ScholarWorks@UA is University of Alaska's institutional repository created to share research and works by UA faculty, students, and staff

  • The effect of Siberian alder on the activities of three extracellular enzymes and their implications for soil decomposition in Arctic and boreal Alaska

    Heslop, Calvin; Ruess, Roger; Bret-Harte, Syndonia; Kielland, Knut (2020-08)
    As tall shrubs increase in extent and abundance in response to a changing climate, they have the potential to substantially alter ecosystem nutrient availability and carbon (C) balance. Siberian alder (Alnus viridis ssp. fruticosa), a nitrogen (N) fixing shrub, is among the species responding to climate warming in both the Arctic and boreal forests. Alder-fixed N has the potential to increase decomposition of labile C, by relieving N limitation on microbial activity. Simultaneously, it has the potential to decrease decomposition of recalcitrant C by downregulating microbial N mining. The net effect of N additions is influenced by the relative quality of the soil C and could determine whether alder N additions result in a net sink or source of C to the atmosphere. We measured the activities of three extracellular enzymes in bulk organic soils under and away from alder canopies, in stands differing in soil organic matter quality, in both arctic and boreal forest regions of Alaska, USA. In the Alaskan arctic, the proximity of alder increased the activities of both recalcitrant and labile C-degrading enzymes regardless of soil C quality, potentially resulting in increased C losses. In the boreal forest, enzyme activities did not differ with alder proximity nor stand soil C quality, possibly due to long legacies of alder N inputs relieving microbial N limitation in these stands. As arctic and boreal forest ecosystems experience shifts in the distribution and abundance of this N fixing shrub, alders' influence on soil decomposition could have significant consequences for high latitude soil C budgets.
  • Beyond trending: using risking connection as a framework for moving agency culture toward trauma-informed care

    Healey, Michael J.; Renes, Susan L.; Strange, Anthony; Baker, Courtney; Anahita, Sine (2020-08)
    The prevalence and pervasive impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), and more broadly, trauma, are well supported in the extant literature. Despite this evidence, there remains a significant dearth of formal training and educational programs that prepare staff who work with trauma survivors within complex behavioral health systems. Trauma-informed care (TIC) has moved beyond a trend in the mental health field and is gaining momentum as a leading philosophical paradigm that is being infused as an operational framework for agencies that work with survivors. Risking Connection (RC) is a curriculum-based training program that works with agencies interested in becoming trauma-informed. The current study examined the impact of RC on trainee outcomes for knowledge gain, attitude change, and vicarious trauma (VT) on 119 participants who all work for a therapeutic group home system being operated by a provincial government in Atlantic Canada. The findings in this study suggest that RC is effective in improving knowledge gain and attitude change in a favorable direction toward TIC. The study also supported previous findings associated with the improvement of VT.
  • Community composition and biogeography of beetles and spiders across an elevational gradient in Denali National Park, Alaska

    Haberski, Adam; Sikes, Derek S.; Hollingsworth, Teresa; Armbruster, W. Scott (2020-08)
    Anthropogenic climate change is rapidly altering alpine ecosystems in Alaska. Trees and woody shrubs are expanding upslope and displacing alpine tundra. As alpine tundra habitats shrink and fragment, arthropods and other animals face an increased risk of extirpation due to smaller population sizes and reduced geneflow. Arthropods--insects, spiders, and their relatives--are the most speciose component of the alpine fauna and perform key ecosystem services, such as pollination and nutrient cycling, and are food for vertebrates. Many species have responded by shifting their distribution to higher elevations, but species respond to change idiosyncratically, which could alter species interactions and disrupt communities. I compared beetle and spider communities along an elevational gradient in Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska, an area with a complex biogeographic history and a poorly known arthropod fauna, in order to 1) examine differences in diversity, abundance, and community composition among forest, shrub, and alpine tundra habitats; 2) link the observed differences to abiotic factors relevant to climate change; and 3) test if shared habitat preferences lead to community-level patterns in geographic distribution. After three consecutive summers of sampling, I found that alpine tundra supports an unexpectedly diverse arthropod community with a high proportion of unique species and that vegetation cover and mean air temperature are strongly correlated with community composition. I therefore expect species losses among alpine tundra communities as shrubification continues. Community-level distribution patterns were not observed, but trends in the data point to a reduction of Holarctic distributions among forest-dwelling arthropods and an increased proportion of Beringian endemics among tundra species. This was the first systematic survey of Denali's terrestrial arthropods and added over 450 new park records.
  • Impacts of climate change on juvenile broad whitefish Coregonus nasus in Arctic Alaska: bioenergetics model development and application

