Recent Submissions

  • Pairwise comparisons of shrub change across alpine climates show heterogeneous response to temperature in Dall's Sheep range

    Melham, Mark; Valentine, Dave; Panda, Santosh; Brinkman, Todd (2019-12)
    Encroachment of woody vegetation into alpine and high latitude systems complicates resource use for specialist wildlife species. We converted Landsat imagery to maps of percent shrub cover in alpine areas of Dall's sheep (Ovis dalli dalli) range. We then compared percent cover to interpolated climate data to infer drivers of shrub change between the 1980s and 2010s and determine if that change is occurring at different rates in climatically distinct alpine areas. We identified areas spatially interconnected by their mean July temperature intervals and compared their rates of shrub change, finding net rates of shrub growth were higher at temperatures notably above shrub growing season minimums. Along a climatic gradient, high precipitation areas had highest net shrub change, Arctic areas followed, while alpine areas of interior Alaska and the cold Arctic showed the least amount of net shrub change at these higher temperatures. Despite the requirement of higher temperatures for shrub growth, temperature and net shrub change displayed different relationships across the range wide climatic gradient. In areas of rapid climate warming, such as the Arctic and cold Arctic, the linear correlation between shrub change and temperature was highest. In the high precipitation areas where temperatures have been largely above growing season minimums during the study period, precipitation had the strongest linear correlation with shrub change. High latitude studies on shrub change focus primarily on expansion in the Arctic, where increased greening trends are linked to higher rates of warming. We provide the broadest climatic examination of shrub change and its drivers in Alaska and suggest shrub expansion 1) occurs more broadly than just in areas of notable climate warming and 2) is dependent on different environmental factors based on regional climate. The implications for Dall's sheep are complicated and further research is necessary to understand their adaptive capacity in response to this widespread vegetative shift.
  • Planning for positive outcomes: testing methods for measuring outdoor recreation preferences on public lands

    Wright, Roger Bryant; Fix, Peter J.; Little, Joseph M.; Dodge, Kathryn (2019-08)
    Outcomes-Focused Management is based on the idea of four levels of demand for recreation: demand for recreation activities, recreation settings, recreation experiences, and lasting benefits of recreation. Public lands can provide the setting, and thus the opportunity for people to engage in meaningful outdoor recreation activities to realize desired experiences and lasting benefits. Implementation of this management framework requires identifying desired outcomes and understanding how management of public lands recreation settings affects visitors' ability to realize them. This thesis addresses the two tasks. The Fairbanks Community Recreation Study investigated current methods of identifying demands for different types of recreation trips, revealing two key shortcomings. First, demand studies often rely solely on activity participation data and thus fail to account for latent demand and desires for meaningful experiences and benefits. Second, data from demand studies are either too general to be useful in site management, or too specific to one site to account for the range of needs within a community. An online survey was developed to characterize salient and latent demands for outdoor recreation in the context of the greater Fairbanks, Alaska community. A unique survey format allowed respondents to describe their hypothetical "ideal" outdoor recreation trips, the required setting characteristics, and what actual places in the region might realistically provide such a trip. Trip profiles yielded a typology of desired recreation for the region. By connecting these types of trips to real places, local land managers can identify which demands they are uniquely equipped to provide for and how to better cater to latent demands. To address the task of measuring the effectiveness of outcomes-focused management practices, an exploratory factor analysis was conducted on data from 13 recreation benefits surveys collected at recreation areas in three western states. Factor structures among individual studies converged on two primary domains of Personal Benefits of recreation and Community Benefits from recreation, each containing a number of potential subdimensions. By identifying latent factors of the recreation benefits construct the study brings research closer to developing and validating a survey instrument to measure lasting beneficial recreation outcomes to individuals and their communities.
  • Crop modeling to assess the impact of climate change on spring wheat growth in sub-Arctic Alaska

