WINTER HARBOR – Three scientists have been awarded fellowships to conduct research in Acadia National Park as part of Second Century Stewardship, an initiative of the National Park Service, Schoodic Institute at Acadia National Park and the National Park Foundation.
The new awards will support research to inform management of forests, wetlands, wildlife and cultural resources in Acadia, as well as supporting public engagement with park science.
The 2022 Second Century Stewardship Fellows are:
- Matthew Duveneck, Liberal Arts Faculty at New England Conservatory and Research Associate, Harvard Forest
- Nicole Kollars, Postdoctoral Researcher at Northeastern University
- Richard Vachula, Assistant Professor at Auburn University
Like many national parks, Acadia is experiencing rapid changes including warming temperatures, shifts in plant and animal populations, and altered weather patterns. The impacts of these changes are not fully understood, challenging the National Park Service to manage and protect both natural and cultural resources.
“We’re seeing many changes happening to Acadia, such as heavy rain events washing away trails and carriage roads, and invasive species changing park ecosystems. Second Century Stewardship fellows are leading science to help managers navigate these changes and communicate with the public to increase understanding and support for science and stewardship,” said Kevin Schneider, Superintendent of Acadia National Park.
“This year’s cohort of fellows exemplify the breadth of research in Acadia. They will be studying the past, present, and future through evidence of wildfire preserved for thousands of years, the genetic makeup of present-day invasive species, and computer modeling of the future forest,” said Nicholas Fisichelli, Schoodic Institute President and CEO.
Schoodic Institute has awarded 18 fellowships for research in Acadia since 2016, when David Evans Shaw founded Second Century Stewardship at the centennial of the National Park System. Research fellowships combine the creativity and skill of scientists with integrated science communication training and public engagement opportunities unique to national parks. The results are innovative science applied to the greatest management issues facing parks, and a more engaged public supporting science and stewardship.
Second Century Stewardship is led by Schoodic Institute at Acadia National Park, a nonprofit partner of the National Park Service and a leader in the science and stories of environmental change in Acadia and beyond. Schoodic Institute’s approach to research, learning, science communication and engagement has been integrated with the efforts of more than 50 units and programs of the National Park System.
Proposals for 2023 Fellowship Awards are due October 31, 2022.
More about the fellows and their research:
Matthew Duveneck will use a recent model of forest change and refine it to 30 meter resolution to reduce uncertainties about how climate change, insects, land use, and other disturbances will interact and shape Acadia’s future forests. Park staff will help Duvenick incorporate details about Acadia’s local soils, trees, and climate, and identify different management scenarios for the model to simulate. Together they will address questions such as the fate of red spruce, which is threatened by warming temperatures, and eastern hemlock’s vulnerability to the woolly adelgid insect pest.
Nicole Kollars will sample the leaves and seeds of an invasive plant, glossy buckthorn, to identify which populations have the highest genetic diversity, and may be more adaptable to changing conditions. Though park staff remove acres of glossy buckthorn each year—an expensive and labor-intensive effort—the plant can re-invade previously cleared areas because its long-lived seeds remain in the soil and are easily dispersed by wildlife. Kollars will identify which populations are primarily contributing to the glossy buckthorn spread, which will allow managers to target intervention strategies. This research will also serve as a case study of using genetic information to manage plant populations.
Richard Vachula plans to core the bottom of Sargent Mountain Pond in Acadia National Park and measure the charcoal particles preserved within its layers to reconstruct wildfire history over the last 16,000 years. Past fires in Acadia include wildfires, cultural use of fire, and accidental fire including the Fire of 1947 that burned more 14,000 acres. The last comprehensive assessment of fire history in the park was over forty years ago, but a rapidly changing climate is raising new concerns about the future of fire. Vachula will analyze how wildfire responded to past climate changes to understand potential for current and future fire in Acadia.