AERC Projects

AERC staff hang bat detection microphonesLittle Brown Bat Survey
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson
August 2016 to April 2018

 Little brown bats (myotis lucifugus) nationwide are suffering massive die-offs associated with a fungal disease known as White Nose Disease Syndrome. The State of Alaska has identified little brown bats as a species of special concern and federal protections under the Endangered Species Act could follow.  Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER) is known to support little brown bat populations which are currently unmonitored. AERC will implement a bat survey on JBER to determine the presence of bats, estimate their abundance, and identify their preferred habitats. Methods pioneered during this survey will give JBER land managers the tools they need to better monitor and, if necessary, protect bat populations on the installation. 

•    Conduct bat monitoring using acoustic bat detection equipment and share data with the Bat Acoustic Monitoring Portal (BatAMP)
•    Improve upon existing monitoring practices by identifying behavioral patterns and vocalizations which are unique to bats in the area.
•    AERC staff will conduct field work, produce written reports, and make recommendations based on the results of the survey.

Link to Bat Survey Documentation 

AERC Video on the Little Brown Bat


AERC staff deploy barrior netting in the Eagle RiverSalmon Abundance and Diversity in Eagle River
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson
August 2016 to February 2018

The mouth of the Eagle River on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER) is a critical late summer feeding area for Cook Inlet’s endangered population of beluga whales. Little is known, however, about the run size and timing of the salmon that the whales prey on in this river. Historic sampling methods for studying Pacific salmon in the Eagle River have been deemed inadequate and new methods are needed. AERC staff are working to investigate, coordinate, and implement new techniques for measuring and monitoring salmon diversity and abundance in the river. The techniques and data established during this study will allow state and federal wildlife managers to better understand salmon populations in the Eagle River and their importance to Cook Inlet’s belugas.

•    Devise new methods of sampling and quantifying Pacific Salmon populations in Eagle River.
•    Provide senior technical support to JBER fisheries program throughout the salmon sampling season.
•    AERC engaged with industry partner will provide fisheries science expertise to establish and oversee sampling program.

 Link to Salmon Abundace and Diversity Documentation

AERC staff interview Hawaii Air National Guard membersOral Histories of the Ka’ala and Koke’e Long Range Radar Stations
Hawaii National Guard, Oahu and Kauai
September 2016 to September 2018

AERC employees and support personnel who have visited the Ka’ala and Koke’e radar stations over the years have observed a unique military culture of primarily native Hawaiian National Guard members, many of whom have worked at the sites for decades. In the interest of preserving their historic and cultural knowledge, AERC will conduct oral history interviews with the Hawaii National Guard members who operate and maintain the radar sites. These interviews will help inform operational, conservation, and environmental management of these and other military sites in Hawaii.

•    Conduct video interviews with selected Hawaii National Guard Members at Hawaii’s Long Range Radar Stations
•    Provide video and audio for archiving as well as a written report summarizing individual interviews.
•    AERC will employ a documentary filmmaker and a former military journalist to conduct the interviews with logistical and administrative  support from an accompanying AERC staff member

 Link to Oral Histories Documentary

AERC partners monitor an active raven nestSurvey of Large Birds of Prey and Corvids with Emphasis on Eagles
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson
February 2017 to August 2018                               

Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson supports breeding populations of a number of large raptors, including Bald and Golden Eagles, Northern Goshawks, Osprey, and Red-tailed Hawks, as well as large corvids such as Ravens. Aerial surveys, ground truthing, and data collection on large bird nests on the installation is needed to monitor nesting success and productivity, as well as to assist with Alaska Landbird Monitoring and other avian conservation surveys. AERC researchers will conduct aerial surveys and subsequent ground-based nest surveys early in the breeding season to document and map active and inactive raptor and corvid nests.

  • Perform aerial surveys of raptor and corvid nests on JBER
  • Perform subsequent ground truth surveys to confirm activity in nests found during aerial surveys.
  • Provide data and assist federal biologists in preparation of installation map documenting the location of bird of prey nests.

 Link to Large Birds of Prey Documentation

Picture of a Coho salmon smoltJuvenile Salmon Dietary Investigation
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson
August 2016 to February 2018

AERC will provide project management for the Alaska Center for Conservation Science (ACCS) as they conduct a study of juvenile salmon diets in various Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER) streams. The project will draw on experience gained from a similar study being conducted by ACCS on juvenile chinook salmon diets in the Yukon River. By collecting and identifying the stomach contents of young salmon during the freshwater stages of their lifecycle, the team will provide data that can be used to better understand and manage JBER salmon habitat.

