Watch: Seabirds to Pollinators: Research and Art at Bowdoin College’s Kent Island Research Station

For a wonderful history of this research station, the complicated, quirky journey by which it came into Bowdoin College’s hands, and overview of the research it hosts every summer, watch this presentation by Bowdoin College Professor of Biology Patty Jones. Patty shows wonderful photos of both this remote island south of Grand Manan in the Bay of Fundy and the research station’s ongoing research on Leach’s storm petrels, savannah sparrows, tree sparrows, bumblebees, and more.

Despite the fact that island facilities are somewhat primitive – solar-powered, with limited water and wifi – 20 to 30 students and faculty conduct invaluable research every summer while living on the island.

The island has been used for research for many decades and Patty explains how exceptionally valuable this long-term data collection is, facilitating research on how populations etc change over time. Similarly, the island’s decades-long collection of weather data is critical to climate change research.

Patty conveyed fascinating information about research subjects. Did you know that Leach’s storm petrels live to be over thirty years old and return to the same burrow to nest every year? Or that bumblebees are more effective pollinators of lowbush blueberry because the vibration of their bodies shakes more pollen loose?

She also described what a rich experience this summer research is for her undergraduate students, academically and personally.

In 2019, a boathouse was renovated as an art studio to create a creative space for artists. This will likely enhance the role that artists can play in the summer life of the island and beyond. 

The presentation was livestreamed via Zoom Meeting, so from time to time you’ll see the friendly faces of those listening and asking questions at the end. Watch to the end and you get to meet Patty’s youngest research assistant! Enjoy!