University of Maine researchers are one step closer to controlling the ever-growing invasive fire ant populations, Myrmica rubra, that have been spreading throughout Maine for the last 15 years.
Due to the highly competitive and aggressive behavior of these fire ants, eradication has proven to be almost impossible. UMaine researchers are turning their attention to a different kind of control to try and combat these tiny stinging insects. Their weapon — pathogenic fungi.
“We are attempting to try and grow this newly discovered fungi in the lab in order to look at its utility for management of the ants, but it may be too difficult to reproduce which would hamper its development as a biological control mechanism. We aren’t convinced, but we are looking into it,” said Eleanor Groden, UMaine professor of biological sciences. “It has some potential.”
By encouraging the growth of the pathogenic fungi, these researchers hope to scale down the populations of invasive fire ants, which will alleviate Maine residences from the painful stings the tiny insects administer.
In an article that appeared in the Journal of Invertebrate Pathology, titled “Ophiocordyceps myrmicarum, a new species infecting invasive Myrmica rubra in Maine” researchers Rabern Simmons (now at the School of Forest Resources and Conservation at the University of Florida), Groden, Jennifer Lund and Tamara Levitsky isolated and described a newly discovered fungus which they identified as being a member of the genus Hirsutella. The fungi is the first species in this genus to be isolated from the North American European fire ant in New England, though there are two other pathogens within the genus which infect M. rubra in the United Kingdom.
The researchers suspect that the relatedness of the taxa infers that O. myrmicarum is a native of North America or a relatively recent immigrant along with the invasive European fire ant. They also hypothesize that the dramatic increase in fire ant populations over the last decade could be causing increased transmission of the fungi and could explain why we have only observed the fungi in Maine, not in European ant populations.
Ants were collected live from Acadia National Park near Breakneck Ponds, Mount Desert Island, in fall 2010 and 2011. The researchers isolated and maintained the ants in cultures in order to collect morphological data. They then used techniques such as DNA extraction, amplification, sequencing and phylogenetic analysis to determine if it was, in fact, a new species.
The researchers conducted an exposure trial in seven separate chambers, four of which were inoculated with the fungi. Of the four chambers exposed with O. myrmicarum, all individuals died within 30 days, whereas no ants in the remaining three chambers died during the same period. Once dead, the infected ants were transferred to well plates to be monitored for several weeks, during which 20 of the 73 dead ants produced the reproductive structure of the fungal pathogen.
The exotic ant species was first documented in New England in the early 1900s. According to the researchers, the native populations — ranging from Great Britain to Siberia and the Black Sea to the Arctic — remain relatively low in population density. But in New England and other various locations throughout North America, the population density is high for the invasive species.
“There are a lot of steps between what we are doing and determining if a strategy like this would be viable. But, it’s very exciting,” said Groden.
Contact: Amanda Clark, 207.581.3721
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Lund
A free open house will be hosted at the Target Technology Center on Thursday, June 11 from noon to 2 p.m., according to a Press Release from The Maine Edge. The open house will include tours of the facility, a barbecue and opportunities to meet innovators within the Target Technology Center community.
“The open house is an opportunity to have lunch with us, meet our amazing tenants and take a tour of our great facility,” says Jesse Moriarity, co-director of the TTC.
The center is a partnership of Bangor Area Target Development Corporation, the town of Orono, the University of Maine and the state of Maine.
David Yarborough, wild blueberry specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension was quoted in an Ellsworth American article about cooling temperatures and the affect they have on blueberry crop pollination by keeping temperature-sensitive bees from pollinating blueberries.
“If they had adequate bees, they probably did OK,” said Yarborough. “But I would say conditions are far from optimal.”
Sandy Butler, UMaine professor of social work and graduate program coordinator in the School of Social Work, contributed an Opinion article in the Bangor Daily News about the link between home care for the elderly and pulling individuals out of poverty.
