2012 Alaska Chapter of The Wildlife Society Meeting

Environment and Natural Resources Institute (ENRI) researchers and students are giving seven presentations at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the Alaska Chapter of The Wildlife Society, held April 10-13 in Anchorage.   Their presentations are the result of research projects which focus on a wide range of Alaskan birds and mammals—from tufted puffins to polar bears—and will highlight the exciting, state-of-the-art food web ecology research currently in progress at UAA.

Dr. Doug Causey (ENRI faculty fellow and professor in the Department of Biological Sciences) and his graduate students and collaborators will relate findings from several studies of Alaskan birds:

  • Biogeochemical indicators of change in marine bird communities in Northwest Greenland and the Aleutians
  • Inorganic element and phthalate levels in tufted puffins from the Western Aleutians
  • Determination of breeding ground origins of midcontinent greater white-fronted geese from Interior and Northwest Alaska through analysis of feather stable isotope values

Dr. Don Spalinger (ENRI faculty fellow and professor in the Department of Biological Sciences) and his collaborators and graduate student will give a presentation on the nutritional ecology of moose in an urban landscape.

Dr. Jeff Welker (ENRI director and professor in the Department of Biological Sciences) and his collaborators and graduate students will present findings from studies of tundra swans, gray wolves, and polar bears:

  • Stable isotopes and satellite tracking as a means to better understand tundra swan migration ecology
  • Determining the food web ecology of a top predator by analyzing stable isotope profiles of polar bears from the southern Beaufort Sea
  • Using stable isotope analysis and GPS technology to determine the complexity of gray wolf diets in Southwest Alaska

39th Annual Pacific Seabird Group Meeting

ENRI researchers gave nine presentations at the 39th annual meeting of the Pacific Seabird Group (February 7-10, Turtle Bay, HI), and Dr. Douglas Causey (UAA Professor of Biological Sciences and ENRI Faculty Fellow) was convener of the contaminants paper session.

The international Pacific Seabird Group (PSG) was created in 1972 to link academic researchers and government agencies throughout the Pacific region. The PSG aims to promote seabird research, facilitate communication among researchers, identify and assess threats to seabird communities, and provide the best scientific data to government agencies.

Scientists and students affiliated with ENRI are conducting a number of seabird research projects which focus on a broad range of topics.   Their presentations at the PSG meeting included the following:

  • climate change as it affects seabird communities
  • effectiveness of stable isotope techniques in studying seabird ecology
  • breeding ecology of the Kittlitz’s murrelet (a little-known, endangered species)
  • contaminants in Aleutian seabirds
  • corticosterone levels of Kodiak Island seabirds as an indicator of climate change

ENRI Abstracts from the 39th Annual PSG Meeting

2012 Alaska Marine Science Symposium

The UAA Environment and Natural Resources Institute (ENRI) was privileged to sponsor the 2012 Alaska Marine Science Symposium (AMSS), in which 17 ENRI researchers participated.  The AMSS, held this year January 16-20 at Anchorage’s Hotel Captain Cook and Dena’ina Center, is an annual gathering of eminent scientists, students, and government agencies involved in marine research in Alaskan waters. ENRI scientists presented research findings on topics ranging from the impact of floating plastic debris on the marine environment to the relationship between deglaciation and the marine foodweb in the Gulf of Alaska.

ENRI research topics featured at the 2012 AMSS included the following:

• The relationship of marine plastic debris to Persistent Organic Pollutants in the marine ecosystem
• Comparative isotopic studies as a method of studying the foodweb ecology of Low-Arctic (Aleutian) and High-Arctic (Greenland) seabirds
• Combining local knowledge and western scientific techniques to study  freshwater seal populations in Lake Iliamna
• Distribution and ecology of zooplankton and juvenile pelagic fishes in the Copper River plume (Gulf of Alaska)
• Isotopic  characteristics of Beaufort Sea polar bear tissues and diet:  Food web ecology of a top predator
• Agent-based modeling of mammal-eating killer whales and their prey

ENRI's 2012 AMSS Presentations

AGU Fall 2011 Meeting

Fifteen UAA Environment and Natural Resources Institute (ENRI) faculty fellows, research scientists, and graduate student researchers provided twenty-two presentations at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting 2011 in San Francisco, California this past week.  The AGU Fall Meeting is the largest conference of Earth and space scientists from around the world.