    Harvey, Stephen K.; Zhang, Mingchu; Karlsson, Meriam; Fochesatto, Gilberto (2019-05)
    In the sub-arctic region of Interior Alaska, warmer temperatures and a longer growing season caused by climate change could make spring wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) a more viable crop. In this study, a crop model was utilized to simulate the growth of spring wheat in future climate change scenarios RCP4.5 (medium-low emission) and RCP8.5 (high emission) of Fairbanks, Alaska. In order to fulfill such simulation, in 2018 high quality crop growth datasets were collected at the Fairbanks and Matanuska Valley Experiment Farms and along with historic variety trial data, the crop model was calibrated and validated for simulating days to maturity (emergence to physiological maturity) and yield of spring wheat in Fairbanks. In the Fairbanks 1989-2018 (baseline) climate, growing season (planting to physiological maturity) average temperature and total precipitation are 15.6° C and 122 mm, respectively. In RCP4.5 2020-2049 (2035s), 2050-2079 (2065s), and 2080-2099 (2090s) projected growing season average temperature and total precipitation are 16.7° C, 17.4° C, 17.8° C and 120 mm, 112 mm, 112 mm, respectively. In RCP8.5 2035s, 2065s, and 2090s projected growing season average temperature and total precipitation are 16.8° C, 18.5° C, 19.5° C and 120 mm, 113 mm, 117 mm, respectively. Using Ingal, an Alaskan spring wheat, the model simulated days to maturity and yield in baseline and projected climate scenarios of Fairbanks, Alaska. Baseline days to maturity were 69 and yield was 1991 kg ha-1. In RCP4.5 2035s, 2065s, and 2090s days to maturity decreased to 64, 62, 60 days, respectively, and yield decreased 2%, 6%, 8%, respectively. In RCP8.5 2035s, 2065s, and 2090s days to maturity decreased to 64, 58, 55 days, respectively, and yield decreased 1%, 3%, then increased 1%, respectively. Adaptation by cultivar modification to have a growing degree day requirement of 68 days to maturity in RCP4.5 2035s and RCP8.5 2035s resulted in increased yields of 4% and 5%, respectively. Climatic parameters of temperature and precipitation per growing season day are projected to become more favorable to the growth of spring wheat. However, precipitation deficit, an indicator of water stress was found to stay similar to the baseline climate. Without adaption, days to maturity and yield are projected to decrease. Selection and/or breeding of spring wheat varieties to maintain baseline days to maturity are a priority to materialize yield increases in the area of Fairbanks, Alaska.
  • Multiresolution digital soil mapping of permafrost soils using a random forest classifier: an investigation along the Dalton Highway corridor, Alaska

    Paul, Joshua D.; Ping, Chien-Lu; Prakash, Anupma; Rossello, Jordi Cristobal; Libohova, Zamir (2018-12)
    In order to complete soil inventories in the remote permafrost zones of Alaska, there is a need to develop efficient digital soil mapping tools that can be applied over large areas using a minimum of ground truth data. This investigation first used a random forest classifier to test combinations of environmental input data at multiple resolutions (10m, 30m, and 100m). Five tiers of soil taxonomic units were predicted: Order, Suborder, Great Group, "Series Concept", and Particle Size Class. Model outputs are compared quantitatively via estimated out-of-bag accuracy, and qualitatively via visual inspection by soil scientists. Estimated out-of-bag accuracy ranged from ~45% to ~75%, with results improving when fewer classes were modeled. Model runs at 10m and 30m resolution performed comparably, with 100m resolution performing ~5-10% worse in most cases. Increasing the number of trees used, including categorical environmental input data (e.g. landforms), and replacement of environmental covariates with principal component analysis (PCA) bands did not significantly improve model performance. The random forest classifier was then used in a digital soil mapping pilot study along the Dalton Highway in northern Alaska. Parameters suggested in the initial study were used to predict multiple soil taxonomic classes from a basic collection of environmental covariates generated using high resolution (10m) satellite images and sparsely sampled pedon data. Covariates included maximum curvature, multiresolution valley bottom flatness, normalized height, potential incoming solar radiation, slope, terrain ruggedness index, and modified soil and vegetation index. Five tiers of soil taxonomic units were predicted: Order, Suborder, Great Group, "Series Concept", and Particle Size Class. Model outputs are compared quantitatively via estimated out-of-bag accuracy. Estimated out-of-bag accuracy ranged from ~45% to ~75%, with results improving when fewer classes were modeled. We suggest future research into optimized sampling to ensure an adequate distribution of samples across the feature space, and the incorporation of expert knowledge into accuracy assessments. Overall, digital soil mapping with random forest classifiers appears to be a promising method for completing the soil survey of Alaska.
  • Are sustainable livelihoods critical to the success of community-based marine protected areas?

