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UMaine Today Magazine


A map of Maine's ice age

Ice Age Trail
Ice Age Trail

Links related to this story

Down East Maine's Ice Age trail is now mapped in detail in a travelers' guide, newly published by the University of Maine.
The trail stretches from Mount Desert Island north along the state's rugged coast, where, 16,000 years ago, the last great North American continental ice sheet sculpted the mountains of Acadia National Park and left the spectacular sand barrens where Maine's wild blueberry crop grows. Maine's Ice Age Trail: Down East Map & Guide provides directions and information about more than 46 geological features visible or accessible along roads and highways in the state.

Development of the map and guide, spearheaded by UMaine glacial geologist Harold Borns and cartographer Michael Hermann, was funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

A graphic publicizing the trail nationwide is found on 1,200 new moving vans as part of U-Haul International's Venture Across America Campaign.

More information about Maine's Ice Age Trail: Down East Map & Guide is on the Web (

Cash vs. Card

A study of the effectiveness of monetary and nonmonetary incentives in surveys found that more people responded when offered $2 cash than when provided $2 and $5 phone cards, according to findings recently published in the International Journal of Public Opinion Research.

In addition, the research found that those who took the $1 cash or $2 or $5 phone card incentives provided very different survey responses, an indication that biases in data can result by attracting individuals from certain segments of a population.

Resource economists Mario Teisl from the University of Maine and Brian Roe from Ohio State, and Michael Vayda, an associate dean in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the University of Vermont, surveyed people in Maine and throughout the U.S. concerning their perceptions of food and food processing. They also wanted to gauge consumers' knowledge about the prevalence, risks and benefits of genetically modified (GM) foods.

Most of the more than 2,200 responses — 34 percent — came from survey recipients who received $2 incentives.

The response rates were similar using $1 cash, and $2 and $5 phone cards. However, there were important differences across incentive groups in how individuals evaluated the risks and benefits of GM foods.

Crossing the line

The installation of centerline rumble strips and median barriers could significantly reduce or eliminate the number of head-on motor vehicle crashes that result in almost half of all fatalities on Maine rural roads, according to University of Maine Professor of Civil Engineering Per Garder.

Two major reasons were cited for why people cross the centerline and have head-on collisions: speeding and driver inattention.

Garder analyzed three years of Maine Department of Transportation data, from 2000–02, during which there were 3,136 head-on crashes reported. He found more than two out of three of all fatal crashes in Maine during this period occurred on two-lane collector or arterial roads, the result of driver error or misjudgment.

Two in three fatal head-on crashes occurred on straight segments of road and 67 percent of these were on dry pavement.

According to Garder, whose findings were published in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention, higher speed limits lead to a higher percentage of crashes resulting in fatalities or incapacitating injuries. He also found the severity of crashes increases with wider shoulders and more travel lanes.

Parents as academic predictors

Parents' perceptions of their preschoolers' language impairments are the best predictors of the children's reading, writing and math achievement once they get in school, according to a University of Maine study.

The findings, published recently in the Journal of Communication Disorders, support the need to go beyond standardized testing in measuring preschool speech and language. They also underscore the contribution that parental input can make in developing a comprehensive profile of children's communication abilities and an effective plan for managing language impairment.

From a longitudinal database compiled in a National Institutes of Health study, UMaine researchers Nancy Hall and Veronica Segarra looked at what preschool speech and language measures were most predictive of later academic achievement in reading, spelling, writing and math. They studied data compiled on 35 children with language impairments, beginning when they were preschoolers through age 9.

The researchers found that reports of parents were the best predictors of school-age academic achievement because they reflected the children's communicative competence, including skills such as problem solving. Such parental input also can help clinicians and teachers better understand the youngsters' verbal and nonverbal abilities — and treatment needs that are so vital in addressing future academic outcomes.

"Parent input is crucial to understanding a child's speech, language and academic potential," says Hall, an associate professor and chair of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. "It should be sought — and valued."

When the UMaine study began, Veronica Segarra was a high school student in the Math-Science Upward Bound Program. She is now a graduate student at the University of Connecticut in communication sciences and disorders.

For religious reasons

Unmarried adults who are religious are more likely than those who are less religious to have fewer sexual partners, in part because of the moral disapproval of premarital sex, according to a new study by a University of Maine sociologist.

