Biodiversity Research Institute

Portland, ME, United States

Biodiversity Research Institute

Portland, ME, United States
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Haney J.C.,Terra Mar Applied science LLC | Jodice P.G.R.,U.S. Geological Survey | Montevecchi W.A.,Memorial University of Newfoundland | Evers D.C.,Biodiversity Research Institute
Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology | Year: 2017

We synthesize impediments for evaluating effects to seabirds from open ocean hydrocarbon releases. Effects on seabirds from ship discharges, spills, and well blowouts often are poorly detected and monitored far from land. Regulatory regimes for ocean spills can result in monitoring efforts that are not entirely transparent. We illustrate how interdisciplinary technologies address deficits that hamper individual or population level assessments for seabirds, and we demonstrate where emerging technologies might be engaged to bridge gaps in oil spill monitoring. Although acute mortality from direct oil exposure poses the greatest risk to seabirds, other hazards from light-attraction, flaring, collisions, chronic pollution, and hydrocarbon inhalation around oil infrastructure also may induce bird mortality in the deep ocean. © 2017, The Author(s).

Wiener J.G.,University of Wisconsin-La Crosse | Evers D.C.,Biodiversity Research Institute | Gay D.A.,Illinois State Water Survey | Morrison H.A.,Environment Canada | Williams K.A.,Biodiversity Research Institute
Environmental Pollution | Year: 2012

The Laurentian Great Lakes region of North America contains substantial aquatic resources and mercury-contaminated landscapes, fish, and wildlife. This special issue emanated from a bi-national synthesis of data from monitoring programs and case studies of mercury in the region, here defined as including the Great Lakes, the eight U.S. states bordering the Great Lakes, the province of Ontario, and Lake Champlain. We provide a retrospective overview of the regional mercury problem and summarize new findings from the synthesis papers and case studies that follow. Papers in this issue examine the chronology of mercury accumulation in lakes, the importance of wet and dry atmospheric deposition and evasion to regional mercury budgets, the influence of land-water linkages on mercury contamination of surface waters, the bioaccumulation of methylmercury in aquatic foods webs; and ecological and health risks associated with methylmercury in a regionally important prey fish. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Williams K.A.,University of Florida | Williams K.A.,BioDiversity Research Institute | Frederick P.C.,University of Florida | Nichols J.D.,U.S. Geological Survey
Ecology | Year: 2011

Many populations of animals are fluid in both space and time, making estimation of numbers difficult. Much attention has been devoted to estimation of bias in detection of animals that are present at the time of survey. However, an equally important problem is estimation of population size when all animals are not present on all survey occasions. Here, we showcase use of the superpopulation approach to capture-recapture modeling for estimating populations where group membership is asynchronous, and where considerable overlap in group membership among sampling occasions may occur. We estimate total population size of long-legged wading bird (Great Egret and White Ibis) breeding colonies from aerial observations of individually identifiable nests at various times in the nesting season. Initiation and termination of nests were analogous to entry and departure from a population. Estimates using the superpopulation approach were 47-382% larger than peak aerial counts of the same colonies. Our results indicate that the use of the superpopulation approach to model nesting asynchrony provides a considerably less biased and more efficient estimate of nesting activity than traditional methods. We suggest that this approach may also be used to derive population estimates in a variety of situations where group membership is fluid. © 2011 by the Ecological Society of America.

Scoville S.A.,Eastern Virginia Medical School | Lane O.P.,Biodiversity Research Institute
Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology | Year: 2013

A fledged, 12-15 day-old saltmarsh sparrow, Ammodramus caudacutus, was collected from an accidental kill on Cinder Island, Long Island, NY, USA. The sparrow was assessed for feather mercury levels and the brain analyzed for cerebellar abnormalities by microscopic examination. In humans, fetal Minamata disease is caused by maternal ingestion of mercury. It is characterized by disrupted and disordered cerebellar neuronal migration in the fetus or infant. Results from this sparrow show cerebellar abnormalities typical of Minamata disease. It is the first known avian or mammalian specimen taken from the wild to show the abnormalities typical of the human fetal syndrome. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media New York.

