Research Project Database

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Governance of Sustainable Ecological Aquaculture

Aquaculture in Maine is a relatively new and rapidly developing industry, and hence, the governance of this industry is generally understudied. The governance system enables or constrains the behavior of actors embedded within social-ecological systems, and thus, is a main driver of social sustainability and social carrying capacity of sustainable ecolo…

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Effect of Fear to be Eaten by Predators on Commercially Important Shellfish Species; and Differential Stress Tolerance in Multiple Populations of Green Crabs

The objective of this project is to characterize population-specific stress tolerance and destructiveness of green crabs from four genetically different populations, and quantify and identify cellular mechanism of altered energy use in clams when exposed to a predator. The green crab, Carcinus maenas, is a globally invasive species native to Europe. It…

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Maine Ocean

Impact of Environmental Change on Material Transport

Estuarine circulation is the mechanism governing long-term material transport in estuaries, such as plankton, suspended sediment, and pollutants, which is important to understand for aquaculture sustainability in estuaries under environmental change. Many studies have shown that the lateral variability of this transport can vary significantly across the…

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Investigating Culture and Products of Sea Vegetables

The objective of this project is to investigate the chemical composition of macroalgae for safe food production, and identify and optimize production of antimicrobial compounds present in local macroalgae. Aquaculture of macroalgae on the coast of Maine produces 33,000 pounds of biomass per acre and consumes excess nutrients and CO2 from seawater in the…

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In the lab

Synthesis and Evaluation of Cellulose Nanofiber Coatings to Prevent Biofouling

Marine biofouling on aquaculture infrastructure increases fuel and maintenance costs for the aquaculture industry. Current methods to prevent biofouling do not fully prevent organism attachment or use chemicals that are toxic to biofouling organisms as well as other marine life. Cellulose nanofiber (CNF) is a non-toxic material that has recently become…

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Wild Alaria Under Water

Waste Reduction in Extraction of Macroalgal Polysaccharides

Some seaweeds may be harvested that are not suitable for sale to the food market, either because of contamination, biofouling, or aesthetic flaws. One way to derive value from such harvests could be to use the seaweed as a source of extracted compounds, such as polysaccharides, which have valuable properties for nutritional, chemical, and material appli…

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aquaculture rafts

Ecological Methods to Prevent Biofouling of Aquaculture Infrastructure

Marine biofouling on aquaculture infrastructure increases fuel and maintenance costs for the aquaculture industry. Current methods to prevent biofouling do not fully prevent organism attachment or use chemicals that are toxic to biofouling organisms as well as other marine life. New methods are needed to effectively prevent biofouling in an ecological m…

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Aquaculture Lease Hearing and Conflicts Analysis

The project’s goal is to measure and explain historical variations in social acceptance of and conflict over aquaculture as a means of understanding social carrying capacity and social sustainability of the social-ecological system. The main data source is the Department of Marine Resources (DMR) lease hearing documents, which provide an overview…

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oyster babies

Assessment of Oyster Production in Maine and New England

The current study evaluates the production efficiency of New England’s oyster aquaculture industry. A mixed mode survey has been designed and implemented to collect information from oyster growers in the region. This survey was sent to 530 oyster farming businesses located throughout Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Growers were asked about…

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Consumer and Citizen Knowledge, Practice, Attitudes

Consumer demand for products is often the driving force behind innovation; however, lack of consumer demand or product boycotts may force closure of existing markets. Maine seafood currently enjoys a widespread consumer base; however, the knowledge, preferences and attitudes of consumers towards Maine seafood products produced by aquaculture is currentl…

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Perceptions of Aquaculture Among Citizen Scientists

Knowing how storm surge behaves in estuaries can help communities better locate aquaculture farms, as well as design aquaculture-inspired adaptation measures (e.g., kelp “curtains”) to protect infrastructure. To date, researchers have relied on models to represent idealized scenarios of storm surge behavior; however, without observations to…

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Homes in Maine

Assessing the Economic Impact of Aquaculture on Real Estate Values

Social acceptance has been shown to be a major component in slowing the growth of the U.S. marine aquaculture industry. One of the principal concerns, one that is frequently heard during lease hearings, is that property values will be adversely affected if a nearby aquaculture farm is allowed to develop. Unfortunately, there are few, if any, analyses of…

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Collaborative Preferences Survey and Interviews

In recent years, there has been considerable growth in collaborative research, stemming from the need for solutions to grapple with complex societal problems. The need to improve the scientific basis for decision-making and sustainability science elevates the role of research collaborations and communication among scientists and stakeholders in developi…

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Arctic Surf Clam Growth and Valuation

Clam harvest epitomizes the problem of collective action in common pool resource settings. Open access to a subtractable resource can lead to overfishing. Municipalities with shellfish ordinances approved by the state can control access to the resource by implementing access rules and they can increase the resource through conservation work, including r…

