Park Conservation Fellow Lays Groundwork for Incoming Researchers

This year the Second Century Stewardship Fellowship brought research fellow Abbey Paulson to Acadia National Park to study its ecosystem and biodiversity. | Juan David Romero/Bob Hirshon/AAAS

Elizabeth “Abbey” L. Paulson, the first participant in the Second Century Stewardship fellowship program, has been studying multiple aspects of Acadia National Park in Maine as part of a larger effort to promote national park stewardship through ecosystem science and conservation.

Paulson is collecting DNA samples from the park’s soil, freshwater habitats, and intertidal zones to create a census of park biodiversity to help further understanding of how organisms in the park adapt to environmental changes.

“The majority of the biodiversity in the world is microbial … so if you use environmental DNA you can detect all of those things that scientists doing visual surveys would otherwise miss,” said Paulson.

The fellowship, which lasts for up to two years, is now accepting applications for three additional 2017 researchers to study topics ranging from the park’s history and roadways to its geology and the biodiversity of surrounding forests, waterways, wildlife and marine life at Acadia National Park.

Graduate students, postdoctoral candidates, and early-career scientists are encouraged to apply before 17 November. Recipients will receive an award of up to $20,000 and available research housing at Schoodic Institute at Acadia National Park.

The initial $1 million funding for the program came from David Shaw, treasurer at AAAS and executive producer of the film Second Century Stewardship: Science Beyond the Scenery in Acadia National Park.

Organizations partnering with AAAS include the National Park Service and Schoodic Institute at Acadia National Park, which together are seeking high-profile fellows, and to expand the program to the nation’s other national parks.