Of Pools and People

University of Maine Researchers and colleagues Receive a National Science Foundation Coupled Natural Human Systems Grant

(Orono) Understanding the vital connections between landowner concerns, municipal planning, conservation activities, and the ecology of vernal pools will be the focus of natural and social scientists from the University of Maine, Clark University, and Bowdoin College as they embark on a multi-year research project concerning Maine’s small natural features—vernal pools.

The researchers already have close working relationships with a number of towns in Maine. The trust that exists between communities and researchers will promote opportunities to discover and implement local innovative vernal pool management strategies. Research results from this work will be utilized to inform policy experiments on the ground in Maine. Maine’s results will also be shared with communities throughout New England and Eastern Canada broadening the impact of this exciting research dynamic.

The National Science Foundation’s Coupled Natural and Human Systems (NSF-CNH) Program awarded this four year grant to bring together researchers studying linkages between ecological function, economic implications of resource regulation on private land, conservation strategies, and landowner and municipal decision-making.

Our Team

Aram Calhoun
Aram Calhoun
Dr. Calhoun is a Professor of Wetland Ecology at the University of Maine. Her research interests in vernal pool ecology and conservation and wetland ecology.  Read More
Kathleen P. Bell
Kathleen P. Bell
Associate Professor Kathleen Bell joined the faculty at the University of Maine in 2001, where she conducts research on a variety of environment, public policy, and community economic development topics and teaches economics, public policy, statistics, and geographic information system (GIS) courses.  Read More
Krista Capps
Krista Capps
Dr. Capps is an aquatic community and ecosystem ecologist. She works in both temperate and tropical freshwater systems. She is an Assistant Professor at Odum School of Ecology and Assistant Research Scientist, Savannah River Ecology Laboratory.  Read More
Malcolm L. Hunter, Jr.
Malcolm L. Hunter, Jr.
Dr. Hunter is a Professor of Wildlife Ecology and Libra Professor of Conservation Biology at the University of Maine. His research experience covers a variety of ecosystems and organisms – birds, amphibians, mammals, reptiles, insects, vascular plants, rivers, lakes, wetlands, grasslands, and more – but his major focus is on forest ecosystems and the maintenance of their biological diversity.  Read More
Aria Amirbahman
Aria Amirbahman
Dr. Amirbahman is a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Maine. His areas of research interest are aquatic chemistry and contaminant transport, and in particular, the study of speciation and transport of metals and nutrients, and their interactions with mineral surfaces and natural organic matter in natural and engineered systems.  Read More
Michael Kinnison
Michael Kinnison
Dr. Kinnison is a Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Maine. His research includes the evolution and ecology of populations in the wild, or under anthropogenic influences. Most of Dr. Kinnison’s work involves fish populations and evolutionary processes observed over contemporary time scales.  Read More
Cynthia S. Loftin
Cynthia S. Loftin
Dr. Loftin is part of the USGS Maine Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at the University of Maine. Her research is in aquatic ecology with an emphasis on conservation and restoration of perturbed, freshwater systems. Dr. Loftin’s research program encompasses two concentrations: hydrological influences on aquatic vegetation dynamics and identifying effects of selected human-introduced stressors on Maine’s aquatic systems and their inhabitants.  Read More
Dana Marie Bauer
Dana Marie Bauer
Dr. Bauer is Assistant Director and Research Scientist of the George Perkins Marsh Institute at Clark University. Her research applies economic and ecological theory towards the assessment of ecosystem services and the analysis of policies and programs that aim to protect them. She uses a variety of empirical data analysis and simulation modeling techniques that integrate ecology and economics to better understand how human behavior influences and is influenced by natural ecosystems.  Read More
Erik Nelson
Erik Nelson
Dr. Nelson is a Assistant Professor of Economics at Bowdoin College. He has a Ph.D. in Applied Economics with a concentration in Environmental Economics and a minor in Conservation Biology.  Read More

Meet Our Researchers

Kris Hoffmann
Kris Hoffmann
In Maine, most of the information we use to manage vernal pools comes from studies on wood frogs and spotted salamanders. We know little about the third amphibian indicator species, the blue-spotted salamander, and even less about a fourth lineage of amphibian, the unisexual salamander.  Read More
Carly Eakin
Carly Eakin
Carly’s research focuses on the population persistence and health of wood frogs and spotted salamanders. These animals are sensitive to changes in the environment as they rely on both aquatic and terrestrial areas to complete their life cycles.  Read More
Luke Groff
Luke Groff
Wood frogs, the most winter-hardy frog in North America, use three habitats throughout their lives: one for breeding and laying eggs (vernal pool), one for summering to feed and hide from predators (nearby forest), and one for hibernation (nearby forest). The breeding period is short and explosive, lasting only a few days or weeks, after which frogs move into the surrounding forest.  Read More
Jessica Balukas
Jessica Balukas
Jessica graduated in August 2015 as an interdisciplinary Master’s student and was a research assistant on a coupled natural and human systems research team. She chose to incorporate both ecological and economic elements in her thesis research. The economic chapter focuses on the role of landowners in vernal pool conservation.  Read More
Jared Homola
Jared Homola
Jared joined UMaine’s vernal pool research team as a PhD student in August of 2013. His research involves using genetic tools to understand how wood frogs and spotted salamanders move among Maine’s vernal pools.  Read More
Thomas Hastings
Thomas Hastings
Thomas Hastings is a recent graduate from the University of Maine who earned a Bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Ecology. Over the past four years he has worked on many different amphibian research projects in Maine, Arizona, and Montana with varying goals and research interests. He is currently working in the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Conservation Biology as a scientific research assistant.  Read More
Lydia Kifner
Lydia Kifner
Lydia Kifner joined the vernal pool team in August 2015 as a Masters student in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. Her research focuses on the biogeochemistry of nutrient and contaminant and their fluxes within the pools.  Read More

Our work is supported by: