UMF professor’s new book: ‘The Maine woods are always changing’
FARMINGTON – The audience at the Emery Arts Center enjoyed a presentation of the recently published, “The Changing Nature of the Maine Woods” this week, presented by its author Andrew Barton, a professor of biology at the University of Maine at Farmington.
Barton’s detailed, 304-page text offers a dynamic look at the ever-changing landscape of the state’s expansive forests, following its unique evolution over thousands of years. Opening with a quote from Henry David Thoreau’s “Maine Woods,” Barton’s passages demonstrated a mix of scientific insight and descriptive prose.
“It just seemed strange that nobody had written a book synthesizing what we knew about Maine woods,” Barton said of what brought him to write the book. He added he hopes to encourage his readers to think more deeply about the forests that surround us them rather than “a homogenized backdrop for the rest of Maine.”
In doing so, the book on Maine's forests explores topics ranging from ancient tree migrations to the topographical uniqueness of the state’s eco-regions.
“Maine sits between two different biomes,” Barton said. “It is an ecologically transitive state - there’s nowhere else quite like it.”
Touching on diverse, in-depth scientific pursuits, Barton’s book aims to be a true resource for naturalist and nature lover alike. In addition to his scientific studies, Barton explored the expansive history of Maine’s woods, using chronological pollen dating data to documentation taken from colonial voyages in the 1600s. Capturing the dynamic nature of Maine was one of Barton’s initial goals when starting the project.
“The Maine woods are always changing,” he said. “The reality is that there will be a lot of surprises.”
Barton thanked co-authors Alan White, an ecology professor at the University of Maine, and historical ecologist Charles Coghill during his presentation. He also thanked his wife, Sarah Sloane, an associate biology professor at UMF, who he said was nothing but supportive from the get-go.
The presentation concluded with a reading of Barton's closing paragraph, exploring the hypothetical future of Maine’s woods at the hands of non-native insect migration, land use and climate change.
After answering questions, Barton invited the audience over to a local restaurant for further discussion. Good-naturedly, he also offered to throw in a free squash for anyone interested in purchasing his book that night.
The event was sponsored by the UMF Division of Natural Sciences and Devaney, Doak & Garrett Booksellers.