Maine COLA Conference 2011

Poster Presentations for the Maine COLA Conference 2011

  1. Tracking Phosphorus in the Belgrade Lakes Chain
  2. Buffernomics: Assessing the Motivations behind Willingness to Pay for Lake Conservation
  3. Forecasting residential development in lake watersheds to inform conservation strategies
  4. Sediment Analysis for Great Pond, Long Pond and East Pond: Implications for Belgrade Lake Eutrophication
  5. Sense of Place in the Belgrade Lakes Region
  6. Explaining lakefront household adoption of conservation practices: Social norms and economic tradeoffs
  7. Using Biological Indicators to Assess the Ecological Health of the Belgrade Lakes
  8. An Introduction to LakeSmart and Best Management Practices
  9. Zooplankton, Water Quality and Development in the Belgrade Lakes: a Case Study of the Family Sididae
  10. Remote monitoring of water clarity of Maine lakes with satellite imagery

Tracking Phosphorus in the Belgrade Lakes Chain

Sylvia Doyle, Than Moore, Dan Homeier, Ian McCullough, Russell Cole, and Philip Nyhus, Environmental Studies Program, Colby College, Waterville, ME 04901 smdoyle@colby.edu, npmoore@colby.edu, dhomeier@colby.edu, frcole@colby.edu, pjnyhus@colby.edu

 

The biogeochemical dynamics along stream and river gradients have been widely studied, but interactions among connected lakes and streams have not. Since 2008, students and faculty at Colby College have been investigating total phosphorus concentrations at various locations in the Belgrade Lakes watershed, which is composed of seven interconnected lakes covering approximately 47,000 ha in Central Maine. We are using biweekly sampling to track the changes in total phosphorus concentrations as water flows through the watershed and to relate these changes to adjacent land-use and land cover patterns.  Our preliminary results indicate that total phosphorus levels have generally increased over the three years of sampling.  We have also identified phosphorus “hot spots” in locations such as the Serpentine (connecting East and North Ponds) and the Belgrade Stream (connecting Long Pond and Messalonskee Lake). In these hotspot streams, total phosphorus concentrations are higher than in the lakes themselves, perhaps reflecting adjacent land use patterns. Results of this long-term research project will contribute to understanding the interconnected causes of rising phosphorus levels in the Belgrade Lakes chain and the phosphorus cycling dynamics of other connected lake networks.

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Buffernomics: Assessing the Motivations behind Willingness to Pay for Lake Conservation

Sophie Sarkar, Philip Nyhus, and Russ Cole, Environmental Studies Program, Colby College, Waterville, ME 04901, sdsarkar@colby.edu, frcole@colby.edu, pjnyhus@colby.edu

 

Shoreline property owners have a large incentive to conserve lake water quality.  Hedonic property valuations in Maine have previously estimated that a one-meter decline of water quality as measured by Secchi disk can reduce shoreline property values by 4 – 16%.  However, while some shoreline residents voluntarily install vegetated buffers and actively participate in lake stewardship, others ignore shoreline zoning laws and conservation best management practices at the expense of lake health.  We examined the dichotomy of active and indifferent shoreline residents by assessing the characteristics that distinguish residents who are willing to pay (WTP) for lake conservation from those who are not.  We designed and implemented a contingent valuation (CV) survey of shoreline residents on East Pond and North Pond in the Belgrade Lakes region of central Maine.  The survey, sent to the permanent addresses of 89 shoreline residents, yielded an effective response rate of 44% (N=39).   We performed a non-parametric analysis to assess three categories of potential determinants of WTP, including demographic characteristics, lake water quality, and perceptions of lake water quality.  We found that income, age, lake association membership, and water quality perceptions were the most significant determinants of willingness-to-pay for lake conservation.

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Forecasting residential development in lake watersheds to inform conservation strategies

Daniel J. Kary1, Kathleen P. Bell2, Shaleen Jain3, and Brian McGill4, 1M.S. Graduate Student, Ecology and Environmental Science, School of Economics, University of Maine, daniel.kary@umit.maine.edu, 2Associate Professor, School of Economics, University of Maine, kpbell@maine.edu,3Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Maine, shaleen.jain@umit.maine.edu, 4Assistant Professor, School of Biology and Ecology, University of Maine, mail@brianmcgill.org

 

 

 

Residential development is a significant driver of land use change in certain Maine communities. While these changes provide economic benefits, they can also generate economic costs, such as those associated with alteration of environmental processes. Increased development typically causes increases in surface stormwater runoff, and these increases are linked to other changes (e.g., increased pollutant loading) that may harm lake ecosystems. Conservation strategies may help to mitigate or prevent these impacts. However, uncertainty about future development complicates decisions related to allocation of available resources. In this research, we have developed a method to forecast the timing and location of residential development at the watershed scale. By estimating the probability of development of land parcels within the city of Ellsworth, we have grouped watersheds into different development risk categories.  We hope that this information will prove useful for planners, managers, and activists engaged in lake conservation efforts.

