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Sustainability Lightning Talks

November 13, 2017 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

| Free

Eight students will present five-minute talks on their sustainability research in Maine.

Selected Presentations:

Graduate

  • Responses of potato varieties to Dickeya dianthicola and Pectobacterium parmentieri that cause blackleg and soft rot
    Nayara Fabiola Marangoni, School of Food and Agriculture
  • Degradation of the Herbicide Atrazine from Drinking Water using Photocatalysis
    Matthew A. Moyet, Ecology and Environmental Sciences
  • The influence of dam management on water quantity in rural New England
    Andrew Newcomb, School of Earth & Climate Sciences
  • Optimizing Organic Nitrogen Fertility Practices Through Farmer and Expert Interviews
    Margaret Pickoff, School of Food and Agriculture
  • Update on what’s been emerging through FERC eLibrary content analysis
    Sarah Vogel, Dept. of Wildlife, Fisheries and Conservation Biology
  • Incorporating environmental variability into assessment and management of American lobster (Homarus americanus)
    Kisei R. Tanaka, Ecology & Environmental Sciences

Undergraduate

  • Bringing Local Food To All: Challenges and Opportunities in Farm To Institution Initiatives
    Michaela Murray
  • Analysis of Dams through Fact Sheet Creation to Aid in Future Dam Decision Making
    Kaitlyn Raffier

Abstracts

Responses of potato varieties to Dickeya dianthicola and Pectobacterium parmentieri that cause blackleg and soft rot
Nayara Fabiola Marangoni, School of Food and Agriculture

Dickeya dianthicola and Pectobacterium parmentieri are major pathogens linked to an outbreak of blackleg and soft rot in the Eastern states of the US in 2015. The use of resistant or tolerant potato varieties is a very effective management strategy. This study aimed to investigate the susceptibility of 9 commercial varieties (cv. Atlantic, Dark Red Norland, Green Mountain, Katahdin, Russet Burbank, Sebago, Shepody, Snowden and Yukon Gold) to these pathogens using tuber inoculation. One-day-old suspensions (approximately 107 CFU/mL) of both D. dianthicola and P. parmentieri were prepared for inoculation. Two 1-cm-deep holes were punched, using a pipette tip, on the extremities of a potato tuber of each variety. 15 µl of the bacterial inoculum of D. dianthicola and P. parmentieri was added inside the hole (one pathogen species per hole), followed by covering the hole with dielectric grease. Water was used as control. Each treatment variety had three tubers as replicates. The inoculated tubers were incubated for 3 days at 28°C and lesion sizes were measured in depth and width. For D. dianthicola, the most tolerant varieties were ‘Snowden’ (lesion average of 1.05 cm), ‘Katahdin’ (1.21 cm) and ‘Shepody’ (1.26 cm). For P. parmentieri, the most tolerant varieties were ‘Green Mountain’ (1.80 cm), ‘Dark Red Norland’ (2.23 cm) and ‘Shepody’ (2.44 cm). No varieties were resistant to blackleg and soft rot pathogens, but susceptibility varied depending on pathogen species and potato variety. ‘Shepody’ was the best choice as it was tolerant to both D. dianthicola and P. parmentieri.

Degradation of the Herbicide Atrazine from Drinking Water using Photocatalysis
Matthew A. Moyet, Ecology and Environmental Sciences