  • Document the type and quantity of foods used by juvenile Pacific Salmon in three JBER streams.
  • Provide reports to JBER wildlife managers which include recommendations for improvements
  • AERC in partnership with ACCS will provide specialists with extensive experience studying the diets of juvenile Pacific salmon in Alaska.


Picture of Berm features on Shemya

Documentation of WWII Structures at Shemya Island
Eareckson Air Station
September 2016 to September 2018

Shemya Island was the site of significant development during World War II. While concrete structures on Shemya such as pillboxes, batteries, and runways have been well-studied, the island’s earthen berm features, which once supported wood and metal structures such as quonset huts, have not yet been formally documented.  AERC researchers will use historic records, aerial photography, and GIS information to inspect and document these berms and assess their significance to Shemya’s military history.

  • Research historic locations and uses of former military structures on Shemya Island.
  • Compile and document location and extent of the island’s berms using aerial/satellite imagery and GIS software.
  • Provide inventory and condition assessment of earthen berms on Shemya.
  • Prepare and install a simple informative exhibit about the berms for Eareckson Air Station dining hall.


Picture of an Opiuma tree on Wake Island

Invasive Tree and Shrub Control at Wake Island National Historic Landmark
Wake Island
September 2016 to September 2018

The concrete structures of Wake Island National Historic Landmark are being obscured and damaged by introduced trees and shrubs, particularly Australian pine, also known as ironwood. AERC will provide personnel to remove this and other invasive tee species from the areas surrounding historic bunkers and buildings as well as to control their overall population on the island. Trees and shrubs will be cut and herbicide will be applied to remaining stumps to prevent regrowth. Every precaution will be taken to prevent the further spread of species being removed. Return visits will be made to ensure regrowth is not taking place.

  • Provide personnel, tools, and herbicide to control and, wherever possible, eradicate invasive trees and shrubs on Wake Island
  • Prepare reports documenting the removal of trees and methods used.
  • Make recommendations for future tree cutting and herbicide application.


Picture of Juvenile bald eagle on JBER

Avian Species of Special Concern and Eagle Nest Survey
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson
August 2016 to April 2018

Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER) encompasses large tracts of boreal wetland habitat which are home to a variety of bird species. Bird species-at-risk on JBER must be monitored both to ensure their long-term survival and to mitigate their impacts on military readiness. AERC staff are collecting data on Species Of Special Concern (SOSC) to assist in understanding both the effects of military activities on birds and the potential for bird activity to impact military training and readiness. The survey data and sampling methods developed during this project will allow JBER land managers to better understand habitat occupancy and seasonal variability of resident and migratory birds ranging from Rusty Blackbirds to Bald Eagles.

  • Survey known and presumed locations of Species of Special Concern (SOSC) habitat. Includes assessment of eagle nesting activity and productivity.
  • Develop and implement a sampling protocol to evaluate seasonal occupancy and nesting at Eagle River Flats impact range.
  • Conducted by faculty and graduate students from UAA’s Environment and Society Department.


AERC team documents archaeological features at Kahuku Training AreaIntensive Archaeological Survey and Testing in Kahuku Training Area
Oahu, Hawaii
September 2015 to December 2017

The Kahuku Training Area (KTA) is located on the windward side of the island of Oahu and is used by the U.S. Army for various forms of combat training. This part of Oahu was the site of many pre-contact Hawaiian settlements and the setting for some of the island’s earliest and best-known legends. From August 4 to September 1 of 2016, a team of AERC archaeologists from the University of Alaska conducted an intensive survey of selected portions of the training area, during which they documented 13 new archaeological sites and performed condition assessments at five previously recorded sites. Their findings included five traditional Hawaiian residential and agricultural sites, five postcolonial agricultural sites, one religious site, and six sites of undetermined affiliation. As a result of the survey, three new sites were recommended eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

  • Complete an intensive archaeological pedestrian survey by integrating subsurface testing to identify cultural remains or verify surface indications of features. 
  • Document new sites sufficiently so they could be evaluated for National Register eligibility.
  • Assess documented sites to determine if there has been a change in condition or identify undocumented features.


