conductance, sodium, and chloride. RIVERS sites in Maine showed lower conductance values with an increasing trend, in addition to dissolved oxygen values decreasing at several sites. Overall, 19 years of stream monitoring has demonstrated high water quality in the Saco River Basin.

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National Water Model Application in Maine Coastal Water Quality Management

Jeremy Braun1 Sean Smith1,2, Neil Fisher3, Bridie McGreavy2,4
1. School of Earth and Climate Sciences, University of Maine, Orono, ME
2. Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solution, University of Maine, Orono, ME
3. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Maine, Orono, ME
4. Department of Communication and Journalism, University of Maine, Orono, ME

Sources of water pollution in Maine’s coastal estuaries are often closely linked to watershed runoff during rainfall events. Water pollution problems such as bacterial contamination in estuaries adversely impact coastal shellfishing industries and communities. Solutions to these nonpoint source problems require information on rainfall-runoff conditions. Some of the most helpful types of information for coastal resource managers provide near-term predictions of coastal streamflows to allow managers to respond to forecast runoff conditions affecting estuaries. One such potential source of information is the National Water Model (NWM) which is a hydrologic modeling framework that simulates observed and forecast streamflows over the entire continental United States. However, the accuracy of this model is not clear in coastal Maine settings. This research focuses on runoff predictions by the NWM to guide its possible utility in the management of water quality problems in the coastal estuaries of Maine. The goal of this research project is to develop guidelines to advance uses of watershed runoff forecast tools in coastal areas of Maine. Three related objectives are targeted in a representative coastal watershed, Crippens Brook, in Trenton, Maine: 1) Improve understanding of relations between precipitation and watershed runoff influencing pollution trends along Maine’s coast through the use of real stream discharge measurements, 2) Determine the accuracy of simulations performed using the National Water Model to evaluate its capacity to predict coastal watershed runoff rates, and 3) Develop guidelines for use of the NWM for the prediction of pollution from runoff discharges into coastal estuaries in Maine.