ENRI researchers presented their research discoveries and discussed their scientific findings with more than 20,000 of the world’s leading scientists.  ENRI Postdoctoral Fellow Dr. Adam Csank showcased his research findings from northwest Greenland, which indicate that there is seasonal variation in the source and age of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and particulate organic carbon (POC).  ENRI Research Scientist Dr. Patrick Sullivan gave and participated in several oral presentations highlighting research findings from his work on treeline shifts in Arctic Alaska and factors affecting the Arctic carbon cycle.  ENRI Faculty Fellow and Professor of Biological Sciences Dr. Bjartmar Sveinbjörnsson presented research findings which help to explain why treelines are expanding north in latitude and upward in elevation.  ENRI Research Scientist Dr. Birgit Hagedorn presented research findings from studies of Greenland Ice Sheet and the ground ice in Beacon Valley, Antarctica.   ENRI participation in the AGU Fall Meeting 2011 demonstrated the strong research program which ENRI is building at UAA; this research program benefits UAA, Alaska’s scientific community, its resource managers, and the public.

ENRI's Fall 2011 AGU Presentations

UAA Graduate Studies and Research Summit

On April 8, 2011, the following ENRI graduate student researchers gave eleven oral presentations and seven poster presentations at the UAA Graduate Studies and Research Summit. The Summit was sponsored by the UAA Graduate Student Association, the UAA Environment and Natural Resources Institute (ENRI), and USUAA.

Oral Presentations

• Elizabeth Sharp, UAA MS student in Biological Sciences:
“CO2 exchanges in High Arctic ecosystems: Responses to multiple levels of warming and increases in summer precipitation, NW Greenland"

• Becky Sawyer, UAA MS student in Biological Sciences:
“A survey of blood parasites from southern Alaskan brown and black bears using microscopic and molecular techniques”

• James Willacker, UAF/UAA PhD student in Biological Sciences/Biology and Wildlife:
“Habitat-specific foraging drives mercury concentrations in benthic and limnetic morphotypes of stickleback in Benka Lake, Alaska”

• Cory Stantorf, UAA MS student in Biological Sciences:
“To reproduce or not: Nutrition-hormonal influence on reproductive decisions in seasonally synchronous breeders”

• Wade Schock, UAA MS student in Biological Sciences:
“An evaluation of the current methods of monitoring annual production of Midcontinent Greater White-fronted Geese (Anser albifrons) that breed in Interior and Northwest Alaska”

• Aliza Segal, UAA MS student in Biological Sciences:
“Partitioning ecosystem respiration in arctic tussock tundra to more accurately forecast changes in the carbon cycle”

• Lisa Ebbs, UAA MS student in Biological Sciences:
“Water sources of evergreen and deciduous species depend upon season, ecosystem type and snowpack depth in Arctic tundra near Toolik Lake, Alaska”

• Emily Lescak, UAF/UAA PhD student in Fisheries:
“Genomics underlying rapid phenotypic change in threespine stickleback populations from Prince William Sound and the Gulf of Alaska”

• Kim Jochum, UAF/UAA PhD student in Biological Sciences/Biology and Wildlife:
“Confronting bear management in the changing North – future foci for efficient sustainable adaptive management strategies”

• Kyle Shedd, UAA MS student in Biological Sciences:
“Recent phenotypic and molecular evolution of trophic polymorphism in a species pair of kokanee (Oncorhynchus nerka) in Southwest Alaska”

• Lauren Caruso, UAA MS student in Biological Sciences:
“Understanding moose foraging behavior in response to variations in patch architecture and spatial motifs”

Poster Presentations

• Andy Anderson-Smith, UAA MS student in Biological Sciences:
“Increasing NDVI values in northern Alaska: Studies that mix shrub density, spectral and CO2 exchange measurements”

• Lisa Ebbs, UAA MS student in Biological Sciences:
“Water sources of evergreen and deciduous species depend upon season, ecosystem type and snowpack depth in Arctic tundra near Toolik Lake, Alaska”

• Leah Kenney, UAA MS student in Biological Sciences:
“Total Hg concentration in freshwater fish at Adak Island, Aleutian Archipelago, Alaska”

• Laurel McFadden, UAA MS student in Biological Sciences:
“Distribution and ecology of zooplankton and juvenile salmon in the Copper River Plume”

• Laura Schneller, UAA MS student in Biological Sciences:
“Impacts of Melilotus alba on pollinator services, diversity and abundance in the boreal forest of Interior Alaska”

• Ashley Stanek, UAA MS student in Biological Sciences:
“Stable isotope (δ13C, δ15N) analysis and satellite telemetry depict the complexity of gray wolf (Canis lupus) diets in Southwest Alaska”

• Tim Stevenson, UAA MS student in Biological Sciences:
“The effects of hibernation on the gut microbial community of the Arctic ground squirrel”

For more information about the 2011 UAA Graduate Studies and Research Summit, go to: http://www.uaa.alaska.edu/gsa/graduate-studies-and-research-summit.cfm