The Saco Science Symposium


Does the documented biological diversity of the Saco estuary deserve recognition as a critical natural area in the State of Maine?  Five years of intense research suggests yes. As part of the Maine Sustainability Solutions Initiative, researchers and the Stewardship Network active in the region, learned about the estuary’s ecosystem health and how people benefit from this special place.

Practicing a new approach, called Sustainability Science, researchers from the University of New England and the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve discovered surprising evidence of a restored ecosystem thriving under conditions of improved water quality.

Over one third of all bird species found in the state of Maine are using the Saco estuary.  The estuary is a nursery and feeding ground for 60 species of fish - more documented species than any other estuary in the state. A number of rare and endangered plants, birds and fish species depend upon the Saco estuary. 
What do these discoveries mean for local communities, businesses and the scientific community in light of environmental challenges associated with a growing population, increased land development and climate change?  Please join the research team and members of the Stewardship Network for a conversation about how these scientific findings can be used to protect what people value most about the estuary.
The agenda is listed below.   If you have questions about the Saco Science Symposium contact Dr. Christine Feurt at 207-646-1555 x 111 or

9 a.m.              Sign in & Coffee

9:15                 Welcome

Sustainability Science on the Saco Estuary

Dr. Edward Bilsky, UNE Vice President for Research and Scholarship      

Each presentation will include a participant discussion of management and policy implications

9:30                 Tidal marshes of the Saco - Are they important to protect?

Dr. Pamela Morgan, Department of Environmental Studies

Status and transport of the invasive Phragmites australis in the Saco Estuary

Michele Slater, Department of Marine Science

10:15               The Saco River Estuary food web
Dr. Carrie Byron, Department of Marine Science

Snails, worms and flies: Invertebrate life in the tidal flats and low marshes of the Saco River Estuary

Dr. Anna L. Bass, Department of Marine Science

11:00               Fringing marshes of the Saco River Estuary support high nekton diversity

Dr. Kristin Wilson, Research Director, Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve

11:45               Assessment of the bird community using the Saco River's tidal marshes

Dr. Noah Perlut, Department of Environmental Studies

12:30              Lunch provided and Poster Viewing

1:00                 Diadromous fish assemblage assessment in the Saco River Estuary

                        Kayla Smith, Department of Marine Sciences

1:45                 Development and water quality in the Saco River Watershed.

Dr. Stephan Zeeman, Department of Marine Sciences

2:30                 Sustaining the Saco through science-based policy and stewardship

                        Facilitated discussion

Dr. Christine Feurt, Department of Environmental Studies and Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve

3:00                 Symposium Adjourns



College of Arts and Sciences


Christine Feurt

(207) 646-1555 x111

9:00 AM
Decary Cafe Function Rooms 1-2

Biddeford Campus

Free and open to the public