How does citizen science support your research?
Citizen science is an important tool for research in the partnership between the Schoodic Institute and Acadia National Park, because it not only has the potential to expand our data collection efforts for existing projects for advancing ecosystem science, but also fulfills the parallel component of our mission by helping to develop understanding of science for folks all ages. To date, citizen-collected data has contributed by documenting bird migration patterns and changes in habitat for several species guilds, helping to establish a study on the effects of ocean acidification on intertidal, and, moving forward, providing the field labor force necessary to intensively sample the long-term plots that will be a cornerstone of our emerging forest ecology program.
What do you enjoy most/what is most interesting about researching climate change in Acadia?
For nearly a decade my work has focused on climate change and conservation issues across North America and the expanding field of climate change adaptation for natural resources, that is, using the research outputs to plan for those changes for ecosystems and the humans that depend on them. Acadia National Park and the surrounding region make it veritable hotbed of potential climate change research questions. The park lands fall within the transition zone between the boreal (to the north)-temperate (to the south) forest. Such transitions are largely driven by climate and, thus, all aspects of biodiversity may be affected in significant ways. Interestingly, boreal-type forests of the Down East coast (and in ANP) served as a refugium, or a place of little change in forest type, during a warm period several thousand years ago when tree species shifted across much of New England. And, while by itself the terrestrial setting raises lots of exciting science questions, this coupled with the fact the park is coastal, offering an entirely distinct and extensive research agenda around sea level rise, ocean acidification, and changes in storm patterns and strength. Finally, there is the people piece within and outside the park, with an intricately linked but additional suite of climate change related implications.
What is one of your favorite moments in the field?
One of my favorite moments in the field was flying over the Kobuk River drainage in northern Alaska looking for field sites for tree ring samples. There are dune fields in the Kobuk River drainage relics from past glacial periods. From the air you could see the varying stages of the forest establishment (black and white spruce) on and the wind-created patterns of the dunes. Some dunes are still actively moving. Black and white spruce are also found in the forests of the mainland and islands in Acadia National Park, a continent away.