Cross-ecosystem subsidies in Acadia National Park: Importance of emergent aquatic insects on riparian bird diversity, abundance, and mercury exposure

Allyson loves birds and wants to help birds hurt by pollution. She spent her dissertation studying how mercury pollution flows through avian food webs and found that she really needed to learn more about the bugs that the birds were eating. With the Fellowship, she wants to understand how much riparian birds in Acadia rely on emergent aquatic insects as a food source and how mercury pollution can turn these insects into a dangerously contaminated meal. An important part of this story is about how the birds and insects change through the summer, which will also provide valuable information about emergent insect phenology. She has already started working with National Park Service staff to discuss how her work might improve management, policy, and communication related to mercury pollution in parks. This project works to bring the excitement of science and the reality of an invisible contaminant like mercury to a variety of groups. Over the course of the 2018 summer, seven undergraduates from Purchase College in New York will be working on this project, gaining real field experience and also seeing Acadia for the first time. Additionally, she has recruited dozens of citizen scientists to join her field crew to help collect data and track changes in bugs throughout June and July. These citizen scientists include Acadia Teacher Fellows, who are gaining valuable experiences doing authentic, important science that they can bring with them back to the classroom.

ANP Science Symposium 2018

Watch Allyson Jackson’s presentation HERE.