Atrazine is one of the most common agricultural herbicides used in the United States especially for the production of corn and cotton. Due to its abundant use, atrazine is commonly found in wastewater due to agricultural runoff in the state of Maine. Atrazine and other herbicides are persistent organic compounds (POCs), known for their long lifetimes in the environment. Do to the frequent use of atrazine coupled with its chemical stability, atrazine exposure has become an environmental and public health concern. Unfortunately, current methods of wastewater treatment are ineffective at the removal of these harmful contaminants from the drinking supply. Photocatalytic compounds offer a solution for treatment facilities to remove these POCs efficiently and at low operating costs. We have focused our research on the use of photocatalytic bismuth oxyhalides in the photodegradation of the herbicide atrazine. This nontoxic, cheap, and relatively abundant material is able to degrade POCs into nontoxic complexes using ultraviolet light. In order to increase the efficiency of degradation, we have doped this photocatalyst with copper(II) ions as a means to trap excited state electrons. These excited state electrons are responsible for the photochemical behavior and permit the degradation of atrazine. Findings from this research can be used to improve sustainable water treatment in the state of Maine as well as provide a basis for the design and fabrication of advanced photocatalysts.

The influence of dam management on water quantity in rural New England
Andrew Newcomb, School of Earth & Climate Sciences

Dams constitute a severe disturbance for a river’s hydrologic regime. Rural New England has thousands of dams, which are used for hydroelectric production, flood control, water storage, and recreation. The Penobscot River in Maine is among the largest watersheds in rural New England, and has a long history of human alteration by dams, including recent river restoration by dam removal. Dams control the routing of water within a river channel, and thus regulate flow regime downstream and storage upstream. We seek to quantify the effect dams can have on river flow and lake storage in this setting, and how this effect varies within a set of potential scenarios. These scenarios are organized around dam removal, dam operation, and climate change. We examine the tradeoffs associated with these scenarios by comparing the resulting hydrologic regimes for the watershed, and at each reach, reservoir, and junction within the watershed. This approach will allow us to identify the watershed scale role of each dam removal / operation scenario, as well as how it affects its immediate upstream and downstream environment. Looking into the future, we will make the same comparisons between dam management in the context of potential climate changes and examine the ability of dams to regulate water levels and potentially mitigate the effects of climate change. This project will help stakeholders understand how dam management can affect water levels in a rural watershed, and what practices could better achieve a desired water level at a specific location within this system.

Optimizing Organic Nitrogen Fertility Practices Through Farmer and Expert Interviews
Margaret Pickoff, School of Food and Agriculture

Despite robust consumer demand for organic grain products in Maine, only a small percentage of small grains currently grown in the state is certified organic. This gap between local supply and demand presents a significant economic opportunity for farmers in Maine and the wider Northeast region. According to regional growers, one of the biggest hurdles associated with growing small grains organically is accessing reliable, affordable nitrogen fertility to support their crop systems. This study, “Challenges and Opportunities in Nitrogen Management for Organic Grain Production in the Northeast” is a qualitative investigation focused on identifying and exploring the unique challenges that growers in the Northeast face in managing nitrogen fertility and accessing practical nitrogen (N) sources, as well as highlighting practices that growers have found to be successful. Through a series of 60-minute, semi-structured, recorded telephone interviews with organic grain growers and agricultural advisors in the Northeast U.S., various aspects of N management in organic small grain systems will be explored, including the availability and accessibility of organic-approved N sources, grower perceptions and opinions of long-term N-building practices such as planting green manures, and the specific characteristics of a successful N-management strategy in our region. Results from this study will inform future field-based research, and will allow for more tailored outreach and programming to support the continued success of organic grain growers in this region. The lightning talk will provide background for the significance of this cross-disciplinary investigation, and a brief description of methods for data collection and analysis.

Update on what’s been emerging through FERC eLibrary content analysis
Sarah Vogel, Dept. of Wildlife, Fisheries and Conservation Biology

Hydropower provides a reliable source of clean domestic energy but can have significant environmental consequences, including impacts to fish migration. Decreases in anadromous fish populations have demonstrated that current methods of moving fish through dams are not sustainable. Over the next decade, nearly 25 percent of active hydropower dams nationwide will require relicensing by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The period leading up to relicensing presents the most effective opportunity for resource agencies to reconsider license conditions on fish passage. However, the process can be extensive, complicated, and laborious. In an effort to minimize complexity my research is focused on understanding the factors that influence agency choice of fish passage mitigation requirements. To do this, I have begun a targeted analysis of FERC eLibrary database documents and have launched a case study of the West Enfield Project in Enfield, Maine on the Penobscot River. Additionally, participant observations and semi-structured interviews are under development to examine agency decision-making behavior with a focus on interagency dynamics, use of science in decision-making, and scale of negotiated measures. By using retrospective analysis to inform future management I aim to provide decision support tools to resource agencies to aid and enhance FERC-agency consultation to enhance sustainability of the fishery’s resources.