    Olivier, Nina A. (2018-05)
    Three community-based marine protected areas (CBMPAs) in the Visayas, Philippines were analyzed based on how well they incorporated sustainable livelihood programs into their overall management and planning for those displaced by the CBMPA. Through reviewing management plans and reports, the CBMPAs were then assessed to see whether including alternative livelihoods in these three cases was correlated with greater overall success. Each CBMPA was scored based on their alternative livelihoods and overall success. Management stakeholder perception surveys were also conducted for two of the CBMPA sites studied. Apo Island Marine Reserve scored the highest for its criteria for sustainable livelihood development and criteria for success of a CBMPA. Alternatively, Lawi Marine Reserve scored equivalent to that of Balcon Marine Protected Area for its criteria for sustainable livelihood development, yet the lowest for its criteria for success of a CBMPA. The most successful CBMPA was Apo Island Marine Reserve due to the incorporation of human dimensions into their management planning that helped them create sustainable livelihood programs that increased the community's compliance with the rules and regulations of the CBMPA. In contrast, Balcon Marine Protected Area and Lawi Marine Reserve did not have sustainable livelihood programs in place and their success was far below that of Apo Island. Thus, the overall success of these CBMPAs appears to be strongly correlated with alternative livelihood programs, however further study is needed to determine if this correlation between alternative livelihoods and success is true for the majority of CBMPAs in the Philippines.
  • Marine associated bird and mammal habitat use at the Five Finger Lighthouse Island

    Beraha, Lori (2018-07)
    In summer 2017 I studied the abundance and distribution of marine associated birds and mammals from four observational points on the southernmost of the Five Finger Islands (FFI). My objectives were (1) to identify the areas of highest habitat use by species of conservation concern, and (2) to use this information to make recommendations for an ecosystem-based management plan at the Five Finger Lighthouse Island (FFLI). I found higher relative abundance and higher biodiversity of both birds and marine mammals on the South and West facing sectors compared to the North and East facing sectors. I attribute this to the greater habitat complexity that comprises a near-shore reef, a mixed kelp forest, and a channel between the reef and the side of the island with the highest cliff, areas used extensively for foraging, nesting, traveling, socializing, and resting by many of the documented species. I therefore recommend avoiding development and minimizing anthropogenic disturbance on the southern and western portions of the island including the adjacent reef and channel between the reef and island. As both the FFI ecosystem and the Five Finger Lighthouse (FFL) management continue to evolve in response to changing environmental conditions and human needs, this study provides a useful baseline for future comparison. Continued study and monitoring is also recommended at this site to inform future adaptive management, document changes over time, and engage community stakeholders in science and conservation.
  • A study of soil topo-sequences in the Steese and White Mountains of Alaska

    Geisler, Eric S.; Ping, Chien-Lu; Juday, Glen; Swanson, David (2018-08)
    The Steese Mountains of Alaska present a complex landscape on which to study soil formation and characteristics in relation to topographic position. The White and Steese Mountains of Alaska are located approximately 70 to 220 km northeast of Fairbanks. Ten toposequences with 3 or 4 sites each were described in the field, sampled, and analyzed in the laboratory in order to determine the relationship between soil morphology and soil-forming factors. Permafrost is discontinuous within the study area and vegetation ranges from tundra on summits to boreal stands of resin birch, quaking aspen, black spruce and white spruce along the lower elevations. There have been many wildfires over time that may have altered the soils and affected the vegetation successional patterns. The processes through which various soil patterns have formed and the unique characteristics of the soils are described here based on field data obtained from both burned and unburned sites. The analysis includes biophysical settings, parent material, texture and nutrient concentrations. Organic horizons were common on most of the transects and play a key role in the depth of the active layer where they exist. Nutrient concentrations are also closely tied to the presence and depth of the organic horizons. Some patterns described in other areas of the boreal region were not observed in this study. There were some soil properties that are not readily described under the current taxonomy protocols which are suggested to be added in a future revision of Soil Taxonomy.
  • Comparing Marine Mammal Co-Management Regimes In Alaska: Three Aspects Of Institutional Performance

