Endangered Beetle Having Trouble Surviving on Nantucket

NEWS November 28, 2016

Contact: Lauren Berlin

508-228-9198 or lberlin@mariamitchell.orgABB measuring 6-14-16

Endangered Beetle Having Trouble Surviving on Nantucket

Nantucket, MA

The American burying beetle, the largest and most visually striking of America’s carrion beetles, was reintroduced to Nantucket Island in 1994 as a part of an effort to save this federally endangered species.  About the size of a wine cork with a black body and bright orange markings, the American burying beetle disappeared from most of the eastern United States in the last 100 years.  A recent paper published in the Journal of Insect Conservation (http://rdcu.be/mLij) by scientists at the Maria Mitchell Association and the Roger Williams Park Zoo suggest the Nantucket population cannot survive without continued human assistance.

“This species has to find and bury a dead bird or rodent about the size of a rat to successfully reproduce and few places in the U.S. have enough animals like that anymore,” says Andrew Mckenna-Foster, lead author of the paper and the former Director of Natural Science at the Maria Mitchell Association.  “These beetles are extremely efficient recyclers of dead animals.  The American burying beetles evolved to specialize on certain sized carrion, possibly the now-extinct passenger pigeon, and we think a loss of bird species and an increase in competition from animals like opossum have made life very difficult for them,” continues Mckenna-Foster.

The published paper outlines successful reintroduction methods for Nantucket and provides a recipe to re-establish the population.  The researchers provided carrion in the form of quail carcasses to the beetles and saw the population rise to a peak of 212 beetles in 2011.  After reducing the number of quail provided, they watched the population drop to only 24 beetles in 2016.  Changes to field methods and careful record keeping allowed them to make conclusions on why the population decreased.  This comprehensive knowledge about the Nantucket population opens up new avenues of research.  Ultimately, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is responsible for the Nantucket population and deliberations are underway to determine next steps. “The MMA is proud to be intimately involved with this important reintroduction of an endangered invertebrate. It is important to note that this is the longest running introductory effort of an endangered invertebrate in the US” states David Gagnon, Executive Director of the Maria Mitchell Association.

This work is important because it supports the hypothesis that a reduction in carrion is primarily responsible for the decline and this is probably true across the U.S.  Since the late 1800s, humans have drastically changed ecosystems around the world and one result has been a simple reduction of the number of animals out there.  “It’s easy to notice when a big species like the Carolina Parakeet goes extinct due to hunting.  But it’s also easy to overlook what happens to all the species that depended on that bird.  We’re starting to understand how species extinctions have sent reverberations through the ecosystem as a whole” says Mckenna-Foster.

Research on the American burying beetles on Nantucket will continue in 2017.  More information on this species and many other rare or common birds, plants, fish, and insects can be found at the Maria Mitchell Natural Science Museum or contact the association if you would like a digital copy of the publication.

The Maria Mitchell Association is named after America’s first female astronomer, Maria Mitchell.  She is known for discovering a comet over Nantucket in October 1847.  She went on to become the first professor at Vassar College. The Maria Mitchell Association was founded in 1902 to preserve her legacy of scientific achievement and to carry on her passion for hands-on learning. Today, the Maria Mitchell Association operates two observatories (Loines and the Maria Mitchell Observatory), as well as the MMA Aquarium, the Natural Science Museum, and the birthplace of Maria Mitchell.  More information about the Maria Mitchell Association can be found at www.mariamitchell.org.

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The Maria Mitchell Association Exceeds Matching Grant from the Triad Foundation

NEWS October 24, 2016
Contact: Lauren Berlin
508-228-9198 or lberlin@mariamitchell.org

The Maria Mitchell Association Exceeds Matching Grant from the Triad Foundation

Funds to be used to expand marine research in Nantucket waters

Nantucket, MA – This past August, the Maria Mitchell Association (MMA), Nantucket’s Science Center, received a $15,000 matching grant to fund marine research for on-island and visiting scientists from the Triad Foundation.  Nearly one month ahead of the Triad Foundation’s November 18 deadline, the MMA exceeded the match.  A total for sixty individuals made donations totaling nearly $18,000 as of October 15, nearly $3,000 above the goal.  This means the MMA has received $30,000 towards its important research concerning Nantucket’s waters.

“Our members and supporters are passionate about Nantucket and its surrounding waters. That’s why they rose to the challenge and took the opportunity to double their donation for a cause that resonates with their interest.  Best of all, the combination of the grant and donations will provide much needed funds to maintain our Aquarium and marine research programs in Nantucket waters,” says David Gagnon, Executive Director of the Maria Mitchell Association.

