On October 1 , 2014, Schoodic Institute hosted the Acadia National Park Science Symposium that highlighted research being done in and around the National Park with a focus on "our understanding of rapid environmental change." Speakers included Esperanza Stancioff, an Extension Educator with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, Abe Miller-Rushing, Science Coordinator at Acadia National Park and a member of the National Park Service, Bob Page with the National Park Service's Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation, Jasmine Saros, a University of Maine Climate Change Institute researcher who has been monitoring Jordan Pond in Acadia, and Elizabeth Wolkovich, a researcher with Harvard University who focuses on phenology. Additional projects were highlighted during two poster sessions.
Esperanza summarized the work of an interdisciplinary team and the town of Ellsworth to address storm water overflow and infrastructure vulnerability; an issue with ecological and economic ramifications if climate change predictions that Maine will experience more extreme rainfall events are realized. MPBN highlighted the project through a short documentary, "Culvert Operations."
During lunch, people were invited to collect phenology data for Acadia's monitoring program. The data are used to track changes in individual plants, but also to better understand how data collected by citizen scientists can be utilized. Park staff have also setup wildlife cameras at their phenology monitoring sites to capture footage of species interactions and couple bird behavior with plant phenology data. Shifts in the timing of different events like flowering or the production of fruit can have major implications for other species that might rely on that plant for a food source. For example, flowering and fruiting may be shifting earlier in the season due to warming temperatures, yet the timing of bird migration is not shifting at the same rate so migrating birds may miss a critical food source as they migrate to their seasonal nesting or wintering grounds. Elizabeth Wolkovich is researching how changes in temperature and phenology may give exotic species the competitive advantage of native plant species.
The science symposium was an inspiring event, and I am looking forward to collaborating with these speakers and researchers as we continue to grow and develop the field station's research agenda on Hurricane!