    Meek, Chanda L. (2009)
    Arctic marine mammals and the communities that depend on them for subsistence are facing unprecedented rates of environmental change. Comparative studies of policy implementation are necessary in order to identify key mechanisms of successful environmental governance under challenging conditions. This study compares two federal agencies responsible for the conservation of Arctic marine mammals. Drawing on multiple methods, I develop in-depth case studies of the policy implementation process for managing bowhead whale and polar bear subsistence hunting. I examine how and why agency approaches to conservation differ and assess policy effectiveness. The analysis focuses on three aspects of institutional performance as drivers of policy outcomes: historical events, organizational culture, and structural relationships with stakeholders. The study begins by tracing the development of marine mammal management in Alaska through time. I find that definitions of subsistence developed under previous eras continue to shape debates over wildlife management in Alaska, confounding ecologically relevant policy reform. I next examine the roles of agency culture, policy history, and relationships with stakeholders in influencing how agencies implement contemporary harvest assessment programs. Findings suggest that the internal orientation of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service makes it more likely to retain control over management programs than the more externally oriented National Marine Fisheries Service. Furthermore, these policy approaches affect the development of social norms at the local level. Through a social network analysis, I demonstrate that the extent to which policy programs are integrated into the existing social networks of a village affects policy success. Hunter participation in and support for policies is stronger when there are local centers of coordination and meaningful policy deliberation. Finally, I assess existing policies regarding both species to examine whether or not contemporary policy approaches address key drivers of system change and provide effective feedback channels. Findings demonstrate that both agencies have focused on regulating harvests; I argue that in order to foster resilience of the system into the future, policy actors must reconfigure management approaches and policies towards the protection of functional seascapes. I propose two strategies in order to govern for recovery (polar bears) and resistance (bowhead whales).
  • A history and analysis of the efforts of the Ahtna people of South-Central Alaska to secure a priority to hunt moose on their ancestral lands

    Schacht, Eric; Todd, Susan; Holen, Davin; Fix, Peter (2015-08)
    The purpose of this study is to document the decades-long struggle of the Ahtna people of south-central Alaska to secure the priority to hunt moose in their ancestral lands. The study details the changes in moose hunting regulations in Game Management Unit 13 from the first permit hunt in 1960 to the current era as well as the changes in the number of hunters, number of moose harvests, and success of hunters by area of residence (local vs. non-local). This study summarizes changes in regulations regarding rural preference for subsistence hunters and the court cases challenging those provisions. It outlines the strategies the Ahtna have used over the years to try to secure a priority to hunt moose. It also discusses the importance of moose hunting to the culture of the Ahtna people and the cultural impacts of changes in subsistence harvest regulations. The results demonstrate that under the current management and regulatory structure, Ahtna people and other local residents of the Copper Basin are not getting enough moose and they persistently feel the pressure from non-local hunters. The Ahtna counter this by continually engaging the natural resource management and regulatory process, maintaining subsistence lifestyles, and increasing their wildlife management capacity so that in the future they will have more moose on their land and a greater ability to control this important aspect of their culture. The study also provides recommendations regarding future subsistence moose hunting regulations in the region.
  • State of Alaska exposure for the dismantle, removal, & restoration obligations of hydrocarbon leases in Cook Inlet: an assessment of how current mechanisms of non-bonded coverage increase this risk over time

    McIntyre, Haley (2015-05)
    This Master's of Natural Resource Management and Geography project assesses the potential liability the State of Alaska faces with the non-bonded coverage of Dismantle, Removal, and Restoration obligations associated with hydrocarbon leases on state managed lands in Cook Inlet. There are four components to this assessment. First, a Chain-of-Title spreadsheet documents the percentage of Working Interest Ownership held by all companies in study leases from the time of first production through February 2015. Second, a Degrees-of-Separation spreadsheet measures the layers of corporate separation from previous lessees to entities in existence today that could perform obligations. Third, a Special Purpose Entity spreadsheet indicates lease percentages held by companies with corporate histories of less than three years prior to assumption of a Cook Inlet lease. And four, a written opus that describes the relationships between these spreadsheets and how they demonstrate that under current mechanisms of non-bonded coverage the State of Alaska's exposure to Dismantle, Removal, and Restoration liability increases through time as the hydrocarbon reserves in the ground reach the end of productive life.
  • Developing communication tools for resource management in western Alaska: an evaluation of the Western Alaska Landscape Conservation Cooperative coastal projects database

