Schoodic Institute announces fellowship awards for Acadia research

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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 Oct. 31, 2022.

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