Using data from the national General Social Survey, Steven Barkan found that the religiosity of never-married adults has a consistent, fairly strong and statistically significant deterrent effect on the number of sexual partners. The belief that premarital sex is wrong was a major reason for this effect.

Barkan's study, one of the first to look at the relationship between religiosity and adult sexuality, is part of a growing body of research on the deterrent effect of religion. Most research on religiosity and deviance has involved adolescents.

The findings were recently published in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.

Winning lessons on lady beetles

Invasive lady beetles were in the spotlight in Vienna, Austria, this past fall when University of Maine Ph.D. student Christy Finlayson placed first in the 4th European Conference on Biological Invasions poster competition with her project "Considering Biocontrol and Biological Invasions: An Experimental Unit for Primary and Secondary School Classrooms."

Selected from more than 200 other posters, Finlayson's entry was the only one that focused on education with regard to biological invasions. The poster, created by Finlayson and schoolteachers Charlotte Carrier, Storie Brown and Arthur Libby, was based on her work with fourth–fifth and 10th–12th graders as a National Science Foundation GK–12 Fellow. The GK–12 program connects graduate students with primary and secondary school students and their teachers.

Finlayson's research focuses on lady beetles and the effects of non-native species on native populations in agricultural and natural systems. She says her work as a GK–12 Fellow helped her learn how to speak to people outside of the scientific community about the impact of invasives and what can be done about them.

Finlayson's poster outlined her collaboration with teachers in the Brewer, Bucksport and Hampden school systems, where she used hands-on activities to teach about biocontrol techniques and bioinvasions using lady beetles. The students raised potato plants infested with aphids and tested lady beetles against other methods for controlling the pests. Lady beetles are good predators of aphids, but can, themselves, become invasive.

Eating close to home

Seals are a major cause of loss for salmon farmers. But that loss can be minimized by siting future farms 2.5 miles from seal haul-outs, according to two UMaine wildlife ecologists.

A three-year study found that Maine's marine salmon farms could significantly reduce predation by establishing a minimum distance from seal resting areas and by limiting concentrations of finfish aquaculture sites close to haul-outs.

Wildlife ecologists Jim Gilbert and Marcy Nelson also found that it didn't matter how many harbor seals are found at haul-outs near salmon farms, because it only takes repeated visits by a few insatiable individuals to raise havoc.

Patterns of seal predation were documented at Maine's more than 35 marine salmon farms, located between the bays of Blue Hill and Cobscook. The majority of farm managers in Maine's finfish aquaculture industry say that the greatest predatory threat to stock comes from seals, which are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

The researchers' findings were reported in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences.

Excluding black sheep

Dissension in the ranks can threaten any group. One way to tackle it is by devaluing those who stray from the group's norms. Another is to recategorize the deviate as "not one of us."

In a recent psychology study, real-world groups (i.e., pro-war Republicans) were asked to evaluate a deviant group member before or after setting acceptable boundaries for members' views. Not surprisingly, those who challenged the group were devalued. More interesting, these "black sheep" were evaluated more positively if they first were excluded from the group's boundaries. These findings suggest that devaluation of black sheep had as its goal their removal from the group.

Social psychologist Scott Eidelman from the University of Maine and colleagues from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and the University of Kansas published their findings in a recent issue of the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

Changing owners, changing harvesting

Between 1994 and 2000, almost 80 percent of the industrial forests in a nearly 4.5 million-acre study area in northwestern Maine changed ownership, influencing timber harvest intensity over time.

Using satellite imagery, University of Maine forest scientists Suming Jin and Steven Sader evaluated the timber harvest patterns in an effort to better understand current and future forest composition and structure over multiple ownerships.

During the six-year period, approximately 75 percent of the forestlands were sold to timber investment management organizations, with 25 percent sold to other industrial owners, who then parceled tracts to nongovernment organizations and loggers/short-term investors. The UMaine researchers found that, in the 1990s and early 2000s, timber investment management organizations and logger/short-term investors had higher harvesting rates the than industrial owners. Nonindustrial private forest owners demonstrated more stable rates of harvesting over time.

Forestland with no ownership changes had significantly lower harvest rates than those that changed hands between 1994 and 2000.

Sales of several tracts of timber investment owners' land to loggers between 2000 and 2004 suggest that the timber investment management organizations may be willing to turn over some forest holdings in a shorter time, compared to the nonindustrial owner group.

The researchers' findings were recently published in the journal Forest Ecology and Management.


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