    Warner, Nicole; Trainor, Sarah; Greenburg, Joshua; Fix, Peter (2017)
    Science communication is an essential component in decision-making for resource management in Alaska. This field aids in bridging knowledge gaps between scientists and diverse stakeholders. In 2014, the Western Alaska LCC developed a database cataloging the current coastal change projects in order to facilitate collaboration amongst researchers, managers, and the surrounding communities. In order to better inform similar outreach projects in other LCC regions, this MNRM project entailed an evaluation of this database between April and September 2016 and comprised a ten-question phone interview with the database participants and other involved personnel. Results from this evaluation can help refine the database to better suit its users' needs in the future, and it can also inform the creation of similar tools in other LCC regions. This project evaluated the use and usability of the Western Alaska LCC Coastal Change Database. First, I review coastal change and its impacts on Western Alaska. Next, I explore how institutions can respond to these changes and what resources they can use, including decision-support tools. I then provide examples of different decision-support tools (both in academic literature and in Alaskan projects) and discuss methodologies for evaluating their use. Interview results are then reported. The evaluation of the WALCC Coastal Change Database indicated that the tool was mostly used to enhance general understanding of the research occurring in the region. Respondents were less likely to use it for time-intensive tasks such as collaboration. Respondents also indicated that a place exists for tools like this database to flourish, but they need 1) persistent outreach, 2) a dynamic design, and 3) immediate benefits for users' time. In the future, regular updates and frequent outreach could improve the database's usability and help maintain its credibility.
  • Perceptions of success: a case study of planning for climate change in Shaktoolik, Alaska

    Tangen, Stefan G. (2017-12)
    Climate change planning is increasingly used in places like northwest Alaska where people are dealing with the effects of global climate change in dramatic and life altering ways. Planning for climate change often involves multiple actors from all levels of government working together with various goals, motivations, and perceptions of success. This research provides a perspective on what compelled the community of Shaktoolik to formally plan for climate change, documenting who they worked with throughout the process, the dynamics involved, and the outcomes created. I used a case study approach and qualitative methods in the form of participant observation, semi-structured interviews (n=26), and document analysis (n=18) to understand the ways in which community and non-community actors perceive successful climate adaptation planning in Shaktoolik, Alaska. I utilized seven dimensions of success from the literature to provide a framework during the data collection process and for data analysis. Due to a history of relocation in the region the community of Shaktoolik is familiar with adapting to the local environment, yet this is becoming more difficult as western infrastructure increases. In climate adaptation planning in Shaktoolik actors agreed on the roles different actors should play in planning for climate change at the community level. Additional findings include the importance of several key concepts such as social learning, social capital, leadership, and relationships among stakeholders. The climate adaptation planning model in Shaktoolik is moving in a positive direction and may be useful for other rural indigenous communities to replicate.
  • Baseline data of bird populations in the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve, Mexico: a citizen science approach

    Anderson, Teresa S.; Fix, Peter J.; Carsten-Conner, Laura D.; Dalle-Molle, Lois K. (2017-12)
    This project tested the viability of converting a local environmental education group, "Eco Chavos" into a team of citizen scientists. In rural biosphere reserves in Mexico, with few resources and large resident populations, community-based biological inventory and monitoring has the potential to increase the impact of Mexican biosphere reserves by generating scientific information and engaging local residents in hands-on environmental education. To test this, I formed a citizen science birding group and trained them in bird identification, survey techniques, data collection, and data management. The project began in January 2016 and in December 2016 I stopped mentoring the program and let it continue under its own leadership. Our team was composed of an Eco Chavos group and a resident ornithologist who conducted land and water-based surveys multiple times a month. As of August 2017, 160 bird species have been registered, including three species endemic to Mexico; the Crimson-collared Grosbeak (Rhodothraupis celaeno), Blue Mockingbird (Melanotis caerulescens), and Spotted Wren (Campylorhynchus gularis). The survey provided an inventory of bird diversity in the reservoir, and could serve as a starting point to measure occurrence and abundance over time. The data were published in the updated management plan of the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve as well as in a new bird book, Guía de Aves de la Presa Jalpan. A new community group, "Aves de la Presa Jalpan" was formed and contributed information via an online public database. The database may be used by the international network of bird monitors to analyze population trends in both local Mexican bird populations and in international bird migrations. In addition, participants showed increased bird identification skills, leadership, increased interest in birds, and engagement in project tasks and planning. Infrastructure was built to encourage birdwatching tourism in the Biosphere Reserve and the foundation was set to continue this research in the future.
  • Why did Alaska eliminate the Alaska Coastal Management Program?

