Citizen science in Acadia
The Dragonfly Mercury Project, which began at the University of Maine in 2012, is now engaging students and volunteers in science at about 70 national parks, including Acadia. The project encourages students, volunteers and park visitors to collect dragonfly larvae to measure mercury levels in water bodies to better understand human-caused mercury contamination in national parks. Citizen science plays an essential role in the project, which is one of many collaborations between UMaine and Acadia. In tribute to the park’s centennial in 2016, UMaine Today is reflecting on the university’s relationship with Acadia, particularly in terms of significant research pertaining to the state.
There’s a baby catfish, and then this is a snail, a little freshwater snail.
We are at the south end of Hodgdon Pond, and we are sampling for nymphs and larval stages of a whole bunch of invertebrates, including dragonflies. This is part of a larger study that Sarah Nelson, from the University of Maine, has been working on around the country, lots of national parks.
We may have two, we may have three different species within there.
Citizen science really contributes a lot to this project. It does allow us the opportunity to sample in so many places and at so many times. We have people sampling in Florida, in Alaska, out in Channel Islands in California, and here in Maine, so all across the country.
It really also does get people interested in science.
Here’s some photos of some of the adults.
It’s a great way to get volunteers involved and engaged with organizations like Somes-Meynell Wildlife Sanctuary and with the park. It feels good to be doing something, exploring for a reason, and helping to better understand what’s going on in the world around us.
This project is a good example of the relationship between the University of Maine and the National Park Service and Acadia National Park, specifically. The project grew from research that began with Schoodic Institute over in the Schoodic section of Acadia National Park, so we’ve got an education side, as well.
Here in Maine we often think that we live in a really pristine, clean place. In many ways, we do. We’re sitting here, we’re looking at a beautiful landscape with a pond. We’re not looking at a lot of pavement. It is a really wonderful, protected place, but our air is coming in from other places.
Because we draw a line on a map and say, “This area is a park,” that doesn’t stop air and precipitation and water from coming into the park. We need to monitor and see what’s actually happening here in parks and help influence legislation and regulations that could help to mitigate or reduce the amount of these types of substances that we’re releasing into the air.