Picture of Annette Island Army Air Field boiler houseHistoric Building Survey of Annette Island Airfield Boiler House
Metlakatla, Alaska
August 2015 to March 2017

The former Annette Island Army Air Field, near Metlakatla, Alaska, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places for its contribution to the success of World War II allied operations. One of the few remaining World War II structures at the site is a boiler house, which is scheduled to be dismantled as part of the Native American Lands Environmental Mitigation Program (NALEMP). Because of its historical significance, a team of historians employed by AERC will thoroughly document the structure’s physical characteristics and history before demolition and remediation are performed at the site.   

  • Research and compile historical information about occupancy and uses of the boiler house.
  • Document architectural and mechanical features of the building and its equipment.
  • Photograph interior and exterior of the building prior to dismantling.


Picture of a bull moose feeds near JBER

Moose Browse and Winter Habitat Survey
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson
October 2017 to March 2019

Moose are an economically important species in Alaska and provide cultural, financial, and subsistence benefits to Alaskans living in the Anchorage Municipal and Mat-Su Valley regions.  To date, there has not been an assessment of the effectiveness of the moose browse habitat enhancement activities that have been established on Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson (JBER). AERC, in partnership with the University of Alaska Anchorage and the Institute for Economic and Social Research (ISER), will evaluate JBER’s moose browse management areas to determine their quality and successional state. The team will then make recommendations for the ongoing management of JBER’s moose habitat.  

  • Review management reports, enhancement plans, and GIS data on enhanced moose browse locations.
  • Survey habitat enhancement plots for current quality and availability of moose browse.
  • Modify and update moose management plans based on the information gathered from reviews and surveys.

Picture of a gravel pit on JBER

Gravel Pit Habitat Reclamation
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson
October 2017 to December 2019

A number of gravel pits on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER) are no longer in use by the U.S. military. As part of JBER’s land rehabilitation, maintenance, enhancement, and erosion control program, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers aims to restore these pits to functional wildlife habitat and mitigate their impact to nearby streams. AERC has partnered with the Alaska Native-owned engineering firm WHPacific, Inc. to document these sites and perform habitat restoration which will improve the quality of JBER’s fish and wildlife habitat.

  • Inventory and assess JBER gravel pits.
  • Develop best management practices and work plans for restoration actions.
  • Perform reclamation of gravel pits, including soil restoration and establishing of native plants.  ­

Picture of Riparian habitat near JBER

Wetland Monitoring
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson
October 2017 to March 2019

The Ship Creek watershed on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson is highly dynamic and has an extensive history of flooding. Significant damage has been incurred during major storm events in recent years. Changes to bank stability and stream course have the potential to affect adjoining wetlands and other buffers, and subsequently nearby development and infrastructure. In the interest of mitigating potential future flood hazards, AERC will conduct wetland functional assessment and monitoring of portions of the Ship Creek watershed within JBER’s installation boundaries.

  • Use GIS analysis to conduct wetland functionality assessment on the Ship Creek watershed.
  • Identify areas for hazard mitigation.
  • Prepare a vegetation mapping signature book series for riverine and floodplain wetlands on JBER


Picture of Coastal Erosion along Alaska's Northern coast

Coastal Erosion Study
Oliktok and Barter Island Long Range Radar Sites, North Slope of Alaska
October 2017 to December 2019

Previous studies have shown that the U.S. Air Force radar sites at Oliktok and Barter Island are especially vulnerable to increased coastal erosion taking place along the Arctic coast of Alaska. Accurate predictive modeling of future erosion at these sites is needed in order to assess potential impacts to their facilities. AERC has partnered with researchers from the University of Alaska Anchorage’s College of Engineering and BEM Systems, Inc. to develop comprehensive predictive models of shoreline positions over the next 50 years. These models will account for expected increases in coastal erosion due to climate change and help to inform the U.S. Air Force’s decision-making process.

  • Perform remote field work to document oceanographic conditions and collect sediment core samples from onshore and offshore areas adjacent to the sites.
  • Develop site-specific erosion models which incorporate Global Climate Model predictions and local data gathered during the research and field work phases.
  • Evaluate models generated by the project and determine their predictive skill through comparisons to existing models and a rigorous 3rd party Quality Assurance/Quality Control process.