The Darling Marine Center, located on the edge of the Damariscotta River estuary, is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
The center was opened in 1965 after Ira C. Darling, a retired Chicago insurance executive, donated 127 acres of farmland to the University of Maine with the purpose of establishing a marine laboratory.
Today, 50 people occupy the center year-round, including faculty, staff and students. The center invites alumni and members of the community to celebrate its half-century birthday with events, tours and seminars.
To kick off the celebrations, the center will host “Wednesday Walking Tours” which will run for the months of July and August at 10:30 a.m. at the DMC. Staff will give a walking tour of their waterfront laboratories and speak about current research projects focusing on lobster ecology and fisheries management, shellfish aquaculture, remote sensing, coastal food webs and ocean acidification. The tour is open to the public and will last approximately 90 minutes.
Four talks will follow as part of the “Science on Tap Seminar” series, which will take place from 6–7 p.m. at the Newcastle Publick House.
The following describes the focus of each talk:
- July 8: “Some lasting effects of fisheries on Maine’s hidden kelp forests”
Bob Steneck, School of Marine Sciences and Darling Marine Center
- July 15: “Spying on our oceans with satellites and robots”
Mary Jane Perry, interim director, Darling Marine Center
- July 22: “Shellfish aquaculture: Job creation, tasty bivalves and some cool science too”
Carter Newell, Pemaquid Oyster Company, Pemaquid Mussel Farms
- July 29: “Darling worms: A rich legacy of polychaete research”
Pete Jumars, School of Marine Sciences and Darling Marine Center
Additional events include an Alumni Day on Thursday, Aug. 6 which will feature a Damariscotta River cruise, lobster bake and campfire entertainment. The following day, the center will host a UMaine Celebration Day. These two events are by invitation only and participants should register by July 24 at dmc.umaine.edu.
The final event — Darling Marine Center Open House — will consist of activities for all ages and will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 8. Staff will lead participants throughout the facilities to meet the plants and animals that share Maine’s shores and learn the tools and techniques used in the field of marine science.
Contact: Amanda Clark, 207.581.3721
Detecting invasive lake and river species using just a water sample would be a dream come true for wildlife managers and regulators in the state. And University of Maine researchers may soon make this an inexpensive reality.
Michael Kinnison, professor of evolutionary applications at the University of Maine, realized the need for an early invasive species detection system that would be more sensitive, require less specialized training and labor by field staff, present little to no threat to non-targeted species, and could be implemented at a fraction of the cost of current detection approaches.
The method now typically used for detecting the presence of invasive species is word of mouth from anglers and other concerned members of the public, followed by many hours of netting, angling and electrofishing by state biologists, says Kinnison.
Many times, reports go unverified until fish are abundant enough to be regularly caught. Current methods also are unlikely to detect the presence of invasive juveniles before they are large enough to be caught by anglers and biologists.
Kinnison is leading a project to adapt emerging environmental DNA (eDNA) approaches to detect the presence of invasive species, and other aquatic species, in Maine waters. Environmental DNA detection targets species-specific DNA material shed by aquatic organisms when they die, defecate or shed skin cells. That DNA can last up to several weeks in surrounding waters and be detected in water samples.
The pilot portion of this project, funded by the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund, includes use of water samples to describe the extent of invasive northern pike, Esox lucius, in the Penobscot River system.
“This technology has the potential to greatly enhance detection of many aquatic species by providing a much more sensitive and cost-effective approach than current field survey approaches,” he says.
According to the Maine Inland Fisheries & Wildlife Department, Northern Pike was illegally introduced into the Belgrade Chain of Lakes in the 1970s. Today, they are present in at least 16 lakes in the Kennebec, Androscoggin, and coastal river drainages and are suspected in several other locations. Managers have traced the introduction of species such as pike from illegal transport or by out-migration from lakes where they have become established. Because pike are top predators, their introduction negatively impacts the state’s prized salmon populations.
