From ticks to toxins, symposium explores climate change ramifications

April 24, 2018

University of Maine faculty and graduate students will present wide-ranging research at the 26th annual Harold W. Borns Jr. Symposium that sheds light on how climate change affects the state and its residents.

Topics of the emerging climate change studies include whether a temperature-related increase in toxic algal blooms could increase the prevalence of a neurodegenerative disease, and how erosion and rising seas are threatening valuable coastal archaeological sites.

Findings also will be shared on whether deer tick range expansion is associated with milder winters and how climate-driven changes in habitat suitability in the Gulf of Maine contributed to increased lobster landings in the early 2010s.

The free, public symposium will be held from noon to 7 p.m. May 1 and from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 2, at Wells Conference Center on the Orono campus. The symposium’s namesake, Professor Emeritus Harold “Hal” Borns, founded the Climate Change Institute (CCI) — then called the Institute for Quaternary Studies — in 1973 at UMaine.

The CCI is one of the nation’s leading centers for exploration and research about the climate of the past, present and future.

“The Borns Symposium once again highlights the findings of UMaine scholars and students working at the cutting edge of climate and society,” says symposium organizer Dan Sandweiss, an archaeologist in the Climate Change Institute and Anthropology Department. “CCI members create new knowledge that is critical to meeting the challenges of climate change now and into the future.”

The symposium also will feature three lectures.

Rolfe Mandel will present the Invited Lecture titled “Landscape Response to Bioclimatic Changes Over the Past 13,000 Years in the Central Great Plains of North America” at 3:45 p.m. May 1. Mandel is the University Distinguished Professor in Anthropology and senior scientist and executive director of the Odyssey Research Program at the Kansas Geological Survey at the University of Kansas.

Andrew Cohen will present the David Clayton Smith Lecture at 6 p.m. May 1. Cohen is the Distinguished Professor of Geosciences and joint professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona. His lecture is titled “Scientific Drilling in the Ancient Lake Deposits of the African Rift Valley: A 3.5 Million Year Archive of Tropical Ecosystem History.”

Smith, who died in 2009 at age 80, was a UMaine professor of history and an expert in climate history, as well as Maine and New England history, and American agricultural and forest history.

Bess Koffman, who earned a Ph.D. in Earth and climate sciences in 2013 at UMaine, will deliver the Invited University of Maine Alumna Lecture at 11:30 a.m. May 2. The Colby College assistant professor of geology will discuss “Dust, Ash and Climate: Tracing Sources and Impacts in the Subarctic Pacific Ocean.”

Four awards will be presented at the event: the Churchill Award for Outstanding Exploration, Harold W. Borns Symposium Best Presentation Award, Harold W. Borns Symposium Best Poster Award, and Student Outstanding Service Award.

To request an accommodation, contact 581.3406, More information is on the CCI website.