Students to present results of research on forest and intertidal ecology in Downeast Maine

Students from Sumner Memorial High School have been conducting research on forest and intertidal ecology in Sullivan and on Schoodic Peninsula. The students will be presenting their findings at a poster session at Sumner Memorial High School on Thursday, May 4 from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. for an audience of scientists, resource managers, parents, teachers, and the public. For the past year, the Schoodic Institute at Acadia National Park, working in cooperation with the Pathways program at Sumner, has engaged high school students in participatory research projects in which students ask research questions, collect samples, and analyze their own data.

Students graph preliminary data in preparation for presenting research on May 4 at Sumner Memorial High School. Hannah Webber photo.

Some students worked at sites in Frenchman Bay Conservancy’s Baker Hill Preserve—particularly at a forest gap where some time ago all the trees were knocked down, creating an opening in the forest canopy.

“Trees are long lived and thus forests can seem to be static, unchanging places,” says Nick Fisichelli, Director of Forest Ecology at Schoodic. “However, forests do change and looking in the right places at the right times can yield insights into forest dynamics. The work the Pathways students are doing with me will give us clues to how local forests may look in the future.”

The remainder of the students worked at Frazer Point and Arey Cove on the Schoodic Peninsula, collecting and looking at microscopic animals that live on rockweed. “The intertidal, the rockweed zone in particular, is a critical habitat for a number of commercially important animals. By studying changes in prey species for those larger animals we’re filling in the rockweed food web picture,” says Hannah Webber, intertidal specialist at Schoodic.

Bill Zoellick, Director of Education Research at Schoodic Institute, adds, “The work that these students are doing is not only helping Schoodic Institute with its long-term ecological research, but is also enabling us to explore new ways of connecting our work to the communities where we live that go beyond just talking about research. Here the students have been contributors and collaborators on the research team.”

This project is supported by Davis Family Foundation, the Morton Kelly Charitable Trust, and the Maine Timberlands Charitable Trust.

The poster session is open to the public.