Butler is a member of the Maine chapter of the national Scholars Strategy Network, which brings together scholars across the country to address public challenges and their policy implications. Members’ columns appear in the BDN every other week.
According to an article that appeared in Boothbay Register, Noah Oppenheim, graduate student at the University of Maine Darling Marine Center, was recently awarded a Sea Grant Knauss Fellowship.“I am humbled and grateful for the opportunity to pursue a career in marine affairs at the federal level through the Knauss Fellowship,” said Oppenheim.
Rick Wahle, UMaine research professor in the School of Marine Sciences and adviser to Oppenheim, was also quoted in the article.
“I’m tremendously gratified to see that Noah’s being recognized for his hard work,” said Wahle. “He’s a great fit for the Knauss Fellowship because he’s eager to engage with stakeholders and policymakers in translating the findings and implications of new developments in fishery science.”
The one-year paid fellowship is aimed to give graduate students — interested in ocean resources and national policy — experience working with legislative and executive branches of government in the Washington, D.C. area. His fellowship — which is named after John A. Knauss, founder of Sea Grant and a former NOAA administrator — will begin in February 2016.
As outlined in the Bangor Daily News editorial, three UMaine social work students — Mikala Thompson, Alaina Crowley and Daniel Cohen — were cited for conducting a phone survey earlier this year, in which they contacted 112 physicians who were included on the Maine State Opioid Treatment Authority list of Suboxone providers. The students wanted to know how many doctors in the state prescribed Suboxone, which is an alternative treatment drug given to recovering opioid addicts.
The graduate students found that less than half of the listed doctors prescribed the drug, with 42 saying that they had stopped prescribing the addiction treatment drug. Of the 112, 27 did not respond.
“It was really amazing that just over a third of the people that we contacted … could say, ‘No we’re not prescribing Suboxone,’” Thompson said.
Artwork from internationally recognized artists with strong connections to Maine will be the focus of the University of Maine Museum of Art exhibit, reports an article in The Maine Edge. The exhibit will run from June 19 to Sept. 19 and will showcase more than 20 pieces from the museum’s permanent collection. Some artist that will be showcased are John Marin, Andrew Wyeth, Alex Katz, Berenice Abbott and Neil Welliver — all of which spent significant time in Maine and were influenced by its “natural beauty and unique sense of place.”
“Maine has such a rich, artistic history,” said George Kinghorn, the museum’s director and curator. “The museum is delighted to share works by artists who have put Maine on the map internationally.”
The University of Maine Museum of Art is open to the public 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. More information about the museum is online.
Anne Lichtenwalner, associate professor of animal and veterinary sciences, University of Maine Cooperative Extension, has updated information about avian influenza (AI) in a bulletin for poultry producers.
On June 8, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources reported a confirmed case of avian flu in Michigan, making it the 21st state in the U.S. affected by the outbreak.
AI is a contagious type A influenza virus of birds that occurs worldwide. Some strains can mutate and are capable of affecting other animals and occasionally people. AI is spread via respiratory droplets, saliva, mucus and manure. It also may be capable of airborne spread, if conditions allow.
The updated information is in Bulletin 2109, Avian Influenza and Backyard Poultry 2015 (umaine.edu/publications/2109e). More information about the publication, as well as free downloads, are available at extensionpubs.umext.maine.edu and by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org, 207.581.3792.
Lichtenwalner will blog updates on umaine.edu/veterinarylab.
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777
University of Maine staff and students are taking part in a two-week field camp at Wind Cave National Park in Hot Springs, South Dakota. Jim Mead of East Tennessee State University is head of the multi-organization crew that will remove material that contains fossils from at least 22 species dating back 11,000 years. The crew also will screen-wash the material and prepare it for curation. Persistence Cave, as it has been dubbed, was discovered in 2004, according to the Rapid City Journal, NewsCenter 1 TV and newser. NewsCenter 1 TV reported that scientists said preliminary samples from the 11,000-year-old animal bones will help them understand how the region, including climate, has changed.
