Biodiversity Monitoring: Schoodic Institute staff and citizen scientists of all ages (and you, too!) help document animals, plants, fungi, and lichens using the applications iNaturalist and eBird, providing data that scientists analyze to understand Acadia’s changing environment.
Hawk Watch: From late August through October each year, Seth Benz and a cadre of dedicated volunteers, along with Acadia National Park rangers, count eagles, hawks, falcons, and other birds as they pass over Cadillac Mountain during fall migration. Visitors are welcome!
Sea Watch: Each fall, Seth Benz and volunteers monitor the migration of thousands of sea birds from Schoodic Point. Counting takes place during early morning hours from September through mid-November. Visitors are welcome!
Schoodic Notes: Laura Sebastianelli, a professional wildlife tracker and trained sound recordist, works with Seth Benz and volunteers each June to record the calls and songs of breeding birds. Due to campus construction in 2023 Laura will be recording on Mount Desert Island only.
Landscape of Change is a collaborative project to compare historic records with contemporary data to understand climate-related changes in the Mount Desert Island environment. Catherine Schmitt is the primary contact for this collaboration with Mount Desert Island Historical Society, Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory, A Climate to Thrive, College of the Atlantic, and Acadia National Park.
Schoodic Signals: With support from the Schoodic Community Fund, we seek to engage area residents and visitors in documenting biodiversity of the Schoodic Peninsula, with a focus on specific species that can indicate a changing climate.
Climate Change Refugia: We survey for plants at the southern extent of their range to learn if relatively cool, foggy Schoodic Point provides “refugia” – areas where climate is not changing as much or as fast as the surrounding region.
Cross-System Subsidies: Hannah Webber, research intern Abby Omaña, technicians, Earthwatch volunteers, and visitors measure the “subsidy” of marine nutrients delivered by birds and mammals, such as mink and otter, feeding on mussels, crabs, and sea urchins at the forest edge on Big Moose, Little Moose, and Pond islands. Understanding such connections helps us maintain and protect wildlife habitat in Acadia.
Jonah Crab Monitoring: In late summer, Jonah crabs begin appearing in the intertidal zone. It is not clear if this is a natural phenomenon or the result of disease or changing water conditions. Hannah Webber, Shannon O’Brien, and technicians count and measure crabs along the shore of West Pond.
Sea Level Rise Monitoring: Initiated in 2019 as part of the project, Communicating Nor’easter Vulnerability in National Parks, monitoring of tides, erosion, and sea level rise expanded in 2022.
Soft Sediment Biodiversity: Hannah Webber and Scientists in Parks Interns, working with NPS, the Maine Department of Marine Resources, and local worm harvesters, sample mudflats around Acadia to understand patterns of biodiversity and measure change in marine worm populations over time.
Project ASCO (Assessing Seaweed via Community Observations) gets volunteers out into the intertidal zone to collect data about rockweed (Ascophyllum nodosum, or “Asco”), the dominant species along most of Maine’s rocky coast. Rockweed is currently harvested in Maine and sustainable management requires knowledge of the total amount of rockweed throughout the state. Participants in Project ASCO are helping to answer the question, ”How much rockweed is there?”
Rockweed Mapping: There’s no knowledge at present of how much rockweed there is along the coast of Maine. This makes it hard to manage for a sustainable harvest. Hannah Webber leads our partnership with Nearview, LLC, Maine Maritime Academy, and Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences to develop methods to map, measure, and monitor rockweed using remote sensing (drone imagery). The field site is Porter Preserve in Boothbay.
Coastal Vegetation Spectral Library: Hannah Webber leads our partnership with Maine Maritime Academy, Nearview LLC, Maine Natural History Observatory, Maine Natural Areas Program, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, York Land Trust, and Reid State Park to create a library of coastal vegetation spectra (color or reflected light that is measured by drones) for better resource management.
Ocean Acidification: Every year the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Park Service collect water samples from the shore and from the deeper ocean to understand how the chemistry of coastal waters is changing with a changing climate. We collect samples from around Acadia to support this essential monitoring effort.
Northeastern Coastal Stations Alliance: Schoodic Institute is a member of the Northeastern Coastal Stations Alliance to study patterns of change across the Gulf of Maine. Hannah Webber and technicians collect data using standardized methods once per season.
Extreme Climate & Trees: A tree test bed on the lawn by Wright Hall is part of an experiment by Nick Fisichelli and Jay Wason of UMaine to study how tree regeneration in the Northern Forest will respond to extreme drought and heat events. Jay and graduate student Laura Pinover will visit the test bed to collect data several times throughout the summer and fall.
Future Forests of Coastal Maine is a series of tree growth experiments at four conservation areas spanning a range of climate conditions, in partnership with Blue Hill Heritage Trust, Coastal Mountains Land Trust, and Waldo County Soil & Water Conservation District. Nick Fisichelli and technicians measure growth and survival of planted trees twice per season.
Wild Acadia: In partnership with the National Park Service and Friends of Acadia, we are helping the park implement the new “Resist-Accept-Direct” approach, co-authored by Nick Fisichelli, while restoring and managing resources in three areas of the park. Chris Nadeau and Alex Cisneros Carey lead a specialized team of restoration technicians working in Bass Harbor Marsh, Great Meadow Wetland, and Summits, where experiments continue to determine the best way to restore soil and plants to Cadillac and other mountains given changing climate conditions.
Great Meadow Soil Seed Bank Project: How will the vegetation in Acadia’s wetlands be altered by changing precipitation patterns? Chris Nadeau, in partnership with the National Park Service and College of the Atlantic, is growing plants from soil cores collected in two wetlands in Acadia under wet and dry conditions to answer this question.
Sustainable Summits Project: Chris Nadeau, in partnership with the National Park Service and Northeastern University, leads a project to evaluate if planting plants from warmer locations can help summit restorations persist under climate change.
Dragonfly Mercury Project: Initiated by Schoodic Institute in 2007, this project now engages people in national parks and other public lands across the United States to understand the spatial distribution of mercury pollution. Technicians sample dragonfly larvae at several locations in the park.
Northeast Temperate Network: Schoodic Institute-supported crews with the National Park Service Northeast Temperate Network continue long-term monitoring of birds, forests, intertidal, and wetland health.