Sediment Analysis for Great Pond, Long Pond and East Pond: Implications for Belgrade Lake Eutrophication

Katherine Murray, Josephine Thiele, and Whitney King Chemistry Department, Colby College, Waterville, ME 04901, jcthiele@colby.edu, kemurray@colby.edu, dwking@colby.edu.

Phosphorus is often the limiting reagent for algal growth in lakes. Increasing deep-water anoxia followed by mixing events has resulted in substantial phosphorus release into the water column, resulting in season algal blooms. The purpose of this experiment was to analyze phosphorus, iron, and aluminum concentrations in the sediment from the bottom of Great Pond, Long Pond, and East Pond, three lakes in the Belgrade Watershed. The concentrations of these three elements are crucial in determining the nutrient cycling of the lake. The sediments for Great Pond and Long Pond were gathered in the summer of 2010 using a grab sampler dropped through the water column from a pontoon boat. The samples were taken in a straight-line cross-section of the lake so that sediments from different depths could be compared. Robin Nesbeda gathered East Pond sediment samples during the summer of 2003 using a Wilco sampling device, and a similar cross section of samples were chosen to analyze. These sediment samples were then dried and put through a series of sequential phosphorus extractions. Each extraction was analyzed for phosphorus, aluminum and iron using an Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer (ICP-MS).Less iron and more aluminum was found in Long Pond compared to Great Pond, meaning that more of the phosphorus will be sequestered in Long Pond leading to less intense algal blooms.

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Sense of Place in the Belgrade Lakes Region

Erin Love, Science Technology and Society, Colby College, Waterville, ME 04901, ealove@colby.edu

 

The poster will explore the concept of sense of place as it applies to Maine and, specifically, to the Belgrade Lakes Region.  Through analysis of scholarly monographs, interviews with Maine writers, local art pieces, and collections of essays by local writers, the poster will examine how sense of place has been described in the past, how local artists and writers have chosen to express the concept, and how it relates to the history of the central Maine region.  These findings are a step toward creating a richer context for the EPSCoR-Belgrade project as a whole and toward fulfillment of the knowledge to action component of the project.  The more people know about the region and the stronger their relationship to it, the more likely they are to care for it.

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Explaining lakefront household adoption of conservation practices:Social norms and economic tradeoffs

Ann E. Speers1, Kathleen P. Bell2, Mario F. Teisl3 and Jessica E. Leahy4, 1Resource Economics and Policy Master’s Student, School of Economics, 5782 Winslow Hall, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469, 2Associate Professor and 3Professor, School of Economics, 5782 Winslow Hall, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469, 4Assistant Professor, School of Forest Resources, 219 Nutting Hall,University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469.  Corresponding author: ann.speers@umit.maine.edu, Additional authors: kpbell@maine.edu, teisl@maine.edu, jessica.leahy@maine.edu

Household conservation practices are designed to reduce and mitigate storm water pollution, and widespread adoption of these practices could improve the health of many water bodies (US EPA, 2010). To examine decisions about conservation practices, we draw upon a line of inquiry that combines economic and psychological insights to model pro-environmental behavior (e.g., Clark et al., 2003). We investigate the role of social norms (Bamberg & Moser, 2007), positional status (Solnick & Hemenway, 2005) and additional social-psychological determinants to reveal cognitive and economic motivations related to household use of shoreline buffers of vegetation and proper septic system maintenance (Fishbein & Ajzen, 2010). We estimate discrete choice models of both past and intended future behavior using data from a mixed-mode survey of Maine lakefront property owners. Our results highlight payoffs in blending multi-disciplinary insights and suggest the relative importance of economic and psychological motivations varies across types of practices.