The grant will also help fund the cost of maintaining the MMA’s 15-foot Boston Whaler.  The boat is used for a variety of research projects including mooring effects on eelgrass, harbor phytoplankton biodiversity, and barrier dune snake surveys.

In addition to meeting local research needs, the boat and MMA Aquarium is available to visiting scientists to further their research. The MMA works with a variety of scientists and organizations including the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution which this summer conducted local research on non-native tunicates and rare jellyfish.

The Maria Mitchell Association is named after America’s first female astronomer, Maria Mitchell.  She is known for discovering a comet over Nantucket in October 1847.  She went on to become the first professor at Vassar College. The Maria Mitchell Association was founded in 1902 to preserve her legacy of scientific achievement and to carry on her passion for hands-on learning. Today, the Maria Mitchell Association operates two observatories (Loines and the Maria Mitchell Observatory), as well as the MMA Aquarium, the Natural Science Museum, and the birthplace of Maria Mitchell.  More information about the Maria Mitchell Association can be found at www.mariamitchell.org.

 

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Women’s Chorus of Nantucket Performs at Loines Observatory

NEWS
October 21, 2016
Contact: Lauren Berlin
508-228-9198 or lberlin@mariamitchell.org

 Women’s Chorus of Nantucket Performs at Loines Observatory

Nantucket, MA – Set against a spectacular night sky, and a warm October night, the Women’s Chorus of Nantucket offered their voices to the heavens with three star-themed songs at the Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association’s Loines Observatory. The performance was held on Wednesday, October 19th at an event celebrating the extraordinary women of Nantucket.  The evening was hosted by the Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association, Nantucket’s Science Center (MMA).

With nearly twenty members, the Chorus sang three songs on the deck of the Observatory under the stars.  Guests particularly enjoyed their rendition of the 1934 song “Blue Moon” made popular by the doo-wop group, The Marcels, in 1961. Under the direction of Barbara Elder, the Women’s Chorus of Nantucket practice weekly at the Nantucket Community Music Center. The Chorus is open to all community members and includes performers of all levels

In addition to the music, guests enjoyed wine and cheese along with some Halloween treats.  Following the concert, guests and performers viewed the night sky through Loines Observatory’s state-of-the-art 24-inch research telescope and through the refurbished 8-inch historic Clark telescope.  The MMA’s Director of Astronomy, Dr. Regina Jorgenson, also took the group on a tour of the constellations and Jascin Finger, MMA’s Curator, spoke about Maria Mitchell’s contributions to science and Nantucket Island.

“This was such a great partnership, bringing the music of the Women’s Chorus of Nantucket to the Loines Observatory.  It is one of those cases where art and science came together and resulted in a wonderful evening,” says David Gagnon, Executive Director of the Maria Mitchell Association. “Besides a great performance and a spectacular night sky above, it was a wonderful community event that brought friends together and provided an opportunity to make new ones,” he adds.

The Maria Mitchell Association is named after America’s first female astronomer, Maria Mitchell.  She is known for discovering a comet over Nantucket in October 1847.  She went on to become the first professor at Vassar College. The Maria Mitchell Association was founded in 1902 to preserve her legacy of scientific achievement and to carry on her passion for hands-on learning. Today, the Maria Mitchell Association operates two observatories (Loines and the Maria Mitchell Observatory), as well as the MMA Aquarium, the Natural Science Museum, and the birthplace of Maria Mitchell.  More information about the Maria Mitchell Association can be found at www.mariamitchell.org.

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Bloom Family Establishes Maria Mitchell Association Camp Scholarship Fund in Memory of Son, Adam Bloom

Nantucket, MA –Susan and Howard Bloom have announced Adam Bloom photothe Adam Bloom Scholarship Fund for children interested in participating in the Maria Mitchell Association’s (MMA) winter and spring vacation camp programs which will be again running in December and April. Applications, available at www.mariamitchell.org, are now being accepted for the MMA’s Winter Discovery Camp which will run December 27th – 30th. Over these four days, campers will understand how nature inspires artists, engineers, and new technologies. They will explore a variety of habitats, design outdoor sculptures, create their own animal superhero, build robots, and learn about the significance of MMA’s scientific collections. They will also build a Nantucket nature collection of their own to take home. This camp is appropriate for ages 7-11 years.

According to Sue and Howard Bloom, “Throughout Adam’s life, he had a keen interest in the world around him. He could often be found with his sister and friends, exploring the beaches and marshes throughout Nantucket looking for crabs, fish, and any other creatures they could find. His passion was inspired by his participation in many of the camp programs at the Maria Mitchell Association. As a child, Adam could be found continuing or repeating the activities that he learned to do at camp that day. He was a budding young naturalist.”

“The Adam Bloom Scholarship Fund will enable island children the opportunity to enjoy these very popular camps and experience the joy of ‘learning by doing’ on our beautiful island. We are deeply grateful that the Blooms and their generous friends decided to create a fund in memory of Adam at the Maria Mitchell Association,” stated David Gagnon, the MMA’s Executive Director. He also added that this is an ongoing scholarship and that additional donations for the scholarship are encouraged and welcome.

The Maria Mitchell Association is a private non-profit organization. Founded in 1902, the MMA works to preserve the legacy of Nantucket native astronomer, naturalist, librarian, and educator, Maria Mitchell. The Maria Mitchell Association operates two observatories, a natural science museum, an aquarium, and preserves the historic birthplace of Maria Mitchell. A wide variety of science and history-related programming is offered throughout the year for people of all ages.

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The Maria Mitchell Association Releases Denizens of the Deep at Annual Aquarium Release Day

Nantucket, MA – The Maria Mitchell Association, Nantucket’s Science Center, sent the marine creatures in its seasonal public aquarium back to the ocean with a spirited send-off on Saturday, September 3rd.
More than 300 people released 404 animals from the tanks to the edge of the Harbor behind the MMA Aquarium with the help of volunteers and staff. Release Day is an annual event for the MMA Aquarium as it prepares to close the facility for the season. These animals served as ambassadors to the aquatic world for the thousands of summer visitors to the Aquarium.
“We are excited when we catch specimens at the start of the summer season and are eager to share their natural history with visitors. This collection of fish, crabs, shellfish and even sharks, represents the biodiversity of Nantucket Harbor. We are just as excited to release them back to the Harbor at the end of the season. And from the number of people who were present, it is obvious that the public loves this annual ritual,” says Dave Gagnon, Executive Director of the Maria Mitchell Association.
During Release Day, a total of 211 fish were returned to the ocean, along with sixty-six crabs, four sharks, 111 shellfish and mollusks, and a dozen other marine creatures. At the event, the public were invited to make donations to the MMA Aquarium. The MMA Aquarium received a $15,000 matching grant from the Triad Foundation and nearly $6,000 has already been raised. The matching grant will be utilized for Aquarium improvements and marine research.
The Maria Mitchell Association is a private non-profit organization. Founded in 1902, the MMA works to preserve the legacy of Nantucket native astronomer, naturalist, librarian, and educator, Maria Mitchell. The Maria Mitchell Association operates two observatories, a natural science museum, an aquarium, and preserves the historic birthplace of Maria Mitchell. A wide variety of science and history-related programming is offered throughout the year for people of all ages.
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Human and Environmental Effects of Light at Night

On Tuesday, August 30, Dr. Mario E. Motta presented during our Science Speaker Series.  Dr. Motta is a Cardiologist at North Shore Medical Center and Partner at North Shore Cardiovascular Associates.  In his presentation, Dr. Motta explained the effects of light pollution and the best practices for the change over to efficient LED lighting.

If you missed this great lecture, you can see the PowerPoint below.  More information on light pollution can be found on our website here.

Maria Mitchel-2016-LED

Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association Astronomy Research Student Selected as a Delegate for the Stanford U.S.-Russia Forum

NEWS August 31, 2016
Contact: Lauren Berlin
508-228-9198 or lberlin@mariamitchell.org

Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association Astronomy Research Student Selected as a Delegate for the Stanford U.S.-Russia Forum

Tanveer

Nantucket, MA

The Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association (NMMA) is excited to announce and congratulate one of its own National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates (NSF-REU) sponsored astronomy interns, Tanveer Karim, for being selected as a delegate for the prestigious Stanford U.S.-Russia Forum. Tanveer, who attends the University of Rochester, is one of thirty-one students, and one of the ten undergraduate students, selected out of over 600 students who applied. Tanveer spent this summer working as one of six NSF-REU students at the NMMA where he conducted research on gaseous outflows from the Milky Way Galaxy. In addition to his research, he worked at the Loines Observatory Public Open Nights, where he led visitors on constellation tours of Nantucket’s night skies.

The Stanford U.S.-Russia Forum is a student-led forum that is dedicated to bringing American and Russian students together for research in science, business, economics and other policies in order to promote collaboration and dialogue between students from the two countries. The goal of this forum is to come up with ideas that will help solve real world problems pertaining to the relation between the U.S. and Russia. Delegates of the Forum write policy proposals and white papers that are distributed among individuals and organizations who influence U.S.-Russia relations. The delegates will attend two conferences, one in Moscow and the other one in Stanford, to discuss their work with leading experts in policymaking, academia, and other fields. Past speakers have included Condoleezza Rice, the 66th U.S. Secretary of State, Arkady Dvorkovich, the Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, and other renowned world experts.

