Maine Fieldwork Part 2: The Bog

Post by Bob Booth, Associate Professor at Lehigh University; Steve Jackson, Center Director for the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Southwest Climate Science Center; Connor Nolan, Steve’s PhD Student at University of Arizona, and Melissa Berke, Assistant Professor at University of Notre Dame

Read about Maine Fieldwork Part 1.

Maine Fieldwork Part 2
Our adventures in bog coring, lobster consumption, dehydration, lake scouting, dipteran-slapping, and driving (lots of driving) began on July 6 when Bob Booth, Steve Jackson, Melissa Berke, and Connor Nolan rendezvoused in Portland, Maine, and drove to Bangor, our home base for coring at Caribou Bog. A testate-amoeba record of water-table depth from the bog will be compared to a lake-level record from Giles Pond (cored by Connor and Bryan Shuman back in November). These two sites are the new paleoclimate proxies for our Howland Forest HIPS (Highly Integrated Proxy Site). We also plan to use these records to better understand how lakes and peatlands respond to and record climate variation.

bog CaribouMap

Caribou Bog is a huge (~2200 hectares) ombrotrophic bog that has been the subject of many past investigations. We targeted a part of the bog that had been worked on in the 1980s by Feng Sheng Hu and Ron Davis. Coring took two full days (check out the video below to really appreciate the dipterans and the team’s jumping abilities). On the first day, we surveyed the bog with probbog - MBe rods to select a coring site. Then we hauled all of the heavy coring gear from the car, down a logging trail into the forest, through the “moat”, and then across the lumpy bog. Every part of the walk from the van to the bog and back was challenging, each for different reasons. The trail was hot and infested with deerflies and mosquitoes, the forest had no trail and low clearance and forced us to wrestle with young trees, the moat provided ample opportunity for losing boots and called for some gymnastic moves while carrying large and heavy stuff, and finally walking the 300 meters across the bog was like being on a demented stairmaster as we sunk a foot or two into the bog with every step.

bog flower - MB
After three trips to haul all of our gear, we cored the bog, collecting the upper peat (~3-4 meters) with a modified piston corer and the overlaps and deeper sections with a Russian corer. Although we thought we had ample drinking water the first day, we didn’t, and we chose not to drink the brown bog-water. Once we returned to the van, we headed straight to the nearest rural convenience store (only 3 miles away) and restored electrolytes and fluids.

We completed the coring on the second day, and dragged everything back to the van in three trips.  After dropping Bob off to meet his family in Portland, the rest of us enjoyed a seafood extravaganza at Fore Street restaurant in downtown Portland.  

portland head light

Portland Head Light

Lobster Feast

Lobster Feast

The cores went to Lehigh with Bob, but will eventually be analyzed by Connor. We will count testate amoebae and pollen in the core to get records of paleohydrology and paleovegetation spanning the past 2000 years.  Stay tuned!

Watch on YouTube: Caribou Bog 2014


Hu, F. S., & Davis, R. B. (1995). Postglacial development of a Maine bog and paleoenvironmental implications. Canadian Journal of Botany, 73(4), 638–649.