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Using Biological Indicators to Assess the Ecological Health of the Belgrade Lakes

Sylvia Doyle, Zakary Jaques, Rachael Mack, Than Moore, Johanna Salay, Peter Smithy, Will Supple, Molly Susla, Professor Russ Cole, Professor Cathy Bevier, Professor Herb Wilson, Biology Department, Colby College, Waterville, ME 04901 smdoyle@colby.edu, zmjaques@colby.edu, remack@colby.edu, npmoore@colby.edu, jssalay@colby.edu, pwsmithy@colby.edu, wrsupple@colby.edu, mesusla@colby.edu, frcole@colby.edu, crbevier@colby.edu, whwilson@colby.edu

 

The shoreline of the Belgrade Lakes is very important ecologically because it provides habitat for a diversity of plant and animal species. Several of these species are known indicator species whose presence and abundance can be used to assess shoreline quality. This study will compare developed and undeveloped sites along the shoreline by determining the abundance of a variety of macrophytes, benthic macroinvertebrates and fish species. We will also sample adult damselflies whose abundance is closely tied to the presence of aquatic vegetation.  Our protocol for quantifying biodiversity is based on the protocol developed by Merrel et al. in their study in the Northern Forest of Vermont and Butler and deMaynadier in his study in southern and central Maine. We predict that undeveloped sites will have greater biodiversity and therefore will be more ecologically healthy than developed sites.

Brochure on Survey Sampling Methods

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An Introduction to LakeSmart and Best Management Practices

Zakary Jaques and Rachael Mack, Biology Deparment, Colby College, Waterville, ME 04901 zmjaques@colby.edu, remack@colby.edu

LakeSmart is a Maine Department of Environmental Protection program designed to encourage residents within Maine’s watersheds to adopt ‘lake-friendly’ practices.  These best management practices (BMPs) focus on reducing run-off and erosion, specifically on developed shorefront properties, that can contribute to increased nutrient loading and lower water quality.  Watershed residents who participate in the program have the opportunity to have a trained LakeSmart screener evaluate four designated aspects of their property. The screeners identify areas for improvement and direct the owner to technical resources, including certified LakeSmart contractors, landscapers, and BRCA members.  Fortunately, many BMPs, including the use of erosion control mulch, increased natural vegetative growth, properly managed foot traffic, and reductions in the use of pesticides and fertilizers, do not require much technical assistance and have been shown to significantly reduce erosion.  A resident whose property is officially evaluated and qualifies in all four categories is eligible for a coveted LakeSmart Award.

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Zooplankton, Water Quality and Development in the Belgrade Lakes: a Case Study of the Family Sididae Kimberly Bittler, Russell Cole, Philip Nyhus, and Liam O’Brien, Environmental Studies Program and Mathematics and Statistics Department, Colby College, Waterville, ME 04901 kbittler@colby.edu, frcole@colby.edu, pjnyhus@colby.edu, lobrien@colby.edu

Zooplankton serve an important role in aquatic food webs by feeding upon phytoplankton, which occasionally form detrimental algal blooms. Zooplankton are eaten by fish, and their abundance can be affected by top down effects of trophic cascades. Sididae is a freshwater family of zooplankton that is associated with macrophytes. Zooplankton were sampled from littoral areas of the Belgrade Lakes in Central Maine. Densities for Sididae were significantly higher in macrophyte patches and in lakes where Land Locked Salmon were present. Densities were negatively correlated with the presence of Northern Pike, an aggressive piscivore, and with increases in watershed wide residential development, holding all other variables constant. These findings suggest that trophic cascades do not have a strong association with  zooplankton communities in the Belgrade Lakes, and that residential development influences zooplankton communities through more mechanisms than nutrient loading alone. Zooplankton may be useful indicators to track the impacts of development throughout the Belgrade Lakes.

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Remote monitoring of water clarity of Maine lakes with satellite imagery

Ian M. McCullough1, Cynthia S. Loftin2, Steven A. Sader3, 1 Department of Wildlife Ecology, University of Maine, Orono, ME  04469-5755, 2 U.S. Geological Survey, Maine Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Orono, ME  04469-5755, 3 School of Forest Resources, University of Maine, Orono, ME  04469-5755

Water clarity is a reliable indicator of lake productivity and is an ideal metric of regional water quality. Maine contains over 2,000 lakes > 8 ha in size, however the majority is rarely monitored. Assessed lakes generally are located in southern Maine and represent a spatially irregular, non-random sample. The purpose of this study is to develop a remote monitoring program for all lakes > 8 ha regardless of accessibility to supplement the existing lake monitoring program. Secondly, spatial and temporal patterns of clarity will be evaluated during 1990-2010 using archived data. Preliminary regression models using Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) brightness values and field-collected clarity data indicate TM bands 1 and 3 are strong predictors of water clarity during 1990-2010 (R² = 0.69-0.89, p < 0.0001). Lake depth and perimeter also explain variability in clarity, although less consistently. Average absolute difference between predicted and observed clarity ranges 0.66-0.99 m.

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