Stenhouse I.J.,BioDiversity Research Institute | Egevang C.,Greenland Institute of Natural Resources | Phillips R.A.,Natural Environment Research Council
Ibis | Year: 2012

The migrations and winter distributions of most seabirds, particularly small pelagic species, remain poorly understood despite their potential as indicators of marine ecosystem health. Here we report the use of miniature archival light loggers (geolocators) to track the annual migration of Sabine's Gull Larus sabini, a small (c. 200g) Arctic-breeding larid. We describe their migratory routes and identify previously unknown staging sites in the Atlantic Ocean, as well as their main Atlantic wintering area in the southern hemisphere. Sabine's Gulls breeding in northeast Greenland displayed an average annual migration of almost 32000km (n=6), with the longest return journey spanning close to 39000km (not including local movements at staging sites or within the wintering area). On their southern migration, they spent an average of 45days in the Bay of Biscay and Iberian Sea, off the coasts of France, Spain and Portugal. They all wintered in close association with the cold waters of the Benguela Upwelling, spending an average of 152days in that area. On their return north, Sabine's Gulls staged off the west African coast (Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal), spending on average 19days at this site. This leg of migration was particularly rapid, birds travelling an average of 813km/day, assisted by the prevailing winds. Sabine's Gulls generally followed a similar path on their outbound and return migrations, and did not exhibit the broad figure-of-eight pattern (anti clockwise in the southern hemisphere and clockwise in the northern hemisphere) seen in other trans-equatorial seabirds in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. © 2011 The Authors. Ibis © 2011 British Ornithologists' Union.

Edmonds S.T.,Acadia University | Edmonds S.T.,Biodiversity Research Institute | O'Driscoll N.J.,Acadia University | Hillier N.K.,Acadia University | And 2 more authors.
Environmental Pollution | Year: 2012

Rusty blackbirds are undergoing rapid population decline and have elevated Hg concentrations while breeding in the Acadian ecoregion of North America. Factors regulating the bioavailability of methyl-Hg (MeHg) within this population's habitat were determined using water, invertebrates, and blood from adult rusty blackbirds collected for Hg-speciation, along with additional water column parameters: MeHg and THg, dissolved organic carbon, pH, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, redox potential, and temperature. Both DO2 and pH were negatively related to biota MeHg, while water MeHg concentrations were positively related. Both invertebrate MeHg concentration and %MeHg increased with trophic level. Invertebrate MeHg concentrations were among the greatest reported when compared with those reported elsewhere for wetlands and waterbodies - often several times greater for similar taxa - while percent MeHg of THg were similar. An environment with high bioavailability of MeHg in combination with a high trophic position best explains elevated Hg concentrations for this species regional population. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Spagnuolo V.A.,Biodiversity Research Institute
Waterbirds | Year: 2014

Common Loons (Gavia immer) recolonized Massachusetts in 1975 from a single breeding pair on the Quabbin Reservoir. Since then, the population has grown to 33 pairs that occupy 14 lakes, but the full recovery potential of the population is unknown. This study analyzed population data and habitat suitability, as well as compared population dynamics, of the Common Loon population in Massachusetts to the Common Loon population in New Hampshire to determine if a recovery similar to the one seen in New Hampshire is possible. Results indicated that a large-scale recovery may be possible as enough suitable habitat exists to support about 300 pairs statewide. Current population stresses have not led to a decline; thus, management efforts can be increased to encourage further growth. Due to a small initial population, some aspects of a small population paradigm and an allee affect may have contributed to the slow population growth since 1975 as compared to Vermont and New Hampshire.

