Sign up here to join the Landscape of Change project

To understand how climate change is affecting Acadia National Park, we need to look to the past. We can recognize changes to plant and animal populations, shorelines, weather, and migration patterns over time by comparing historic observations with current data. Knowing which species or ecosystems are changing and how fast provides important information needed to make decisions about how to resist, adapt to, or direct these changes.

Landscape of Change is a collaborative project to publish and compile historic records on birds, pollinators, water temperature, sea levels, and weather, with the goal of identifying trends in the Acadia region.

Eight members of the Champlain Society, holding objects that indicate their “scientific specialty,” sit across a waterfall near the mouth of Hadlock Brook in 1881. Photo by Marshall Slade, used courtesy of the Mount Desert Island Historical Society.

Acadia National Park has a rich legacy of scientific activity. The Mount Desert Island Historical Society cares for an important collection of historic natural history notes recorded by a group of students from Harvard known as the Champlain Society. These students spent a decade in the 1880s exploring island ecosystems and documenting their findings. The first three summer camp logs of the C.S. were published as the 2021 Chebacco, edited by Schoodic Institute science communication specialist Catherine Schmitt.

With a goal to use Champlain Society notes and other historical data as a baseline from which to measure changes seen today, the Historical Society joined with Schoodic Institute, College of the Atlantic, the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory,  A Climate to Thrive, and Acadia National Park to create a story map representing 140 years of data related to these topics, including observations of birds, bees, butterflies, and moths made by members of the Champlain Society in the 1880s and William Procter and other scientists in the early 1900s. Insects are a big category, so this study is focused on pollinators (bees, butterflies, moths) with a plan to expand into other species and datasets as time allows.

Related activities include

With support from private donations, Schoodic Institute is leading the citizen science and data management aspects of Landscape of Change. This project is an example of how we work with the National Park Service to share information related to science in the park and stories about science past and present, as well as how we provide opportunities for people of all ages to participate in science programs in Acadia National Park and also regionally, nationally, and internationally.

Want to join us? Sign up here to receive updates and participate in data collection. For more information, contact Catherine Schmitt, cschmitt@schoodicinstitute.org.

Explore the story map and data: