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Schoodic Institute Experience Reflection by Grace Morrison '22

Last summer, Grace Morrison '22 participated in the WFS trip to Acadia, Maine, to study the effects of climate crisis. Read more about her experience here.
Last summer, I participated in the school trip to Acadia, Maine to study the effects of the climate crisis in Maine. I was one of ten students who were also interested in taking steps to aid scientists in the study of climate change. I am proud to say that this group of students was engaged the whole time and was not afraid to get dirty when searching for crabs among miles of slimy seaweed or mucking around in the mud flats digging up clams. I am very grateful for the wonderful, educational experience. 

Every day before dinner we had a presentation which involved issues surrounding Maine’s climate change. Since Maine has a diverse ecosystem, the environment is and will continue to be affected in many ways. The main (no pun intended) concept that was drilled into our heads was R.A.D., which stands for resist, accept, or direct. These are three methods of responding to the climate crisis. 

The method of resist was demonstrated on our first two days when we were assigned to mark and recapture Green Crabs, which are invasive and predators of the native species, Jonah Crabs. Green Crabs are also a threat to clams, which is the second largest industry in Maine, following lobsters, with both populations at a decline due to climate change. Even though our research took two days, the data we collected helped the scientists decide that this project should be carried out for the remainder of the summer. This was concluded, because we did not recapture any of the Green Crabs we marked on the first day, showing the population size was much larger than expected. Not to mention, only two Jonah Crabs were found over the course of the two days, compared to the 43 Green Crabs caught. 

Accept was demonstrated when we took an hour and a half trip to Acadia National Park to participate in a Bioblitz. We were introduced to two apps; iNaturalist and Seek. iNaturalist is an app that connects the general public to scientists, by allowing hikers to submit photos of wildlife to a database. Seek is used to aid in identification of the organisms, which is essential to iNaturalist. We split into pairs and took categories of organisms (bugs, plants, butterflies, etc.), and ended with 382 observations through iNaturalist. 

In the abbreviation R.A.D., direct means to “actively shape a potential new ecosystem.” We did not actively use direct in our studies, rather we used Refugia, which is a term for when scientists observe an organism and how it will change through unfavorable situations. In our case, we were observing Black Crowberry across the coast, which will later help scientists predict the change, or lack of, in this species of plant. We broke into groups and measured five meters cross plots, and collected data. The app iNaturalist was also used to photograph and add the Black Crowberry into the national scientific database. 

At the end of the trip we felt accomplished with over 35 hours of field work completed! Many of us said we would cherish this experience and take home iNaturalist and the R.A.D. concept.
Resist - Work to maintain or restore ecosystems to normal 
Accept - Allow for ecosystem changes to occur
Direct - Actively shape a potential new ecosystem
 



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