As part of the Forum, Tanveer will be a delegate for the Science, Engineering, and Technology Collaboration working group. He, along with his working group, will identify an issue that is related to scientific collaboration between the U.S. and Russia and find possible solutions. He will be attending the conference in Moscow in November to present the initial findings of his investigation.

The Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association is named after America’s first female astronomer, Maria Mitchell.  She is known for discovering a comet over Nantucket in October 1847.  She went on to become the first professor hired by Vassar College. The NMMA was founded in 1902 to preserve her legacy of scientific achievement and to carry on her passion for hands-on learning. Today, the NMMA operates two observatories (Loines and the Maria Mitchell Observatory), as well as the NMMA Aquarium, the Hinchman House Natural Science Museum, and the birthplace of Maria Mitchell.  More information about the Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association can be found at www.mariamitchell.org.

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MMA Education Director Working on State Environmental Literacy Plan

MMA is pleased to announce that our Director of Education, Kim Botelho, was elected Clerk and is now representing the Massachusetts Environmental Education Society (MEES) on the development of the state’s Environmental Literacy Plan (MassELP).   During the MEES annual conference on March 9, 2016, when Phase 1: A Case for Advancing an Environmental Literacy in Massachusetts was released, she presented to 250 educators from all over the state and called them to action to help promote this environmental literacy movement.

 In a follow up letter to teachers, Kim explained that “one of the ultimate goals for states working on ELPs is to get them adopted by their state Department of Education so that environmental education (EE) is integrated into the curriculum in every public school across that state.  How amazing would that be!  As you all know, taking kids outside to learn has so many benefits even beyond building an appreciation for the environment and a greater understanding of ecological processes.  Research shows that environmental education improves student achievement in core subject areas, gets them more engaged in learning,  improves behavior, and so much more.  As indicated in the North American Association for Environmental Education’s ELP Status report, ELPs give teachers and students new opportunities to take learning outside; explore their communities; analyze issues; learn about connections between our economy, society, and environment; support economic growth; and become engaged citizens.  This is the very goal that MEES is working towards. Let’s get EE in every public and private school in MA!!!  Please understand that the intent of this effort is NOT to make a bunch of new standards for teachers to address and test to, but rather, to have them use the outdoors to teach to those standards and subjects that are already required at their schools.”  Kim is now working on compiling best practices in EE from around the state with the goals of (1) increasing public awareness of EE efforts and its importance and (2) gaining more support at the state level for this effort.  If you are a teacher and use the outdoors as your classroom, Kim wants to hear from you and she wants to make sure your community knows about the great work you are doing.   Please send her an email at kbotelho@mariamitchell.org for more information. 

 

To see Phase 1, please visit MassMEES.org or go to: http://massmees.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/MassELP-Phase-I-Summary-FINAL.pdf

 

Birdathon 2016

The Nantucket Birdathon

5pm April 15 – 5pm April 16

The race to see the most birds in 24 hours on Nantucket!

This is the time of year when the MMA and the Linda Loring Nature Foundation (LLNF) raise funds to help preserve scientific specimens and support bird related programs and field trips.  The MMA protects over 1000 bird specimens dating to the late 1800’s and leads two bird walks a week in the summer.  The LLNF property on Eel Point Rd provides excellent bird watching both on its trails and at its array of feeders.  Edie Ray leads a bird walk for LLNF once a week.

The annual Nantucket Birdathon is instrumental in supporting these activities.  Please join birdingus in promoting and preserving Nantucket’s bird life by contributing to the Birdathon.

To support the Nantucket Birdathon, you can pledge an amount per species seen (we see fewer than 140 species and a typical pledge is $0.50 to $1 per species) by calling us at 508-228-9198.  You can mail contributions (download the contribution form here) to:
Maria Mitchell Association
4 Vestal St.
Nantucket MA, 02554

Or donate online! (put Birdathon in the ‘Other’ field for additional information)

If you’d like to join us birding, email Andrew Mckenna-Foster.  For details on the event, view the information page.

Thank you for your support!

Mechanical Mayhem

Mechanical Mayhem is right around the corner! Bring the family to dismantle and investigate all sorts of mechanical things ‘rescued’ from Take It Or Leave It. Learn about circuit boards, motors, and LEDs. Then build and take home a beautiful piece of robot art!

Free. Drop in anytime between 10am and 2pm
Natural Science Museum
7 Milk St.

Click the image for more images

family activity on Nantucket at the Maria Mitchell Association learning science!