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oyster

Learning, Information Sharing, and Adoption of Aquaculture in Maine

This project contributes understanding regarding vulnerabilities, assets, networks and perceptions as they relate to the adoption of sustainable ecological aquaculture in Maine. Researchers aim to understand the factors that lead to the adoption of aquaculture in Maine, including how farmers learn and share information. The project examines adoption via…

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Green crab

Green Crab Interaction with Softshell Clams

The primary focus of this project was to determine the effects of green crab predation on soft shell clams in Biddeford Pool. By using an experimental design for field-based manipulation of predator exclusion, the results of green crab predation on soft shell clams were quantified through survivorship rates between several different experimental scenari…

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checking seaweed lines on mussel raft

Economic Contribution of Maine’s Aquaculture Industry

This project examined the economic contribution of Maine’s aquaculture industry. The analysis was based on data collected from a survey conducted by the University of Maine Aquaculture Research Institute, Maine Aquaculture Association, and Maine Aquaculture Innovation Center. Data from the survey along with an economic impact model for the state o…

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Attenuating Waves with Kelp Farms

Coastal cities are vulnerable to risks associated with storms. Typical storm surge and wave damage includes beach erosion, flooding, and impairment of coastal infrastructure. Often hard engineering structures are used to mitigate these influences, though they have adverse impacts to adjacent coastlines and can viewed unfavorably by society. Soft (or gre…

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Developing Value-Added Products from Green Crab

The overall goal of this project is to develop value-added products from invasive green crabs. Researchers are working on identifying and extracting functional ingredients and/or bioactive proteins and compounds from green crab biomass that would identify the crab as a useful species. Specific goals for green crab research: To develop appropriate method…

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Maine Ocean

Environmental Change and Water Level Variability

Predictions of the impact of environmental change include increased storm intensity and frequency. To date, most research has focused on studying storm surge. Researchers have typically relied on models to represent idealized scenarios of storm surge behavior; however, without observations to capture how storm surge behaves inside an estuary, actual eff…

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kelp and dulse mix

Nutrient Compositional Analysis of Seaweed Samples

Seaweeds are known to be able to absorb excess nutrients from the water in which they grow. Waste water effluents in Maine (and elsewhere) often carry excessively high levels of nutrients, which cause eutrophication of the ecosystem. Thus, growing seaweeds in effluent affected waters may help to reduce the effects of eutrophication. The objective of thi…

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Kelp Farm

Ecological Interactions of Shellfish Aquaculture

Most existing shellfish aquaculture models have been developed for and implemented at the production or farm scale, neglecting all trophic levels equal to or higher than bivalves. This approach is useful on a farm scale, but is shortsighted for ecosystem management where several user groups may depend on the stability and sustainability of the entire sy…

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Algae at Darling Marine Center

Sources of Nitrogen Utilized by Macroalgae: How Clean is your Kelp?

Coastal seaweed aquaculture is an emerging industry in Maine with the potential to create jobs, produce highly nutritious ocean foods, sustain working waterfronts, and continue Maine’s maritime heritage into the 21st century. Globally, seaweed aquaculture is a $7 billion industry. With Maine’s extensive coastline, a recent market analysis ha…

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Kelp Farming

Assessment of Indicator Bacteria within the Surface Biofilm of Sugar Kelp (Saccharina Latissima) Along a Seaward Gradient in from the Mouth of the Saco River

This project seeks to determine the relationship between fecal indicator bacteria present in seawater and those found on the surface biofilm of kelp. Five experimental sugar kelp stations have been established, running along east-west and north-south transects moving away from the mouth of the Saco River. Stations were established in May 2016 and a four…

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Hydrodynamic Impacts of Expanding Aquaculture

It is projected that the demand for aquacultured seafood is going to increase, which presents an economic opportunity to expand aquaculture production in Maine. Many studies show that aquaculture farms reduce tidal current magnitude at the surface and bottom, which impacts nutrient and waste transport. Without considering the impact of a farm on flow, a…

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Oyster Girl boat on the water

Assessment of Aquaculture Structure Resilience to Environmental Change

Aquaculturists operating in several Maine bays have developed infrastructures for cultivating and harvesting of species of interest (Atlantic salmon, American oysters, kelp and blue mussels) based largely on conventional wisdom and experience, as well as customizing ideas and technology from elsewhere. From today’s perspective, such developments s…

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sugar kelp line

Development of a Process Approach for Retaining Seaweed (Sugar Kelp) Nutrients

Maine has various companies that harvest sugar kelp from the North Atlantic Ocean. However, sugar kelp is typically dehydrated/dried and processed to preserve it for off-season use or for various value-added products. The current practices of drying and processing sugar kelp in Maine are sub-optimal. Optimizing drying parameters (temperature and humidit…

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Heather Hamlin in the lab

Invertebrate Aquaculture in a Changing Global Environment

Project personnel are assessing the effects of increasing ocean temperatures and acidification on calciferous invertebrates to understand how environmental changes can alter the health and physiology of aquaculture species. Many of the physiological measurements and assessments are hampered by small sizes, therefore, researchers are using the American l…

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Temperature Tolerance in Alaria

