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Rafa Tasnim: Safeguarding Maine wild blueberries from climate change


Rafa Tasnim. Courtesy of the University of Maine. ORONO — Like many crops across the world, wild blueberries face several threats posed by climate change, including rising temperatures. Rafa Tasnim from Dhaka, Bangladesh, is trying to pinpoint new ways growers can protect one of Maine’s most iconic crops by using resources from the state’s backyard.

Since joining the University of Maine in 2019, Tasnim, a Ph.D. candidate in ecology and environmental sciences, has led studies that revealed that wild blueberry fields in Down East Maine are warming faster than the state as a whole, and that fields experience warming differently , depending on their location, the season and the time of day, among other factors. Her work has garnered state and national media attention.

These studies, however, are only the beginning of what Tasnim hopes to accomplish while at UMaine. Another recent study that Tasnim co-authored found that wild blueberries are more sensitive to dry conditions over a long period of time, meaning proper soil moisture management is more essential than previously expected. Tasnim is evaluating materials that may improve water retention in the soil that would protect the plants during dry periods at blueberry fields, particularly those once considered waste […]

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