    Wilson, Ryan M.; Todd, Susan; O'Donoghue, Brian P.; Speight, Jeremy S. (2018-05)
    In 1972, the federal government passed the Coastal Zone Management Act. The federal government recognized that there is a national interest in effective management of the nation's coasts. The act created a program that made it possible for states to collaborate with the federal government to manage the nation's coastal areas and resources. In July of 2011, after thirty-two years of active participation in the program, Alaska became the only eligible state or territory to choose to no longer take part in the program. This action significantly affected Alaska's ability to manage the state's coastline and resources. This research is a qualitative case study that documents the events leading up to the establishment of the Alaska Coastal Management Program, its implementation, its elimination, and the initiative regarding its possible reinstatement. The research evaluates the current form of Alaska's coastal management practices to determine if it meets Elinor Ostrom's design principles for effective common property resource management, as well as theories on decentralization/devolution, polycentric governance, and adaptability and resilience. The research concludes that Alaska's choice to eliminate the Alaska Coastal Management Program was influenced by the interests of natural resource extraction agencies and a consequence of divisive party politics. The research finds that the effect of eliminating the Alaska Coastal Management Program was that the State of Alaska took a significant step away from what science recommends as prudent ways to manage common property resources.
  • Social dimensions of invasive plant management: an Alaska case study

    Callear, Tara L.; Fix, Pete; Brinkman, Todd; Graziano, Gino (2018-05)
    Uncertainty pervades attempts to identify an efficient management response to the threat of invasive plants. Sources of uncertainty include the paucity of data, measurement errors, variable invasiveness, and unpredictable impacts of the control methods. Rather than relying on this uncertain evidence from the natural sciences, land managers are taking a more participatory approach to invasive plant management to help alleviate risk and share the responsibility of implementation of proactive control and eradication strategies. This research is intended to contribute to this process of social learning by revealing the beliefs that determine stakeholder management preferences in a case study involving an infestation of Vicia cracca (bird vetch) affecting public lands, north of the Arctic Circle, along the Dalton Highway in Alaska. Possible encroachment of this "highly invasive" species upon vulnerable areas of high conservation significance in this rapidly changing, boreal-arctic system has motivated some stakeholders to advocate an aggressive, early response aimed at eradication using herbicides. This case study applies social-psychological theory in the study of the interactions between human behavior and human outcomes. Interior Alaska stakeholders were engaged in a survey to measure support for a scenario involving the use of herbicides to control the highly-invasive species, Vicia cracca (bird vetch), which has spread north along a road corridor north of the Arctic Circle. Respondents were asked a series of questions about the "likelihood" and "acceptability" of the possible outcomes. The survey results aligned with the expectation that attitudes predict management preference, however the beliefs that influence these attitudes were more complicated than expected. The results address the feedbacks anticipated between the human outcomes and human behavior in the social template within the broader system context that are critical to management success. The purpose is to utilize the results of this specific case study to facilitate the development of ongoing research questions that are generalizable to other affected boreal-arctic ecosystems, regionally and globally.
  • Public use of local foods in the Tanana Valley: understandings of producers and low-income community members

    Garcia, Rachel Aleksandra (2012-08)
    This thesis explores factors that affect local food use in the Tanana Valley region of Alaska. Alaskan public discourses increasingly link local food production to a more sustainable and secure state and community food supply. However, current local food system development in the United States is marked by signs of socially unequal distribution of the benefits of local food. In Spring 2011, semi - structured interviews and focus groups were conducted with agricultural producers and community members affiliated with the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), and the Farmers' Market Nutrition Program (FMNP). Results show that local food use is complex and tied to livelihood and daily concerns of both producers and consumers. Producers highlighted challenges in food production, and characterized public use of local foods as limited by insufficient production. WIC employees and FMNP recipients viewed convenience and cost as important determinants of local food use. This exploratory study contributes to a more complex understanding of the local food system in the Tanana Valley through close examination of the perceptions and life experiences of human actors in this food system.
  • Exploring the relationship between forest resource users and their disappearing forest: what do rural Gambians think are the causes and solutions for deforestation?

