BioDiversity Research Institute Gorham METhis July supporters of MOFGA helped reap a harvest of $500 for the organization by participating in our Check in for Charity program.

We enter August excited to support another worthy organization, this one on the cutting edge of scientific research – Biodiversity Research Institute (BRI) based in Gorham, Maine.

While based locally, BRI is routinely involved in 80-100 research programs across the globe, including over a dozen in Maine. Their breakthrough work studying migratory birds and bioaccumulation (the process whereby toxic substances move up the food chain) empowers citizens and decision makers. They lead two research centers – the Center for Mercury Studies and the International Center for Loon Conservation and Research.

Biodiversity Research Institute

Maine Loon photo from BioDiversity Research Institute

Photo of Maine Loon courtesy of Biodiversity Research Institute

A Portland Press Herald article from this past June nicely summed up the excellent work of BRI:

Mercury released by burning coal goes into the atmosphere, then settles on soil and the bottom of bodies of water where bacteria converts it to a toxic form called methylmercury. In that form, it accumulates and gets concentrated as it moves through the food chain.

Loons are ideal bio-indicators of the presence of mercury in the environment because they are large, live up to 30 years and are highly territorial. Testing for the presence of mercury in a blood sample from a loon will show how much toxic mercury is present where the loon lives.

… The institute is one of a few nonprofit independent scientific research organizations in the country with a focus on birds, similar to PRBO Conservation Science in Point Reyes, Calif., and Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences in Plymouth, Mass., said Rebecca Holberton, a University of Maine associate professor of biology.

“BRI’s work with mercury has added a huge resource,” said Holberton, who is one of the many scientists who collaborate with BRI on migratory bird research.

In addition to this critical bird-centric research, BioDiversity manages a number of outreach programs including wildlife webcams that have reached millions of viewers, presentations and events, eco-tours and a wealth of information on their website.

BRI data has been used to inform discussions on an array of issues including environmental mercury contamination, contaminants in birds, wind power development, loon preservation and management, and much more.

Check in Now!

Just enter your name and email (optional) below to earn $1 towards BRI’s scientific research and outreach programs.

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Have a nonprofit you think should benefit from our program? Simply use our nominate form and you’ll get them in the running.

Fine print: Each person can “Check in” once each month using the widget you can find on our blog, website, and Facebook page. In addition we count all new “Likes” to our Facebook page as Check-ins so be sure to share this effort with your friends!