Kinnison and ecology and environmental science graduate student Lauren Turinetti refined a quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) primer set, and fluorescent DNA binding probe, to detect a short but unique sequence of the northern pike DNA. The PCR amplification system turns a few original copies of pike DNA in a water sample into billions, and the fluorescent probe signals how many copies are made. Using this technique they have successfully detected pike DNA in water samples collected from Pushaw Lake in Penobscot County, Maine. The water samples they used were no bigger than a normal soda bottle (1 liter). They’re now working to refine their field sampling and detection approaches to implement a wider-scale survey for pike in the Penobscot drainage.
By collecting water samples throughout the drainage the investigators hope to obtain a snapshot of how far pike have spread in places where dam removals, passage projects and repairs have improved migration of anadromous species — but also may have inadvertently opened the door to pike, says Kinnison.
Further funding by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service State Wildlife Grants Program via the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife will allow Kinnison to expand this technique to other species of special concern, including imperiled native species.
This relatively quick and inexpensive method could help Maine combat its invasive species crisis and help managers more efficiently apply their limited resources to a diversity of conservation challenges, saving valuable resources for management of invasions from the start rather than detecting them when they’re already established.
The most widely referenced paper (Pimental et al. 2005) on this issue reports that invasive species costs the United States more than $120 billion in damages every year, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service. Invasive species are also a leading cause contributing to the demise of many threatened or endangered species.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has adopted eDNA early detection as a core component of its invasive Asian carp monitoring program in the Great Lakes region. In 2010 alone, the federal government spent $78.5 million to prevent the introduction of carp to the Great Lakes, where they would threaten Great Lakes fisheries and endangered aquatic species.
In the future, the researchers hope to fine tune the method so it will not only determine the presence of multiple species, but also abundance.
“Right now we are using quantitative PCR to detect single species, but with the developments that are occurring, we are probably not that far down the road from being able to detect and estimate the abundance of numerous species within the same water samples,” says Kinnison.
Contact: Amanda Clark, 207.581.3721
WLBZ (Channel 2) reported University of Maine marine scientist Heather Hamlin and colleagues discovered that certain plastic bags with FDA food-grade approval leach nonylphenol (NP) in concentrations that are highly toxic to fish. The researchers found one type of bag commonly used to transport fish home from pet stores released NP into the water that the fish would ingest, according to the report. The researchers said that in a little more than a week, the fish died, the report states. “In this one particular bag with this one particular manufacturer it was not safe, so it’s something in the manufacturing process,” Hamlin said. “So if you went to buy this particular bag off the shelf it would be labeled identically to other bags but it just happens to be highly unsafe.” Phys.org published the UMaine release.
Paul Mayewski has been named one of the 50 bold visionaries defining the state in the July issue of Maine magazine.
The director of the Climate Change Institute at the University of Maine was included in the third annual list for his four decades of exploration aimed at understanding “why and how the climate is changing so that society can be prepared for adaptation and sustainability.”
Mayewski, who has conducted research in Antarctica, the Arctic, Himalayas, Tibetan Plateau, Tierra del Fuego and the Andes, has earned a number of awards for his research, including the inaugural International Medal for Excellence in Antarctic Research and the International Glaciological Society Seligman Crystal.
His findings have been published in more than 350 scientific journals; two of his most popular books are “The Ice Chronicles: The Quest to Understand Global Climate Change” with Frank White and “Journey Into Climate: Adventure, Exploration, and the Unmasking of Human Innocence.”
Mayewski also was highlighted in Showtime’s Emmy Award-winning series “Years of Living Dangerously.”
The Bangor Daily News published the opinion piece, “How Maine showed marriage means the same to everyone,” by Amy Fried and Robert Glover, political science professors at the University of Maine and members of the Scholars Strategy Network. The piece originally appeared on Talking Points Memo.
The Bangor Daily News mentioned the University of Maine’s Stormwater Management Research Team (SMART) Institute in an article about Paige Brown, a 16-year-old Bangor High School student and program participant. Brown also delivered the keynote address at the three-day program that focused on creating innovative solutions to environmental problems related to stormwater management. Brown is the winner of the Maine Stockholm Junior Water Prize, a prestigious youth award for a water-related science project, and will represent Maine at this year’s national competition in Washington, D.C. Mohamad Musavi, associate dean of engineering at UMaine and one of the program’s organizers, spoke to the BDN about SMART. He said students in the program are expected to take what they learn back to their communities to continue studying stormwater issues and work with officials. “This is not like any other camp. This is just the beginning of the process for these students, and they’re going to be engaged in this for the entire year,” Musavi said.
