Greenbelt Reservation Plants Used in Climate Resiliency Research
Plants from Greenbelt’s Seine Field in Gloucester are being used in an experimental habitat restoration project over 200 miles to the north at Acadia National Park in Maine.
Christopher Nadeau, a research fellow at Northeastern University, is researching an untested theory called genetic management by evaluating how plants from warmer locations will thrive as climate change warms the average temperatures at Acadia.
His research is focusing on the three-toothed cinquefoil, a common alpine and subalpine plant, which grows in abundance at Seine Field which is one of the warmest locations in New England where it grows.
The plant’s name comes from the three teeth at the tip of each leaflet.
Nadeau has collected 100 cinquefoil plants from the 16-acre Seine Field to plant in common gardens at Acadia, where an active restoration project is underway.
“As a land trust, Greenbelt has continued to focus on doing work today that will also help future generations,” said Kate Bowditch, Greenbelt President. “Climate change has sharpened this focus, and we regularly evaluate our work through the lens of climate.”
The goal at Acadia is increasing the resilience of plants as the climate changes.
“Removing 100 plants from Seine Field might seem like a lot. However, three-toothed cinquefoil is small and highly abundant at Seine Field. The removal of 100 plants should cause very little disturbance to the site,” said Nadeau, who placed a device in Gloucester to monitor air and soil temperature.
At Acadia, he will determine whether bringing in these plants will increase the resilience of existing flora to a changing climate.
“I transported the plants to Acadia National Park and planted them in three raised beds in the park, which we will monitor for the next three years,” said Nadeau. “The plants from Seine Field will join plants from 30 other locations throughout New England.”
The plant, which produces white blossoms in the summer, can be found growing the granite cracks of Cadillac Mountain in the park.
“My research will help determine if genetic management is a feasible and beneficial tool to improve long-term outcomes in these systems,” Nadeau said. “Many conservation practitioners around the globe are considering or implementing assisted gene flow to increase the long-term success of their management efforts. However, few studies have evaluated the costs and benefits.”
Greenbelt is grateful to several professional and staff photographers whose work is featured prominently within our website.
Thank you Jerry Monkman / ecophotography.com, Lynne Holton, Kindra Clineff, Adrian Scholes and John Raleigh.