My postdoctoral research explores conservation challenges for plant communities above treeline in Maine through a paleoecological perspective on subalpine and alpine vegetation in the Northeast United States. While Maine's relatively low treeline allows alpine and subalpine vegetation to persist at low elevations, the mountains themselves are small; these islands of alpine and subalpine habitat are further isolated by management — federal and state agencies and non-governmental organizations with varying conservation mandates and resources own and manage the scattered pockets of land above treeline across the state. I plan to survey, compile, and publish the management positions, policies, and challenges for alpine and subalpine vegetation across federal, state, and other conservation land in Maine. I will collect lake sediment cores and reconstruct the history of tundra habitat on two landmark mountains in Maine since the Laurentide glacial retreat using palynology. And, I will reconstruct the recent distribution of alpine vegetation on these two landmark mountains since the beginning of herbaria collection in New England using novel methods for improving the imprecise geographic locations recorded by collectors.
My PhD research focused on long-term changes in flowering phenology and local abundance across plant communities in the Northeast. I explored inter- and intra-specific variation in the responses of plant taxa to climate change, the range of plasticity in leaf out and flowering phenology, and their potential effects on population size. I began working at Acadia National Park as a 2011 George Melendez Wright Climate Change Fellow. At Acadia, I used Edward Rand and John Redfield’s 1894 Flora of Mount Desert Island and a decade of field notes from Rand’s Harvard colleagues, the Champlain Society, to study historical abundances for the island’s flora. I also digitized over 5,000 herbarium specimens collected on the island over the past 125 years. In the field, I established a leaf out and flowering phenology monitoring program across three North-South ridges on Mount Desert Island. I also installed three reciprocal transplant gardens on Cadillac Mountain to test the relative effects of environmental cues and genetic differences at the population level on spring phenology for three understory plant species. I worked with undergraduate students from College of the Atlantic to monitor phenology along the ridge transects and in the gardens.
I volunteered as a field assistant for the Plants of Baxter State Park Project in 2012-2014.
As a master’s student in the Field Naturalist Program at University of Vermont, I worked with the Appalachian Mountain Club to assess a citizen science program monitoring alpine flower phenology. We published this work in Biological Conservation. At UVM, I also co-authored a Landscape Assessment for the LeDuc Farm property in South Burlington, Vermont.
In 2007, I worked as a canopy biodiversity research assistant with The Nature Conservancy in Washington’s Ellsworth Creek Preserve. My team compared arthropod biodiversity levels between old growth and young stands in the Willapa Hills; I learned single-rope techniques for climbing trees and had my photograph featured in many TNC publications.