Research Programs

Listed in order of when each research program begins annually (May-September) on Appledore Island:

SML Tern Conservation Program

Program Director: Dr. Jennifer Seavey (Shoals Marine Laboratory, UNH, and Cornell)

Program Manager: Dr. Elizabeth Craig (Shoals Marine Laboratory)

Supported by the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, the SML Tern Conservation Program implements research, restoration, and management of threatened and endangered terns on White and Seavey Islands in the Isles of Shoals. These islands are New Hampshire’s only successful breeding colony for Common (Sterna hirundo), Roseate (S. dougallii) and Arctic (S. paradisaea) terns, and are therefore a key conservation focus for the state. Current and historic conservation efforts include predator control, habitat management, and the study of diet and foraging behavior to improve conservation outcomes for these seabird populations. In addition to innovation in research and conservation, this program offers SML students the opportunity to experience the world of seabird conservation firsthand through programming in many Shoals Marine Laboratory courses. SML alumni with strong ornithology interests can also apply for research assistantship position.

 

Appledore Island Migration Banding Station Warbler
Appledore Island Migration Station (AIMS)

PI: Dr. Sara Morris (Canisius College & University of New Hampshire)

Each year, thousands of songbirds stop on Appledore Island during migration. The Appledore Island Migration Banding Station studies these migrants during both spring and fall migration. The primary purpose of the station is to study the migration and stopover ecology of Nearctic-Neotropical migrants. Over 120,000 birds have been banded since 1981! (The 120,000th banded bird, pictured at left, was a Myrtle or "yellow-rumped" warbler, Setophaga coronata. Photo thanks to Sara Morris.)

For more information, click here to visit the AIMS website.

MARS Trailer
Mobile Avian Recording Studio (MARS)

PI: Dr. Sara Morris (Canisius College & University of New Hampshire)

Based inside a specially-designed, insulated trailer, a team of undergraduates from Canisius College works each summer to examine songbird calling (vocalizations). The MARS trailer acoustically isolates birds, allowing researchers to study a bird's response to sound cues as well as to see what factors may be affecting the likelihood and rate of calling by individual birds.

Banded Gull Feet
Gull Ecology Research and Gull Banding

PIs: Dr. Julie Ellis (Tufts University)

In order to better study populations of  Herring Gulls (Larus argentatus) and Great Black-backed Gulls (Larus marinus), researchers come to Appledore Island to band both adult and juvenile gulls. The overarching, long-term goals of this study are to understand the interactions between Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls, their population trends in the Gulf of Maine, and the effects that these two species have on coastal marine communities of New England.

Seal Colony
Duck Island Seal Colony Surveys

PIs: Dr. Andrea Bogomolni (WHOI) and Dr. Nadine Lysiak (UMass Boston)

Since 2011, researchers have conducted boat-based surveys of Duck Island, Isles of Shoals and its surrounding ledges. Photographic data is used to doucment harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) and gray seals (Halichoerus grypus) present in the haul out. The surveys aim to provide an estimate of Isles of Shoals seal population numbers, health of the colony, and evidence of injury and entanglement. Surveys take place during the Marine Mammal Internship.

Smuttynose Archaeology
Isles of Shoals Archaeology Project

PIs: Dr. Nathan Hamilton (Univ. of Southern Maine) and Dr. Robin Hadlock Seeley (SML & Cornell University)

The Isles of Shoals are most famous for the colonial fishing station sited on Smuttynose Island that existed in the 17th-19th centuries and whose origin predated the arrival of Puritans to Massachusetts. Further artifacts represent a substantial activity area that appears to date to AD 800-1200 on the basis of artifact styles that include a Levanna point, a side-notched point and a Stemmed point. Excavations during 2009 produced evidence sufficient to designate a prehistoric site, known as the Hubbard-Oberlander Site.

Asterias sea star
Intertidal Transect Studies

PI: Dr. Chris Siddon (Alaska Fish & Game)

SML has accumulated over twenty-five years of data from student transect surveys that detail the distribution and abundance of organisms in both exposed and protected rocky intertidal habitats on Appledore Island in the Gulf of Maine. SML uses the transect studies to teach research methods and focus student observations in the field. Compiling the survey data will allow us to track and document changes around Appledore Island and provide a long-term dataset with baseline information to the broader scientific community. SML students and mentors now collect data as part of our Intertidal Ecology Internship. In the past, data was collected by students in Field Marine Science (I and II), and Field Marine Biology & Ecology courses.

Byrnes Team diver
Subtidal Community Monitoring Project

PI: Dr. Jarrett Byrnes (UMass Boston)

Subtidal monitoring of benthic communities off Appledore Island to gauge effects of global climate change. Research divers conduct surveys in the waters around Appledore for 1-week each summer as part of wider surveys conducted by the Byrnes Lab throughout the Gulf of Maine.

Past Research Highlights

Ian Hewson on Appledore

Team Aquatic Virus

PI: Dr. Ian Hewson (Cornell University)

The Hewson Lab constructed two RNA virus metagenomic datasets, one from water collected in Babb’s Cove and the other from RNA viruses taken from the sediments of Babb’s Cove.

Tom Seeley on Appledore

Honey Bee Behavior

PI: Dr. Tom Seeley (Cornell University)

Seeley established honey bees’ criteria for a nesting site and the way in which the scouts explore potential spaces. Check out PBS's NOVA video about the waggle dance!

UNH AIRMAP
UNH AIRMAP Research Project
Gull Nest Monitoring
Gull Nest Monitoring

PI: Dr. David Bonter (Cornell Lab of Ornithology)

As part of an undergraduate internship program funded in part by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, student researchers spent 10-weeks each summer monitoring the nests and chicks of Herring Gull pairs (Larus argentatus) and Great Black-backed Gull pairs (Larus marinus) on Appledore Island. Nests were monitored from egg lay to fledge.

This work continues as the 'Gull Ecology Research and Gull Banding' project listed above.