Mary Jane Perry’s research was included in a list of 10 things people might not know about the ocean that the National Science Foundation compiled in celebration of World Oceans Day on June 8. Perry is interim director of the Darling Marine Center and professor in the School of Marine Sciences. Her research appears as No. 5 on the list: “Just as crocus and daffodil blossoms signal the start of a warmer season on land… a massive bloom of microscopic plants unfolds each spring in the North Atlantic Ocean from Bermuda to the Arctic.”
Niclas Erhardt, associate professor of management at University of Maine, was an expert source for WalletHub’s article that ranked the best and worst cities for professional and college ice hockey fans. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was ranked best and Springfield, Massachusetts was ranked worst.
When asked for tips for fans to enjoy the sport without breaking the bank, Erhardt encouraged enthusiasts to check out college hockey as game tickets run $15-$20, compared to the $100 that tickets to professional games cost.
“College hockey, especially DI, is very competitive and is an opportunity to see up and coming players that might play in the NHL later on,” he said, listing former UMaine players Gustav Nyquist and Ben Bishop as examples.
Richard Barron, University of Maine women’s basketball coach, commented to the Bangor Daily News on several changes the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Committee approved for the 2015-16 season.
Changes include a game format of four, 10-minute quarters (switching from 20-minute halves) and having the bonus (two-shots) come into effect on the fifth foul of each quarter. The bonus from the fourth quarter will carry into overtime.
“I like bringing the rules more in line with FIBA rules with the quarters,” Barron was quoted as saying. “No one enjoys watching a game where there are 40-plus free throws, so resetting the fouls at the quarter break should help with that.”
In addition, in the final 59.9 seconds of the fourth quarter and overtime, a team that calls a timeout immediately after a made basket, after a defensive rebound or after a change of possession, can inbound the ball in the frontcourt. That change, said Barron in the article, will make late-game possessions more exciting.
Many media outlets covered University of Maine System Chancellor James Page and Maine Community College System Acting President Derek Langhauser signing an agreement so students enrolled in any of Maine’s 14 community colleges and public universities can complete as many as 35 credits of their general education requirements and transfer that block of credits, for full credit, to any of the other institutions within the two systems. Media that covered the signing include WLBZ2, WCSH6, Mainebiz, MaineToday Media, Bangor Daily News, WGAN Radio and WABI TV5. The Sun Journal carried the Bangor Daily News story and MPBN carried the Associated Press report. To read the University of Maine System release, visit maine.edu/maines-14-public-colleges-universities-sign-far-reaching-transfer-agreement.
The 3rd Annual Children’s Book Drive to benefit Literacy Volunteers will be held from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. June 23, at Briar Patch Book & Toy Store, 27 Central St., Bangor. The rain date is June 25.
All proceeds and books collected will benefit Literacy Volunteers of Bangor, a program aimed to help adults and families learn how to read. The event will include free ice cream, read-alongs with Literacy Volunteers and a guest reading of “Faraway Friends” by Russ Cox.
Donations of new and gently used book donations may be dropped off through June 30 at Darling’s Auto Group locations in Augusta, Bangor, Brewer and Ellsworth. Sponsors include Literacy Volunteers of Bangor, The Briar Patch, the University of Maine College of Education and Human Development and Darling’s Auto.
University of Maine Cooperative Extension 4-H in Oxford County hosts its June Jamboree Livestock Clinic from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, June 13, and from 9 a.m. to noon Sunday, June 14, at Fryeburg Fairgrounds, 1154 Main St., Fryeburg.
The clinic, for 4-H club members and leaders, offers sessions on sheering sheep, showing market lambs, swine and beef, and caring for livestock. The event is free and open to members of public interested in learning about 4-H and animal science projects. For more information, or to request a disability accommodation, call 207.743.6329 or email email@example.com.
