UMaine, UMM participating in Common Campus Tree Experiment

The University of Maine and University of Maine at Machias are two of eight education campuses in Maine participating in the three-year Common Campus Tree Experiment to evaluate the growth of eastern North American coniferous and deciduous species in a changing climate.

The three-year research project, led by forest ecologist Nicholas Fisichelli of Schoodic Institute at Acadia National Park, will evaluate growth, survival and phenology of the tree species.

Last spring, seedlings of 12 species were planted in “common gardens” at UMaine, UMM, University of Maine at Farmington, University of Maine at Fort Kent, University of New England, Colby College, Unity College and Schoodic Institute. At each site, nearly 300 seedlings represent species already growing in Maine and species from farther south that are projected to have suitable habitat in Maine in the future.

Studying the seedling responses to a range of climate conditions statewide will contribute to our understanding of which will thrive and which may decline in warmer growing conditions in the future, potentially changing the composition of the Maine forest, according to the researchers.

At UMaine, the project is a Forest Climate Change Initiative of the Center for Research on Sustainable Forests, led by YongJiang Zhang, assistant professor of plant physiology from the School of Biology and Ecology. Eric Jones, associate professor of plant biology, heads the UMM project.