Where does wintergreen grow in Maine? Is its range changing?
Species expert and Middle School teacher Sara McQuarrie has noticed that Wintergreen doesn’t grow near where she lives in Patten, Maine. While it is plentiful in most of Maine, she can’t find any north of Baxter State Park. She is curious why it is easy to find wintergreen in some places, but not others. Is wintergreen’s distribution due to soil conditions, temperature, or both?
To answer these questions, Sara is going to need a lot more data! Both where wintergreen is and where it isn’t.
- Print out an upland species and habitat datasheet and the species card for wintergreen.
- Go look for wintergreen. Take note of what the soil is like. Is it wet or dry? You can refer to the guide below under “dive deeper” for identifying soil types. Any soil data you collect can go in your field notes.
- Post your data! Found or not found.
Want to collect soil data? Soil scientists use a bunch of different types of data to categorize soil types. One of the easiest and most informative pieces of data you can collect is the soil texture. From this, scientists can infer a lot about soil conditions. To do this extra step you will need a sample of your soil, some powder dish detergent, and a glass jar. For the full set of instructions, check out the great how-to here.
Why this mission matters
To understand how our climate and ecosystems are changing, scientists need indicator species. Wintergreen could be a great indicator species for studying habitat change if it has a clear distribution in Maine.
The more data we have about how Maine’s ecosystems are changing, the better we can adapt to a changing climate.