October Science Symposium Shares Park Research

The 2016 Acadia National Park Science Symposium was held at Schoodic Institute on Wednesday, October 5, 2016. This year’s symposium was attended by over 100 researchers, students, and park staff, and offered opportunities to discuss science and the latest research taking place in and beyond park boundaries.  The symposium featured five invited speakers and 45 posters describing results and plans for research in a range of disciplines, including natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities.

Speakers included Michelle Baumflek, Virginia Tech, and Suzanne Greenlaw, University of Maine – Wabanaki plant gathering in Acadia National Park; Fred Bianchi, Worcester Polytechnic Institute – Creativity at the intersection of science, technology, and society; Andrew Pershing, Gulf of Maine Research Institute – Climate lessons from the rapidly warming Gulf of Maine; and Rick Bonney, Cornell Lab of Ornithology – The emergence and future of public engagement in science.

Stephanie Toothman, Julia Washburn, and Tim Watkins, of the National Park Service offered a panel discussion on the vision for the future of science and science communication in national parks. The symposium schedule allowed morning and afternoon poster sessions.  Scientists and researchers shared and discussed collaborative work in Acadia.

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Schoodic Institute Field Technician, Elizabeth Orcutt discusses Ant Biodiversity.

Ants perform many critical functions in forested ecosystems-they eat other insects, move nutrients, increase turnover in the soil, and distribute seeds. Diversity of ant species on the Schoodic Peninsula is not yet well studied. The purpose of this study is to determine what ant species are found around select American Mountain Ash (Sorbus americana) trees on the Schoodic Education and Research Center campus on the Schoodic peninsula.

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Schoodic Institute Bird Ecology Program Director, Seth Benz highlights waterbird migration efforts.

Since 2011, Schoodic Institute in Acadia National Park’s “SeaWatch” has counted the autumn coastal migration of southbound waterbirds such as loons, grebes, cormorants, gannets, ducks, geese, gulls, terns, and other birds. This poster presents results and details of the migration monitoring effort which begins in late August and continues into November each year.

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Schoodic Institute Education and Project Manager, Hannah Webber and Field Technician, Nichole Gallup along with Seth Benz presented a poster on the use of iNaturalist in Acadia National Park.

iNaturalist is a website and phone application, that curates observations people make of the natural world – mammals, insects, vegetation et cetera – along with the observation’s GPS location. iNaturalist allows for a community of naturalists – casual and skilled observers, as well as expert and novice identifiers, to share observations and aid in identifying the observations. This community contributes to a large, expansive, multifaceted data source that is accessible to anyone. For National Parks knowing which plants, animals or fungi are present within their borders is important. The knowledge allows for parks to better manage their resources.

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Proceedings of the 2016 Acadia National Park Science Symposium are available here. Click HERE to view and download up to 45 research projects describing results and plans for research in a range of disciplines, including natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities. The Integrated Resource Management Applications (IRMA) Portal provides easy access to National Park Service applications that manage and deliver resource information to parks, partners and the public.