Honors College

Document Type

Honors Thesis


Ecology and Environmental Science


Sonja Birthisel

Committee Members

Stephanie Burnett, Farahad Dastoor, Mimi Killinger, Kate Ruskin

Graduation Year

May 2020

Publication Date

Spring 5-2020


The United Nations believes that the foremost challenge of the future will be climate change. Because of human use of fossil fuels, greenhouse gases have been released into the atmosphere at unsustainable rates, which have resulted in an altered climate that will impact weather patterns around the globe. There have already been measurable shifts in precipitation and temperature in many regions; in the state of Maine the general trend has been toward higher temperatures and increased precipitation. This is resulting in impacts to agriculture throughout the state. Blueberries and sugar maple are two culturally and economically valuable crops which will be impacted by further climate change. This thesis reviews existing research on climate impacts to blueberry and maple crops, with a goal of synthesizing information that may be helpful to farmers and policymakers . Sugar maple is projected to move northward by 2100 and be less dense in Maine under all climate change scenarios, with a less productive tapping season and reduced sap sugar content. New tapping technology may be able to minimize the damage to the maple industry. Ensuring healthy ranges of habitat and mindful logging practices may help minimize the loss of the species. Blueberry plants may be equally or more prolific in their production, but there will likely be a greater presence of pests as winter temperatures continue to increase and enable their successful overwintering. Agricultural practices may have to be adapted, with greater need for monitoring as well as use of pest management techniques such as selective burning, biological controls, and targeted chemical treatments of infected plants and disease vectors. Summer droughts may require blueberry farmers to pay for irrigation, while late spring frosts increase the risk of bloom destruction.