The next Lexicon of Sustainability pop-up art show, sponsored by the University of Maine Office of Sustainability, is on display at Tiller & Rye, 20 South Main St., Brewer.
The exhibition, part of a national effort, is designed to spur community dialogue to help strengthen local food systems. Most recently, it was on display as part of the Bangor Artwalk.
The Lexicon of Sustainability, founded in 2009 by farmers and filmmakers Douglas Gayeton and Laura Howard-Gayeton, focuses on sharing stories that explain sustainability. Lexicon uses information artworks, pop-up shows, street art, short films series and other formats to educate and engage people to pay closer attention to how they eat, what they buy and where their responsibility begins for creating a healthier, safer food system in America. Nearly 200 leaders in food and farming from across the country have shared their experiences as part of Lexicon of Sustainability.
Annually, Lexicon offers 100 artwork sets to curators. The UMaine Office of Sustainability and the other 2015 curators each will organize at least five pop-up art shows that involve local communities, then will act as lending libraries to schools and community groups.
At UMaine, the Sustainability Office is collaborating in its shows with the Humanities Center and the Innovative Media Research and Commercialization Center (IMRC).
Neil Comins, a University of Maine professor of physics and astronomy, was a recent guest on the Maine Public Broadcasting Network’s “Maine Calling” radio show. The show, titled “News out of NASA,” focused on the latest NASA projects including the New Horizons mission as it closes in on Pluto after a 3 billion mile journey from Earth.
The Bangor Daily News reported the University of Maine football team will have six of its contests broadcast on television throughout the 2015 season. Three games will be shown nationally under the league’s television package and several will air on WVII-ABC 7 Bangor, the official Black Bear television affiliate. All broadcasts on WVII also will be shown on WPME-Portland and Fox College Sports. More information, including the full 2015 UMaine football schedule is online.
The Portland Press Herald published the opinion piece “Public higher education cuts threaten class mobility, UMaine professor says,” by Mick Peterson, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Maine.
Learn to make dilly beans at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Preserving the Harvest workshop 5:30–8:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 21, at the UMaine Extension office, 24 Main St., Lisbon Falls.
Extension food preservation staff member Kate McCarty will lead the workshop, which features hands-on, USDA-recommended food preservation methods, including hot water bath canning. Participants can take home the dilly beans they make.
Fresh produce, canning jars and other canning equipment will be provided. Participants should bring a pot holder.
Cost is $20 per person; partial scholarships are available. Register online by July 13. For more information, or to request a disability accommodation, call 353.5550 or 800.287.1458 (toll-free in Maine).
Skylar Bayer, a graduate student at the University of Maine Darling Marine Center, will talk about storytelling on the Maine Public Broadcasting Network’s “Maine Calling” radio show at noon Thursday, July 2.
Bayer studies scallop reproduction and the sustainability of the scallop fishery in the Gulf of Maine. She also enjoys storytelling and recognizes it as an important tool for scientists.
“We need to be able to do more than communicate our findings to other scientists,” Bayer says. “We must be able to share our science with anyone. Scientists are people, too, and science affects all of us.”
After Bayer shared a story about calling her father from the submersible Alvin on the science podcast “The Story Collider,” she became a producer for the program.
Bayer also edits and writes for the StrictlyFishwrap blog, which she created to give graduate students an opportunity to practice their writing skills and share anecdotes about conducting research and job hunting. In 2013, she appeared on “The Colbert Report.”
Ever buy a fish at a pet store that died within days of being put in an aquarium at home?
The plastic bag in which the fish traveled home may be the culprit, according to research by University of Maine marine scientist Heather Hamlin.
Hamlin and colleagues discovered that certain plastic bags with FDA food-grade approval leach nonylphenol (NP) in concentrations that are highly toxic to fish.
The chemical NP — also found in food packaging, cosmetics and laundry and dish detergents — binds to estrogen receptors. Even at low concentrations, it mimics estrogen, which feminizes and alters fertility in fish, thus threatening their existence.
NP also has been found to alter fish immune function and damage DNA.
Hamlin’s findings, published in the journal Chemosphere, demonstrate that NP may pose a greater health risk to people, the ocean and to aquatic wildlife than can be predicted from examining properties of plastic from one manufacturer, which is the method the FDA currently uses to test for toxicity.
“This study contributes to the growing body of research highlighting concerns with plastic contaminants,” says Hamlin, an assistant professor of aquaculture and marine biology.
“While not all plastic is bad, this study highlights difficulties in differentiating good from bad plastic, and it makes sense to reduce the use of plastics if alternatives, such as glass, are available.”
For the study, for 48 hours, captive-bred orchid dottybacks (Pseudochromis fridmani) were kept in synthetic seawater in Teflon bags, glass bowls or in plastic bags from one of two manufacturers. The FDA labels both types of plastic bags as food-safe polyethylene.
All of the fish in Teflon bags and glass bowls lived for the 48 hours, while 89 percent of the fish in one manufacturer’s plastic bags survived, says Hamlin, a reproductive endocrinologist interested in mechanisms by which environmental factors influence aquatic animal reproduction and development.
In the other manufacturer’s plastic bags (PE2), 60 percent of the fish died within the two days. Those that survived 48 hours in the plastic bags all died within eight days of being released in an aquarium. This, says Hamlin, demonstrates the exposure to NP caused irreversible damage to the fish.
In 48 hours, the NP concentration in the seawater in the PE2 bags was 163 parts per billion (ppb), which is nearly 24 times higher than the U.S. EPA water quality criteria for acute exposure of NP in seawater.
While this study tested for the ability of NP to leach into seawater, Hamlin says it’s possible that food stored in the PE2 plastic bags could absorb increased levels of NP as well and that it’s likely that risks to aquatic animals exposed to increasing quantities of plastic waste could be greater than previously realized.
In 2010, industry demand for NP was estimated to be more than 170,000 metric tons; another study estimated as many as 12.7 million metric tons of plastic waste entered the ocean in 2010.
NPs, says Hamlin, enter aquatic systems though a number of ways, including wastewater discharge.
Studies have indicated NP can last for decades in estuary mudflats. And one survey of 93 organic wastewater contaminants in 139 streams in the United States revealed NP was one of the most commonly occurring contaminants and measured at higher concentrations than other contaminants.
Taking all of this into consideration, Hamlin says greater oversight on the manufacture of plastics and allowable thresholds of contaminant leaching is warranted.
Kathleen Marciano, who earned her degree in marine science with a concentration in aquaculture in 2014 from UMaine; and Craig Downs of Haereticus Environmental Laboratory in Virginia, helped lead the study.
Support for the project came, in part, from a Hatch Grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture as well as from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Small Business Innovation Research.
Photo courtesy of Sea & Reef Aquaculture
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777
WVII (Channel 7) reported 13 female students from high schools around the state are spending a week participating in Sustainable Energy Leaders of the Future (SELF) at the University of Maine. The SELF Institute is a residential program that connects Maine girls from rural high schools to STEM careers through research, mentoring and community service in forest bioproducts. The group spent their week learning about different sustainable and renewable energy methods including hydrogen fuel cells, solar power, wind power, and exploring Maine’s available resources through field trips, according to the report. “Surrounding them with a bunch of girls that are also interested in it might encourage them that yeah there are more females that are actually interested in science and math and can do it; do it just as well if not better than a lot of the guys,” said Lindsey Smith, SELF camp counselor.
Doug Allen, a philosophy professor at the University of Maine, was interviewed by the Las Vegas Informer for the article “Long distance running: An interview with veteran peace activist Doug Allen.” When Allen, now 74 years old, arrived at UMaine in 1974, he helped found the Maine Peace Action Committee which is still going strong today, according to the article. Allen’s also a long-distance runner who runs five days a week, the article states.
Research by Todd Gabe, an economics professor at the University of Maine, was mentioned in a Bangor Daily News article about Bangor City Councilor Joe Baldacci pushing forward a plan to raise the minimum wage in the city and tie future wage changes to inflation. If approved, Baldacci’s ordinance would incrementally increase the minimum wage in Bangor, bumping the lowest paid workers to $8.25 per hour in 2016, $9 per hour in 2017, and $9.75 per hour in 2018, according to the article. Gabe’s research found raising the minimum wage from $7.50 to $8.25 per hour would impact 7 percent of workers in the Bangor metropolitan statistical area, the article states. At $9 per hour, 12 percent of the workforce would be affected, and at $9.75 per hour, 18 percent would see an increase, Gabe determined.
Renee Kelly, director of economic development initiatives and co-director of the Foster Center for Student Innovation, was interviewed for a story in the June 22 issue of SAGE Business Researcher titled, “Should academic capitalism shape teaching and research?” The story explores the role of universities as engines of economic development, including the ethical questions regarding the potential of corporate funding “to harm the ability of faculty to teach and research freely.” Leading the story are details about UMaine’s partnership with Acadia Harvest in Brunswick, Maine, which Kelly describes as a win-win for the university, the startup and UMaine.
Mount Desert Islander reported Rick Wahle, a University of Maine research professor at the Darling Marine Center, addressed the first Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory Science Cafe gathering in June at the Asticou Inn in Northeast Harbor. Wahle’s talk covered the effects of ocean acidification, varying water temperatures and ocean current movement on the spread of lobster larvae and population, according to the article.
The University of Maine football team will have six of its contests broadcast on television throughout the 2015 season. Three games will be shown nationally under the league’s television package and several will air on WVII-ABC 7 Bangor, the official Black Bear television affiliate.
Maine’s home opener against Rhode Island will kickoff at 3:30 p.m. Sept. 26 on the American Sports Network. The Black Bears homecoming showdown with Yale at 3:30 p.m. Oct. 17 will be shown locally on WVII. The following week, Maine will host Stony Brook on WVII, with kickoff set for 12:30 p.m. Oct. 24.
On Oct. 31, the Black Bears will travel to Villanova for a nationally televised broadcast on the NBC Sports Network beginning at 7:30 p.m.
Maine’s final two home contests will close out the TV package for the Black Bears with the Nov. 7 date with Towson kicking off at 7 p.m. on the American Sports Network and on WVII at 12:30 p.m. Nov. 14 against Elon.
The TV schedule is subject to change. All broadcasts on WVII also will be shown on WPME-Portland and Fox College Sports.
Tickets to home Black Bear football games are available online or by calling the ticket office at 207.581.BEAR.
Cason Snow, metadata librarian/cataloger at the University of Maine was recently awarded a Judges’ Spotlight Award for the 2015 ENnie Awards for his book “Dragons in the Stacks: A Teen Librarian’s Guide to Tabletop Roleplaying.” The book was published in 2014 by Libraries Unlimited and is a part of their Libraries Unlimited Professional Guides for Young Adult Librarians Series.
The book explains why role playing games are so effective at holding teenagers’ attention, identifies their specific benefits, outlines how to select and maintain a RPG collection, and demonstrates how they can enhance teen services and be used in teen programs. Detailed reviews of role-playing games are included as well, with pointers on their strengths, weaknesses and library applications.
The Gen Con EN World RPC Awards (the “ENnies”) are an annual fan-based celebration of excellence in tabletop roleplaying gaming. The Ennies give game designers, writers and artists the recognition they deserve. It is a people’s’ choice award, and the final winners are voted upon online by the gaming public.
Snow is the author of several articles on role playing in libraries including “Playing with History: A Look at Video Games, World History, and Libraries;” “Tabletop Fantasy RPGs: Tips for Introducing Role-Playing Games in Your Library;” and “Dragons in the Stacks: An Introduction to Role-Playing Games and Their Value to Libraries.” He received a master’s degree in library and information science from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee and a master of arts degree in history from Northern Illinois University.