The Maine Writing Project (MWP) led by Kenneth Martin in the College of Education and Human Development has received $10,000 for the second half of a two-year SEED Teacher Leadership Development Grant from the National Writing Project. MWP, founded in 1997, is one of almost 200 university-based organizations in the National Writing Project that support young writers and teachers of writing throughout the United States. Each year, up to 20 educators complete UMaine’s annual institute in writing, the teaching of writing, and teacher leadership — joining our membership of more than 300 teacher-consultants. Program activities for members include book study groups, online writing groups, and the Maine Writes publication of members’ writing, as well as professional development workshops and conferences for educators across Maine. Outreach activities include young authors summer camps for grades 3-12, support for student-staffed writing centers in Maine schools, and the Science Around ME Internet app project for science and literacy in partnership with the Maine Discovery Museum. Funds provided by the NWP SEED Grant are essential to continuing these programs.
The Bangor Daily News compiled “17 rules to live by,” delivered to Maine graduates in recent years by Commencement speakers. Four of the 17 speakers who made the list spoke to UMaine graduates: Tess Gerritsen, 2014; Lawrence Bender, 2013; Stephen King, 2005; U.S. Sen. Angus King, who was then Maine governor, 2002.
The 2015 Maine Government Summer Internship Program began May 26, with 34 college students interning in various state agencies.
The Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine administers the 2015 Maine Government Summer Internship Program — a full-time, 12-week, paid work experience.
Students’ majors include political science, economics, engineering and environmental science. Most study at in-state colleges and universities, while others are Maine residents pursuing their education out of state.
Departments hosting the interns include: Education; Labor; Transportation; Corrections; Administrative and Financial Services; Professional and Financial Regulation; Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management; Maine State Library; and Workers’ Compensation.
For many years, the program has offered a unique opportunity for talented college students to work within Maine state government. Interns provide valuable assistance to state agencies while gaining practical and professional skills in their fields of study. Most interns are based in Augusta, while others travel to work in various parts of the state.
The Maine Government Summer Internship Program was established in 1967 by the 103rd Maine Legislature to attract and select college students with ambition and talent for temporary internships within Maine state government.
A total of 1,712 students have participated in the program. Undergraduate and graduate students who either reside in Maine or attend a Maine school are eligible.
The 2015 interns:
- Joseph Greco, of Greene, Maine, is a political science/business management major at Thomas College. Greco is a property management intern in the Bureau of General Services/Property Management Division with the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services.
- Darine Gnidehoue, of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, is a actuarial science major at the University of Maine at Farmington. Gnidehoue is a tax examiner assistant for Maine Revenue Services with the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services.
- Alexander Roberts, of Randolph, Maine, is a mechanical engineering major at the University of Maine. Roberts is a special projects assistant with the Bureau of General Services in the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services
- Robert Potts of North Yarmouth, Maine, is a history/political science major at the University of Maine. Potts is a Juvenile Justice Advisory Group assistant with the Juvenile Justice Advisory Group in the Maine Department of Corrections.
- Haileigh Kochis, of Oakland, Maine, is a biology major at Carroll College. Kochis is an energy systems assistant with Facilities Engineering at the Maine Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management.
- William Noble, of Sidney, Maine, is an ecology and environmental science major at the University of Maine. Noble is a GIS intern in the Maine Emergency Management Agency at the Maine Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management.
- Alyssa Withee, of West Gardiner, Maine, is a political science major at the University of Southern Maine. Withee is a community organizations disaster recovery/preparedness capacity building intern in the Maine Emergency Management Agency at the Maine Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management.
- Spencer Shagoury, of Hallowell, Maine, is a government and legal studies major at Bowdoin College. Shagoury is an emergency operations planning intern at the Maine Emergency Management Agency in the Maine Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management.
- Ashley Godbout of Hallowell, Maine, is a secondary education major at the University of Maine at Farmington. Godbout is a Maine Learning Technology Initiative assistant with the Maine Learning Technology Initiative at the Maine Department of Education.
