Welcome to the home page of the Maine Natural History Project.
In 1880, Charles Eliot, son of Harvard president Charles W. Eliot, organized the Champlain Society, a group of Harvard undergraduates, to explore Mount Desert Island (MDI) and study various topics of natural history: botany, ornithology, geology, etc. One result of their investigations was the 1894 publication Flora of Mount Desert Island, Maine.
On 1 August 2007, with the original Champlain Society in mind, a group of seven naturalists gathered for a potluck supper and an evening of discussion about the natural history of Mount Desert Island. The members of that group agreed there was a need for more communication about MDI’s natural history. They knew that lots of facts were stored in the heads of some people and that there were many reports filed away in various facilities, and they believed that that information should be readily and easily accessible. Like members of the earlier Champlain Society, these naturalists were also interested in hiking and studying the natural history of the island. They would have adopted the name Champlain Society had it not been recently chosen by College of the Atlantic as an honorary list of those who donated more than $1500 to the college’s Annual Fund. So, an alternative name, the Champlain Project, was selected.
The seven naturalists recognized that there were already groups that held regular meetings, offered public programs, and planned field trips, and, therefore, they decided that there was no good reason to create a formal organization. Instead, they thought that a web site could reach the widest audience, although other methods of sharing information were not ruled out. In particular, because many naturalists like to share experiences with others, the web site would include announcements of hikes, canoe/kayak outings, etc., that Champlainers (the name for anyone interested in the natural history of Mount Desert Island) were individually planning, in order that a limited number of people could join in the fun.
Purpose of this project. The purpose of the Maine Natural History Project is two-fold: (1) to assemble information about Maine’s natural history and (2) to present it in an accessible manner, primarily via a web site.
How to contribute to this website. All information (animal or plant observations, questions, photographs, notices of events, etc.) for the Maine Natural History Project web site should be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or sent by traditional mail to the address at the top of this page. Credit will be given to submitters, or, if desired, information can be posted anonymously. Suggestions for additional topics are encouraged. Material may be edited, primarily for brevity.
Checklists - Checklists are the basis for our understanding of what grows/lives in and around Maine.
Mysteries - A reader will occasionally send an image of something observed but not recognized. A special mystery page has been created for these images. Do any of the organisms on this page look familiar to you?
Organizations and other Resources - There is a wide variety of organizations and resources that focus wholly or in part on some aspect(s) of natural history of Mount Desert Island.