Sea surface warming attributable to climate change is a key consideration when selecting candidate sea vegetable crop species in Maine. Researchers are investigating the temperature tolerance of edible kelp along the Maine shore to determine the effects of thermal acclimation on seedstock and crop yield. Project personnel collected zoospores and grew up…

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Environmental Impact on Razor Clams

The razor clam (Ensis directus) has been identified as a potential candidate for commercial aquaculture operations in New England and has been successfully grown on a small scale in Maine. The literature available for this species includes many of the basic areas of research in aquaculture such as reproduction and feeding rates. For grow-out operations…

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Oyster at Aquaculture Boot Camp

Population Genetics in Natural Bed Oysters in the Damariscotta Estuary

MSX is a disease of the Eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) caused by the protozoan parasite Haplosporidium nelsoni. It has caused high mortalities and considerable economic impact to East Coast oyster fisheries. In 2010, an outbreak of MSX occurred in the commercial oyster operations of the Damariscotta River estuary resulting in oyster mortalities…

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Green crab

Examining the Threat of an Invasive Species on Shellfish Aquaculture

Green crabs are the model species for an invasive organism. Green crabs have a major impact on Maine’s ecosystems both economically, predating many aquacultured organisms (such as soft shelled clams), and environmentally, by destroying salt marshes and infrastructure by burrowing under moorings, quays, etc. Green crabs are highly successful in Mai…

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Impact of Shellfish Aquaculture on Benthic-Pelagic Coupling

Polychaete worms and other infaunal species residing in marine sediments create bioturbation (mixing and overturn of sediments) through their feeding, tube-building, burrowing and ventilating activities. These activities influence nutrient fluxes between the sediments and overlying water, and the composition of sedimentary communities. Changes in organi…

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Coastal Acidification Effects on Bivalve Aquaculture

To better understand the threat of ocean acidification (OA) to shellfish production, an OA laboratory that can simulate past, present, and future marine carbonate chemistry conditions is being constructed at the University of Maine, Darling Marine Center. Using this apparatus, laboratory experiments will be conducted to examine how the expected shifts i…

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Algae at Darling Marine Center

Detritus as Nutritional Supplement for Bivalves

A key factor in determining the environmental carrying capacity for sustainable ecological aquaculture (SEA) is determining the quantity and quality of seston present in Saco Bay. This baseline data is being collected by SEANET through the use of a buoy networks, field surveys, and laboratory analyses. This project aims to address the environmental carr…

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Develop Organism Growth Model of Secondary Production Utilizing Forcing Functions of Biophysical Data from Buoys, Sensors, Water Samples, and Transects

The growth rates of filter-feeding bivalves (mussels, oysters, and clams) respond to fluctuations in temperature, salinity, food availability, and food composition, as realized in near shore environments. This project will utilize historical data, data from the buoy network, sample data, and FVCOM model results as inputs for a shellfish growth model. Th…

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Social-Ecological System Framework Development

Given its commitment to multidisciplinary research, SEANET researchers are developing a Social-Ecological Systems (SES) framework to provide basic vocabulary and a conceptual view of the system necessary to enable communication of research goals and data, and to more generally organize and guide the diverse research directions being undertaken across th…

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Katie Perry

Species Specific Stable Isotope Fractionation Baseline between Oysters and Algae

Stable isotopes are a common technique for understanding predator-prey interactions and food web dynamics. Stable isotope 15N is enriched with increasing trophic levels while stable isotope 13C remains relatively consistent across trophic levels. When these two isotopes are considered together, it can indicate predator-prey interactions in a food web. T…

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kelp bed near island

Formation of Kelp and Marsh Grass Detritus as Potential Shellfish Nutrition

Most models assume bivalve shellfish to be the equivalent of “aquatic cows,” grazing almost exclusively on standing stocks of phytoplankton and algae. However, cultured bivalve species have an exceptional capacity to filter large volumes of water containing not only phytoplankton, but also zooplankton, detritus, and other suspended particula…

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oyster babies

Detritus Formation, Utilization by Bivalves, and Deposition

Project personnel are studying the role of detritus formation and its role in the support of bivalve aquaculture. Researchers are combining innovative methods of chemical analysis, based on enzymatic hydrolyzability, for detritus food quality with biological measures of feeding, growth, and deposition. Researchers are working in estuaries that do or may…

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Buoy Monitoring Program and Transect Sampling

The buoy networks consist of two land/ocean biogeochemical observation (LOBO) buoys, one Gulf of Maine Observing Buoy, and a suite of small sensors, which are deployed at two study sites per year. Each network is deployed for a year to collect environmental data during the full course of a growing season. The buoy networks are moved in subsequent y…

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sugar kelp line

Mitigating Storm Surge using Kelp Farms

The objective of the project is to assess the value of seaweed and kelp farms to mitigate storm damage. High resolution coastal wave models are being developed. The effect of kelp and kelp farms on hydrodynamics is being investigated and incorporated into the wave models. The model results with and without kelp farms are being used to identify kelp farm…

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