- Fiona Sterling of Richmond, Maine, is a management/leadership major at Hellenic College. Sterling is a Maine Learning Technology Initiative assistant with the Maine Learning Technology Initiative at the Maine Department of Education.
- Laura Perez of Biddeford, Maine, is an international affairs major at the University of Maine. Perez is a migrant education field and office assistant in the Migrant Education Office with the Maine Department of Education.
- Jesse Juntura, of Greene, Maine, is a government/global studies major at the University of Maine. Juntura is a migrant education field and office assistant in the Migrant Education Office with the Maine Department of Education.
- Chauncey Devin, of Manchester, Maine, is a resource economics major at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Devin is a research and planning intern in research and communications at MaineHousing.
- Taylor Talmage, of Auburn, Maine, attends the University of Maine School of Law. Talmage is a legal intern in the Office of the Public Advocate with the Maine Executive Department.
- Treva deMaynadier, of China, Maine, is an anthropology major at Oberlin College. deMaynadier is a migrant and seasonal farmworker survey assistant with the Maine Monitor Advocate at the Maine Department of Labor.
- Emily Colfer, of Manchester, Maine, is an international development major at Northumbria University. Colfer is a disability employment assistant in the Bureau of Employment Services at the Maine Department of Labor.
- Kathryn Bernatchez of Belgrade, Maine, is a political science major at Boston University. Bernatchez is a computer conversion project assistant with the Bureau of Employment Services at the Maine Department of Labor.
- Sarah Dean, of Richmond, Maine, is a marketing/international business major at the University of Maine. Dean is a communication assistant in the Office of the Commissioner at the Maine Department of Labor.
- Kyle Norweg, of Norridgewock, Maine, is a public and environmental affairs/Russian and East European studies major at Indiana University. Norweg is a publications intern with the Bureau of Unemployment Insurance at the Maine Department of Labor.
- Arianna Castonguay, of Augusta, Maine, is an economics major at the University of Maine. Castonguay is an assistant to the principal examiner at the Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection at the Maine Department of Professional and Financial Regulation.
- Kimberly Clark, of Portland, Maine, is an American and New England studies major at the University of Southern Maine. Clark is a collections digitization intern at Collections, Digital Initiatives and Promotion with the Maine State Library.
- Pauline Bickford-Duane, of Orrington, Maine, is an English and French studies major at Wheaton College. Bickford-Duane is a collections digitization intern at Collections, Digital Initiatives and Promotion with the Maine State Library.
- Amanda Brackett of Vassalboro, Maine, is an environmental science major at Clark University. Brackett is an environment-natural resource field and data assistant at the Environmental Office with the Maine Department of Transportation.
- Noah Bosworth, of Farmingdale, Maine, is a conservation biology and ecology major at Montana State University. Bosworth is the Environment-Bridge Group assistant at the Environmental Office–Bridge Group with the Maine Department of Transportation.
- Alyssa Gartley, of South China, Maine, is a civil engineering major at the University of Maine. Gartley is a hydrology-water resources intern at the Environmental Office-Surface Water Resources Division with the Maine Department of Transportation.
- Drew Olehowski, of Lewiston, Maine, is an environmental engineering major at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Olehowski is a hydrology-water resources intern at the Environmental Office-Surface Water Resources Division at the Maine Department of Transportation.
- Seikah Roberts, of Brunswick, Maine, is an environmental science major at Juniata College. Roberts is an Office of Audit assistant in Finance and Administration with the Maine Department of Transportation.
- Eric Sanderson, of Falmouth, Maine, is a political science/economics major at Stonehill College. Sanderson is a transportation planning intern in the Office of Planning at the Maine Department of Transportation.
- Grace Gould, of Waterville, Maine, is a chemistry major at the University of Maine. Gould is a GIS/data inventory assistant with the Results and Information Office at the Maine Department of Transportation.
