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RCDS Director of Global Studies Joins Citizen Science Team with Earthwatch Institute

This summer, Dan Murray, RCDS Director of Global Studies, joined an Earthwatch citizen science Climate Change: Seas to Trees research team led by principal investigator John Cigliano, PhD, who is the author of Citizen Science for Coastal and Marine Science. The group embarked on a seven-day expedition in Acadia National Park to help scientists assess how ocean acidification and warming affect the biodiversity, structure, and zonation of rocky intertidal communities. Mr. Murray was one of eight other teachers from high schools across the United States who received an Earthwatch Project Kindle Fellowship to participate in the research project and learn how to bring citizen science programs to their schools.

Earthwatch is an international environmental nonprofit whose mission is to engage people worldwide in scientific field research and education to promote the understanding and action necessary for a sustainable environment. The organization reports that the Gulf of Maine has been particularly affected by ocean acidification and warming (OAW). While the effects of OAW on commercially important species, such as clams and oysters, have been well studied in Maine, there is limited evidence available for others, including important intertidal species, such as barnacles and snails.The Climate Change: Seas to Trees research team examined the community structure in the intertidal system and how is it changing over time in response to OAW. In addition, the fellows spent time in the Schoodic Institute labs helping to determine whether microplastic pollution is occurring off of the Schoodic Peninsula and Mount Desert Island, and whether marine organisms are ingesting the particles.

“I came home from my Earthwatch expedition with the realization that we all have a role to play in understanding our climate and changing the way we interact with the environment. The citizen science movement is a powerful way to get our students and faculty directly involved in scientific research.”

– Dan Murray, Director of Global Studies

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