    Harris, Samantha; Todd, Susan; Gasbarro, Tony; Seefeldt, Steven (2017-06)
    This is a case study of a small rural community in The Gambia where I was a Peace Corps volunteer for 27 months. The savannah woodland there is classified as a dry tropical forest and like many such areas in the Sahel, the population is growing rapidly. During my time there, I observed a great dependence on local forests but no apparent management. One man told me, "If all the trees perish, then we will all perish." Given this level of dependence, I was surprised to see little evidence that they were planting trees or taking other measures to protect the forest. I wanted to find out just how dependent people were on the forest and whether they saw deforestation as a problem. If they saw it as a problem, what did they feel were the causes of it and what did they think would solve it? Since I was living in the area, I was able to use participant observation as a method in my research. I also used semi-structured interviews of key informants and focus group interviews in five communities that were located close together. I found that the people are extremely dependent on the local forest for firewood, lumber for houses and fences, foods like baobab and mangoes, and herbs for medicines (they had limited access to commercial medicines). This dependence places them in a precarious situation as rural poverty and food insecurity forces farmers to expand their agricultural fields at the expense of the forests. Everyone saw deforestation as a problem and noted that they have to walk farther to gather firewood and that the forest was once thick with trees and wild animals, but now "many trees have perished" and there are few animals. They saw population growth as the primary cause of deforestation, because that forces them to clear trees to make room to grow more crops. They also mentioned illegal logging, drought and bushfires as problems for the forest. They viewed tree planting as the primary solution and would like to plant trees near their homes where they could protect them, but there are a host of challenges to growing seedlings in this region. The biggest problems are watering the seedlings, as that requires carrying many gallons of water to each seedling on a daily basis, and protecting young trees from termites as well as goats and other animals. They would like to have more support from the Gambian government to teach them better ways to plant and grow trees, to learn more about manure and other ways to improve soil fertility, to help them pay for good fences, and to combat bushfires. There are many studies regarding tree planting, but few of them address the cultural perspective of forest use and management in the way this study does. These people face a life-threatening dilemma in trying to solve the problem of deforestation. They have had little success planting trees and will face serious shortages of essential items like firewood, lumber, medicines and food if the problem continues. They do not have the income to buy these goods. I hope this study will contribute to understanding the complexity of the situation, which in turn should assist NGOs and others to develop workable solutions to the problem of deforestation in this and other dry tropical forests of the Sahel.
  • The effects of freezing and storage time on the quality of reindeer meat

    Aguiar, George A.; Finstad, Gregory L.; Bechtel, Peter J.; Wiklund, Eva (2017-08)
    Restaurants, wholesalers and retailers of fresh meat require a year round consistent supply of uniform quality product to sustain demand and justify niche market costs such as advertisement and stocking product. Frozen reindeer meat could be stored, short or long term to increase availability provided there are no adverse effects of freezing. No studies to date have evaluated the effects of freezing and storage time on reindeer meat quality. Nine reindeer steers (castrated bulls; age 2.5 years) were fed a balanced milled ration at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) Reindeer Research Program (RRP) facility at the Agricultural Forestry Experiment Station (AFES). In February, animals were transported to a USDA approved meat processing facility for slaughter where both striploins (M. longissimus dorsi) were removed from the carcasses. The striploin samples were allocated to four subsamples consisting of fresh (control), freshly frozen, 6 month frozen and 12 month frozen treatment groups to determine if freezing and frozen storage of reindeer meat for up to one year effects meat quality. All samples underwent shear force measurement, water holding capacity (WHC) determination, proximate analysis, sensory evaluation, TBARS (rancidity) and fatty acid methyl ester profile (FAMES) analysis. Meat was sampled after 6 months of frozen storage for amino acid and mineral analysis. Shear force values were not significantly different amongst treatment groups fresh to 12 month (P=0.992). Purge and cooking loss variation were significant between fresh and 12 months (P = 1e-05,1e-04). There was no significant difference from fresh to 12 month in moisture, ash and protein content while lipid content variation was significantly different (P = 0.99, 1.00, 1.00 and < 1e -6 respectively). Tenderness and juiciness attributes were not significantly different among treatment groups fresh and 12 month (P=0.91 and P=0.53); however, an off flavor attribute was significantly different (P=0.005) amongst treatment groups suggesting that off flavor diminishes with freezing. While not detected in sensory evaluation, mean TBARS (rancidity) values increased significantly (P = <.1e-04) between fresh and 12 months. Characterization of reindeer muscle indicated that the amino acid profile and selected mineral were consistent with that of a high quality nutritional meat product. Omega 3 fatty acid (W3), Omega 6 fatty acid (W6), Monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA), Polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA), the ratio between Omega 3 and Omega 6 (W3/W6) and the ratio between PUFA and MUFA (PS) were not significantly different while Saturated fatty acid (SAFA) was significantly different amongst treatments groups from fresh to 12 months. (P= 0.35, 1.00, 0.96, 0.12, 1.00, 0.14 and 0.03). Results of this study suggest reindeer meat can be frozen for up to a year without compromising quality. This could facilitate the marketing flexibility for the reindeer industry to be able to provide a consistent supply of product year round to niche restaurants and wholesalers while commanding a premium price.
  • Development and implementation of an elementary place-based science curriculum for the Yakutat School District

    Liben, Sarah; Todd, Susan; Conner, Laura; Ramos, Judith; Taras, Mike; Fabbri, Cindy (2017-05)
    The need for citizens with a fundamental knowledge of science who understand the interconnections between living things as well as the impact of science on society is more important than ever. To achieve this goal, studies show that major changes to the structure of science curriculum must be made in order to incorporate all aspects of: 1) inquiry-based instruction; 2) strategies that elicit students' prior knowledge; 3) building conceptual understandings; and 4) integrating an ongoing assessment process that provides feedback to students and informs instruction. These suggested changes are articulated in the recent Next Generation Science Standards. In order to construct an elementary science curriculum for the Yakutat School District, I utilized the Understanding by Design (UBD) framework to develop individual "investigations" that were formulated around the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). A place-based framework was constructed for each investigation using the GRASPS Performance Assessment model and Learning A-Z place-based instructional process. Existing lessons and activities that aligned with the NGSS and place-based framework were included in each investigation, and where there were gaps in addressing the standards, I utilized the BSCS (Biological Science Curriculum Studies) 5Es Learning Model to write a series of lessons for each investigation. Ultimately, I developed two curricula for the following grade levels: K-2 and 5-6. Curricula were divided into overarching units that contained between 1-5 investigations, or subunits, each of which were framed around 1-3 NGSS. This project's practical importance was to provide a curriculum for a school district that had no preexisting science curriculum. This curriculum is important to the field of science education, as it serves as a model that integrates western science and traditional knowledge in the context of the Next Generation Science Standards.
  • An approach to understanding community members' perceptions of climate change in three rural indigenous Mexican communities

    Kent, Tricia (2017-05)
    This case study describes an approach to understanding community members' perceptions of climate change in three rural indigenous communities in the Tehuacan-Cuicatlan Biosphere Reserve in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico. Seven participatory tools were applied to assess community members' experience of current climate change conditions, the challenges posed by changing conditions, and their communities' efforts to adapt. Tools, such as the Stratified Timeline, that provided community members time to work in groups and reflect on the questions they were asked allowed them to better express their knowledge of climate change than tools that isolated community members or used technical language such as the Pre and Post-Test. Although community members were generally aware of changes in their climate, they were unfamiliar with the concept of adaptation or of how certain activities could help them adapt. Through their responses to these seven tools, community members expressed their belief that the climate is in fact changing in their region of Oaxaca. The biggest concern in all three communities was the lack of seasonal rains, which was affecting their ability to farm and ensure food security. Some adaptations, provided through soil and water conservation projects, were being undertaken in the region through governmental entities such as the Tehuacan-Cuicatlan Biosphere Reserve, but there is great need and much interest in having more of these types of projects implemented, to help communities adapt to climate change.

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