Incorporating environmental variability into assessment and management of American lobster (Homarus americanus)
Kisei R. Tanaka, Ecology & Environmental Sciences

The American lobster (Homarus americanus) supports one of the most valuable fisheries in the Northern Hemisphere. Despite a growing body of literature recognizing the impacts of climate change on many aspects of American lobster population dynamics and its surrounding marine environment, current management and assessment of American lobster stocks do not incorporate environmental variability. To this end, my research will present a coupled biophysical modeling framework that incorporates the effects of climate and ecosystem change into the assessment and management of American lobster. This presentation will describe the research framework and key modeling efforts that include integration of a regional circulation model into bioclimate and population dynamics models. The research outcome will be used to facilitate ecosystem-based lobster fisheries management, and provide a better understanding of how American lobster will respond to changing marine ecosystems. Developing a modeling framework to incorporate environmental variability into assessment and management of resilient fish stock and fisheries in a changing ecosystem will be critical for sustainable fisheries management.

Bringing Local Food To All: Challenges and Opportunities in Farm To Institution Initiatives
Michaela Murray

Across the nation, local food movements are gaining popularity as individuals and businesses alike begin to see the added value of sourcing and consuming locally produced food. One such mechanism for local food procurement are Farm to Institution (FTI) initiatives, in which large scale operations like K-12 schools, universities, and corporations, work with small to medium sized farmers in their area to offer local products to their patrons. Inevitably, there are both challenges and opportunities associated with forming and maintaining these relationships. This talk will present the common problems and advantages to Farm to Institution practices that have been identified in the scope of academic literature. Understanding these concerns is crucial for devising the most effective relationships between FTI stakeholders, and thus increasing the success of Farm to Institution programs in the nation’s changing foodscape.

Analysis of Dams through Fact Sheet Creation to Aid in Future Dam Decision Making
Kaitlyn Raffier

The state of Maine has 597 dams, 156 of which are of high or significant hazard potential according to the National Inventory of Dams Database. With many of them approaching their dates for relicensing, it is important we look at each dam to decide what is best for the future of the stakeholders, environment and renewable energy production. There are many location specific factors to consider: hydrography, land use, history, turbine type, owner, fish passage systems, energy generated etc. but these data are not compiled in any one place for us to access. As we run out of resources to supply us with energy, we must research more sustainable ways to produce energy. Hydropower could be that alternative. Yet, many stakeholders wonder how “sustainable” dams are in the long run. The information to determine this is spread widely across many sources which makes dam decision making very difficult. My research focuses on creating fact sheets for certain dams in the area to contribute site-specific information to share with the NEST Future of Dams team for the hydropower and cost modelling work as well as to initiate discussion with stakeholders for the group MCDA process. These fact sheets are currently posted on the Future of Dams blog, acting as a communicative tool aiming to extend knowledge about dams in our area to other researchers and the public. Systematizing dam information contributes to analysis and provides a framework of factors to look at dams everywhere, especially in New England.

 

Details

Date:
November 13, 2017
Time:
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Cost:
Free
Event Category:

Venue

107 Norman Smith Hall
Mitchell Center - UMaine
Orono, ME 04469 United States
Phone:
207-581-3195
Website:
http://umaine.edu/mitchellcenter/

Organizer

Mitchell Center
Phone:
207-581-3195
Email:
umgmc@maine.edu
Website:
https://umaine.edu/mitchellcenter/