    Green, Duncan G.; Sutton, Trent M.; Norcross, Brenda L.; Cunningham, Curry J. (2020-08)
    Anthropogenic climate change is contributing to rising temperatures worldwide, yet the increase is particularly rapid in the Arctic. Despite their position on the front of global temperature warming, the responses of Arctic ecosystems and the individual species within them are poorly understood. Broad whitefish Coregonus nasus in the Alaska nearshore Beaufort Sea not only inhabit a rapidly changing ecosystem, but are also a key component of subsistence harvest in the region and a relatively understudied fish. I parameterized and corroborated a bioenergetics model through species-specific physiological investigation and laboratory rearing trials, and used the resulting model to simulate potential responses in growth and consumption under climate change scenarios projected with global climate models. Simulations at current estimated prey energy densities projected increases in future consumption rates of up to 4% required to maintain historically observed summer growth, while simulations in which prey energy density was reduced by 50% resulted in projected consumption increases of up to 107% necessary to maintain historic growth. Simulations in which prey energy density was increased by 50% indicated the ability for juvenile broad whitefish to reduce consumption rates by up to 32% and maintain current growth rates. These results suggest that, although the physiological effects of rising water temperatures have the potential to increase growth rates of juvenile broad whitefish, climate-induced shifts in prey availability or prey quality are likely to be regulating factors that determine the magnitude and direction of changes in growth rates.
  • Fate and effects of commercial crude oil bioremediation products in Arctic seawater

    Gofstein, Taylor R.; Leigh, Mary Beth; Simpson, William; Guerard, Jennifer; Collins, R. Eric (2020-08)
    With increased oil exploration, development, and transport in the Arctic in recent years, the potential for disastrous oil spills is imminent. Biodegradation, the consumption of contaminants by indigenous microorganisms capable of using them as an energy source, can be enhanced using bioremediation treatments and may be a viable spill remediation method when traditional physical recovery techniques are not. The EPA National Contingency Plan (NCP) product schedule lists oil spill response treatments that can be used in the event of a spill, many of which can stimulate intrinsic biodegradation. However, there is often little to no experimental data demonstrating the effectiveness of these products in aiding the remediation of a spill. Here we investigate the effects of the currently listed NCP products Corexit 9500 and Oil Spill Eater II (OSEII) on crude oil biodegradation in Arctic seawater and the associated shifts in the microbial community using mesocosm incubations. Despite conflicting reports in the literature, Corexit 9500 showed no inhibitory effects on the biodegradation of crude oil. When oil and Corexit were co-present, chemical and microbial data revealed a sequential degradation beginning with the non-ionic surfactant components of Corexit (Span 80, Tween 80, Tween 85), followed by the degradation of the labile alkane oil components, with the degradation of other Corexit components such as dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate (DOSS) and dipropylene glycol n-butyl ether (DGBE) less clear. 16S rRNA gene sequencing revealed that oil and Corexit stimulate different microbial communities but some taxa are stimulated by either (Oleispira, Pseudofulvibacter, Roseobacter), suggesting that these organisms may be capable of degrading both. Further analysis with metatranscriptomic sequencing showed increased gene expression in the presence of Corexit, even when co-present with oil, suggesting that Corexit may enhance the metabolic activity of oil degraders. Increased expression of β-oxidation pathway genes (fadE, fadA, fadB) in the presence of Corexit coincided with the chemical loss of Corexit components. Based on these findings and the abundance of ester groups in the chemical structures of Corexit 9500 surfactant components, we propose a biodegradation pathway that involves the transformation of ester groups into fatty acids either through biotic lipase enzymes or abiotic hydrolysis, before funneling into the β-oxidation fatty acid degradation pathway. Taxonomic origins for these transcripts showed a diverse number of genera expressing these genes, which along with its lability may serve to explain the number of taxa observed to respond to Corexit both here and in the literature. Characterization of the contents of OSEII revealed the presence of sugars, surfactants, nutrients, phytochemicals, amylase, protease, and the non-hydrocarbonoclastic non-viable microorganisms Lactobacillus and Saccharomyces. Incubation experiments targeting the efficacy of OSEII showed a slight enhancement of n-alkane loss at 30 days, suggesting that it may have utility in longer term use following a post-spill nutrient depletion. However, the nutrient contents of OSEII were up to 32-fold times higher for ammonia and 100,000-fold times higher for iron than in ambient Arctic seawater, which although are limiting nutrients in seawater, may also cause more harmful ecological effects following a spill by inducing phytoplankton blooms. Based on these findings, the non-ionic surfactants of Corexit 9500 appear to be easily degraded through the proposed β-oxidation fatty acid pathway. Future NCP dispersants should target these labile ester chemical moieties while also being effective at dispersion. It is imperative for NCP products to undergo more rigorous third-party experiments to demonstrate their suitability, effectiveness, toxicity, and unintended side effects that may occur in situ before an oil spill occurs. Doing so will allow decision-makers to have comprehensive information to aid in selection of appropriate oil spill response techniques.

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