Wada H.,Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University | Yates D.E.,BioDiversity Research Institute | Evers D.C.,BioDiversity Research Institute | Taylor R.J.,Texas A&M University | Hopkins W.A.,Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Ecotoxicology | Year: 2010

Much of the research on mercury (Hg) in wild vertebrates has focused on piscivores and other animals at high trophic levels. However, recent studies indicated that insectivorous terrestrial vertebrates may also be at risk. In the present study, we examined blood and fur Hg concentrations as well as the adrenocortical responses of insectivorous big brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus) near the Hg-contaminated South River, VA and a nearby reference area. Baseline glucocorticoids and adrenocortical responses to handling have been widely used to assess the influence of environmental stressors because plasma glucocorticoids rise in response to various physical, psychological, and physiological challenges. Female bats captured at the contaminated site had 2.6 times higher blood and fur Hg concentrations than those captured at the reference site (blood: 0.11 vs. 0.04 μg/g wet weight; fur: 28.0 vs. 10.9 μg/g fresh weight). Fur Hg concentrations at the contaminated site were higher than most wild omnivorous and carnivorous mammals reported in the literature. Although fur and blood Hg concentrations were tightly correlated, fur Hg concentrations averaged 260 times higher than concentrations in blood. This suggests that fur may be an important depuration route for bats, just as it is in other mammals. Despite the high Hg concentrations in bat tissue, we did not observe any site difference in adrenocortical responses. Our results suggest that the bats at the contaminated site were exposed to Hg concentrations below those causing adverse effects on their adrenal axis. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