- Andrew Roberts, of Randolph, Maine, is a mechanical engineering major at the University of Maine. Roberts is a traffic engineering work zone safety and mobility assistant in Maintenance and Operations at the Maine Department of Transportation.
- Lindsay Bellegarde, of Waterville, Maine, is a criminal justice major at Thomas College. Bellegarde is an ADA inventory assistant in the Civil Rights Office at the Maine Department of Transportation.
- Robert Swain, of Augusta, Maine, is a chemistry/mathematics major at Columbia University. Swain is an ADA inventory assistant in the Civil Rights Office at the Maine Department of Transportation.
- Sam Nielsen, of Manchester, Maine, is a civil engineering major at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Nielsen is a traffic engineering/ancillary structures intern in Maintenance and Operations at the Maine Department of Transportation.
- Helen Hanson, of South China, Maine, is a paralegal studies major at Husson University. Hanson is a legal assistant with the Advocate Division, Portland Regional Office, of the Maine Workers’ Compensation Board.
Contact: Charles Morris, 207.581.4135
Noah Oppenheim, a graduate student at the University of Maine Darling Center in Walpole, Maine, has been awarded a Sea Grant Knauss Fellowship.
The one-year paid fellowship provides a unique educational experience to graduate students interested in ocean, coastal and Great Lakes resources, and in national policy decisions affecting those resources.
It matches graduate students with hosts in the legislative and executive branches of government in the Washington, D.C. area. Oppenheim’s legislative fellowship begins in February 2016.
“I am humbled and grateful for the opportunity to pursue a career in marine affairs at the federal level through the Knauss Fellowship,” says Oppenheim, a candidate for the dual Master of Science degree (marine biology and marine policy).
“Growing up and studying in Maine has taught me a great deal about how people use the ocean and its resources. Midcoast has been a wonderful place to live and work these past few years. I’m excited to be able to take the lessons learned from my time here with me to Washington.”
Rick Wahle, a research professor in UMaine’s School of Marine Sciences, is Oppenheim’s adviser.
“I’m tremendously gratified to see that Noah’s being recognized for his hard work,” says Wahle.
“He’s a great fit for the Knauss Fellowship because he’s eager to engage with stakeholders and policymakers in translating the findings and implications of new developments in fishery science.”
Earlier this spring, the UMaine College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture presented Oppenheim with the George F. Dow Graduate Scholarship.
In 2012, in a scientific first, Oppenheim videotaped lobsters cannibalizing their young on the ocean floor off Pemaquid Point. His thesis research involves developing and testing forecasting tools for population trends in the American lobster fishery.
He has been supported by Maine Sea Grant and the National Science Foundation’s Coastal SEES (Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability) Program.
Oppenheim grew up in Falmouth. He graduated from Waynflete School in Portland, Maine, in 2005, the same year he became a Divemaster.
During a year in college, Oppenheim studied hammerhead shark migration in the Galapagos Islands and was a crewmember on sailing vessels in the South Pacific.
After he earned a bachelor’s degree in biology in 2010 from Reed College in Portland, Oregon, Oppenheim worked in the Bering Sea as a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Marine Fisheries Service groundfish observer and a deckhand on a salmon fishing vessel.
The fellowship is named after John A. Knauss, a founder of Sea Grant and a former NOAA administrator.
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777
Blackstone Quoted in Pacific Standard Magazine Article About Friendships Between Parents and the Childfree
Amy Blackstone, University of Maine sociology professor, was referenced and interviewed in Pacific Standard Magazine as an expert sociologist who studies the child-free. Blackstone has interviewed dozens of people who’ve opted out of parenthood, in which she found that at least half of the child-free subjects reported tensions between themselves and their friends that had children. In the article, Blackstone states that understanding new priorities is key.
“Maintaining the friendship requires patience on both sides. If you take a broader view of new parenthood and think of it as a major life event and recognize the relationships shift as a result of many life events…a new job, home, relationship…it might be easier to understand each other,” said Blackstone.