News Article | October 5, 2016

Job-application letters (or cover or covering letters, as they're variously termed) may seem like mere formalities. But if you plan to apply for a science-related position, particularly in the academic, non-profit and industrial sectors, you need to write a spectacular one. The document remains your first and best opportunity to act as both agent and salesperson for yourself: if it's done properly, only this component of your entire application package can simultaneously act as introduction, first-stage filter and cogent, compelling argument for your candidacy. Not until the interview — if you get one — will you have another chance to show why you are the best choice for the job. Researcher applicants who want their cover letter to sparkle need to craft a document that's customized to the position. The letter should concisely explain how your competencies fit the criteria specific to the job, convey your excitement about the position and reveal some of your personality. It should also avoid hyperbole, typographical and other errors and exact duplication of points on your CV or résumé. Some employers — particularly government agencies and organizations with a specialized online-only application process — do not welcome or use cover letters. But aside from these exceptions, it's best, hirers say, to include a letter, unless a job advert specifically bans it. The document remains an integral part of the recruitment process in industry and academia and for many non-profit organizations. Why is it so important? Without one, say hiring managers, it can be tricky to identify the best candidates through their CVs and other application materials alone. These often start to sound drearily similar, says Karen Noble, head of research training and fellowships at Cancer Research UK (CRUK) in London, who frequently reviews applications for jobs in grant management or research administration. “Most people have done a PhD, they may have done a postdoc and they are now looking to be involved in administration,” she says. “I want to see why they want to join the organization, and why this job.” She says that an applicant's cover letter to CRUK should make it clear that the candidate has carefully studied the job description, and it should provide specific examples of how their skill set and experience meet the position's requirements. Hirers also stress that it is crucial to convey in your application letter that you've learnt as much as possible about the organization and specific job for which you're applying, and that you're not sending a generic submission. What a hiring manager at one company or organization may find powerful and persuasive in a cover letter may be viewed by their counterpart at another organization as irrelevant. It's also important to spell out exactly how your abilities and interests align with the position, says Aaron Genest, who recruits candidates as part of his job with software firm Solido Design Automation in Saskatchewan, Canada. Because it's rare that an applicant's background exactly matches all of the criteria that hirers seek, it can help to make it clear in your letter that you are willing to do what is necessary to learn the specific skills that the hiring organization needs, such as by taking a course. When all else is equal — background, education, skills, talents and abilities — getting the job is often down to your personality and how well you might fit in with the team. Outside an in-person interview, only your cover letter can offer a glimpse of your persona and disposition. Kevin Wang, a recruiter at biotech firm Stemcell Technologies in Vancouver, Canada, says that an applicant's 'personal brand', or individuality, is best conveyed in story form in the letter. You might, he suggests, write briefly about a time when you demonstrated your excellence at teamwork or problem solving, or explain in a concise way why you want the job. If you can link a personal interest to the position in some way, you should do so. Wang, who takes part in triathlons, says that if he were writing a cover letter for himself, he would probably include how triathlon training has taught him to be resilient and tenacious in the face of challenges. Similarly, if you're enthusiastic and excited about the potential job, you should judiciously express that emotion. Cover letters often say things such as “I look forward to working with X”, but you could express this more enthusiastically and with a bit more animation, says Iain Stenhouse, senior science director at the Biodiversity Research Institute in Portland, Maine. Cover letters that are vibrant and creative (but not outlandish) spur him to spend more time on the applicant's CV, he says. “They're where a candidate can really separate themselves from the pack.” The importance of a cover letter may vary depending on whether you're applying for a position in industry, a non-profit organization or academia. So before agonizing over your letter, check to make sure it is needed at all. For example, cover letters are not part of the standard application package for some US federal government jobs, such as those at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). “I haven't seen a cover letter in years,” says Richard Merrick, chief science adviser for NOAA Fisheries in Silver Spring, Maryland. Similarly, they are not used in the highly specialized hiring process at Diamond Light Source, the United Kingdom's synchrotron science facility in Didcot. Diamond's chief executive, Andrew Harrison, explains that the organization aims to standardize the hiring process, because some candidates who work with headhunters may not write the letters themselves. Some academic institutions also do not consider cover letters to be crucial. Yvonne Buckley, hiring lead for zoology at Trinity College Dublin, says that it is only a single component of an application package, along with a CV and teaching and research statements. But although hiring committees may not read a letter if the other materials provide all of the necessary information, she says, candidates should not necessarily abandon the practice of including one. Especially in academia, where CVs can run to many pages, a cover letter can help to highlight achievements that relate to the job description and point committee members to where they can find more specific or detailed information. It is important to remember that there is no line-by-line blueprint for a successful application document, save the need to tailor it to the hiring organization and the specific position. And although standing out is desirable, you do not want to do so for negative reasons. Recruiters and hiring managers warn that you need to make sure not to kick yourself out of the running because of mistakes or missteps that you could easily have avoided (see 'Tips for effective cover letters'), such as addressing the letter to the wrong person, making typographical or grammatical errors or including inadvertent leftovers from a previous application. “If someone is unable to express him- or herself without errors, that is an immediate reject,” says Genest. Another common issue is length. Outside academic environments, in which a two-page letter is common, recruiters emphasize that a carefully crafted one-page cover letter is enough. “A cover letter is not a book,” says Monika Lips-Sandmeier, a human-resources specialist at the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research in Birmensdorf. A catalogue of your accomplishments, or anything else, will also act as a black mark against you. “Lists are deadly,” says Genest. And although no one wants their application to be ignored, hiring managers warn that unorthodox attempts to stand out can backfire. At a careers fair, recruiter Lisa Knutson-Sealey once received a cover letter that was printed on fluorescent pink paper in bold type and a hard-to-read font. So, too, was the rest of the application. “It was just painful to look at,” says Knutson-Sealey, who hires researchers and others for the Washington State Department of Ecology. It shouldn't really be a surprise to learn that the candidate did not get an interview.

News Article | September 27, 2016

A team of researchers of the Faculty of Biology and the Biodiversity Research Institute of the University of Barcelona (IRBio), together with the staff of the Natural Park of Montgrí, Medes Islands and Baix Ter, and the Catalan firefighter service removed a fishing net abandoned in the Marine Reserve of the Medes Islands (Girona, Spain) this September.

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