• A market survey of ecotourists in the Valdivian temperate forest ecoregion of Chile

      Harris, Scott (2004-12)
      A survey of ecotourists in the Valdivian Temperate Forests ecoregion of southern Chile is used to determine if the experience and activity preferences of the market match what is being developed at local community-based ecotourism projects. It also compares the motivations of the same market with the motivations outlined in the definition of ecotourism. Survey design was based on a literature review, and observations and key-informant interviews collected in the study area. Ecotourists show strong preferences for the types of accommodations and experiences that exist or are being developed at ecotourism project sites: hostels, camping, low-intensity nature-based activities, pristine environments, and simple marketing schemes. However, market demand for guide services may not meet expectations. Survey respondents who support ecotourism goals fall into a tightly defined cluster, the majority of whom are Chilean. Proponents of ecotourism development in this area have expectations that generally conform to the guidelines presented in the case study literature, and ecotourism can complement the improving, but currently weak, political capacity for conserving native forest biodiversity in this region.
    • Aspen coppice with coarse woody debris: a silvicultural system for interior Alaska moose browse production

      Nichols, Todd F. (2005-05)
      Browse production and use by moose (Alces alces gigas) in interior Alaska was investigated in 4 and 2-year-old quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) coppice stands following clear-felling without removal of the mature aspen stems. Moose winter browse utilization, as related to distance from cover, coarse woody debris (CWD), and browse species composition, was quantified. Aspen terminal leaders were sampled to relate current annual growth (CAG) dry biomass (g) to leader diameter (mm). Stem density, current annual browse production, and browse use were estimated. Browse use was determined as 1) proportion of aspen stems browsed (stand scale), 2) proportion of browsed leaders per stem (stem scale), and 3) diameter-at-point-of-browsing (leader scale). Aspen sucker density ranged from 23,000-43,000 stems/ha. Terminal leader diameter was found to be a good estimator of individual stem CAG biomass. CWD did not impede moose utilization of stems. Browse use declined from mature stand edge to center (100 m). Beyond 15 m from mature stand edge browse use was low compared to that within 15 m of the stand edge. Clear-felling without removal of stems is a viable silvicultural method to reinitiate seral aspen in lieu of prescribed fire or mechanical treatments on south-facing hillsides.
    • Using remote sensing to examine changes of closed-basin surface water area in Interior Alaska from 1950-2002

      Riordan, Brian Alan (2005-05)
      Over the past fifty years Alaska has experienced an increase in mean annual temperature. This warming may be causing significant changes in hydrology and permafrost dynamics. In recent decades, Native Americans and land managers have reported losses of water bodies and surface water area in interior Alaska. We conducted a study to determine the degree to which these informal observations were representative of a regional trend in surface water area loss. This study examines closed-basin water bodies in nine regions across Alaska: 1) Copper River Basin, 2) Talkeetna, 3) Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge, 4) Denali National Park, 5) Innoko Flats National Wildlife Refuge, 6) Minto Flats State Game Refuge, 7) Stevens Village, 8) Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge, and 9) Prudhoe Bay/Arctic Coastal Plain. The study included approximately 850,000 hectares and over 40,000 water bodies. To conduct such a large-scale study, GIS and Remote Sensing techniques were applied. Water body change detection was conducted over a fifty-year time period. A minimum of three time periods were used for each area. Imagery included black and white aerial photography (1950 -1957), color infrared aerial photography (1978 -1982), Landsat TM (1986 - 1995), and Landsat ETM+ (1999 - 2002). Based on these images, water body polygons were digitized for each time period. Area was calculated for each polygon and compared to corresponding ponds from images at later times. Of the nine regions, six showed substantial reductions in surface water area: Copper River Basin, Minto Flats, Innoko Flats, Yukon Flats, Stevens Village, and Denali National Park. The Innoko Flats and Copper River Basin regions showed the most loss at 31% and 28% respectively. There are several mechanisms possible for reductions of surface water in a warming climate including increased formation of taliks, increased soil water holding capacity, increased evapotranspiration, and terrestrialization.
    • Assessing the generalizability of study results: an outdoor recreation application

      Taylor, Stephen C. (2005-12)
      Onsite surveys of visitors have become a common method of providing information regarding recreation area visitors' norms, attitudes, motivations, management preferences, etc. Study results are often implied to be representative of a future time period for management planning purposes. One enduring method is segmenting visitors based on motivations and examining preferences for management actions/settings by group. When such a study is directly intended to guide management actions, the 'groups' must offer some degree of insight into future visitors, i.e., generalize across time. Data gathered during 2004 at the Kennecott National Historic Landmark within Wrangell- St. Elias National Park and Preserve were used to establish a hypothesized relationship between motivations and preferences for management actions. The study was replicated in 2005 to assess the generalizability of the results. A K-means cluster analysis on visitor motivations revealed five unique groups of visitors (n=206). Each group was linked with preferences for six hypothetical management actions. Utilizing generalizability theory and cluster profiling, results suggest the same five visitor types were present at Kennecott in 2005 (n=198). Furthermore, five management options exhibited evidence of generalizability across time. Although the degree of preferences varied slightly over time, opinions towards the management options did not change.
    • Factors contributing to the participation of organizations in a voluntary environmental program: the case of Green Star, Anchorage, Alaska

      Doherty-Guzzetti, Jean M. (2007-05)
      Green certification programs are intended to encourage sustainability by assisting organizations with environmental efforts and publicly recognizing those efforts. This study examined the characteristics and goals of organizations participating in Anchorage, Alaska's green certification program, Green Star. Green Star has approximately 250 members, including privately owned businesses, schools, non-profits, and government agencies. To earn the Green Star Award, organizations were required to meet twelve of eighteen environmental standards. Using a mail-out questionnaire, this research explored whether member characteristics, such as number of employees or ownership structure, were related to the number of environmental standards a participating organization completed. Using four indicators, a goal profile determined if organizations seek environmental improvements, economic improvements, or image improvements. Interviews provided insight into the motivations for participation. Overall, members appeared to participate in Green Star to improve their environmental performance more than economic performance. The Anchorage Green Star program functioned as a guide for organizations to initiate changes in environmental behavior that otherwise would not occur. Conclusions from results are presented in six recommendations to improve the efficacy of green certification programs.
    • 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).
    • Human well-being in recreation: an investigation of the expectancy-valence theory

      Harrington, Andrew M. (2011-05)
      Over the past 50 years, numerous approaches exploring the recreation experience have offered a multitude of concepts and terminology, resulting in a debate over which best represent recreation behavior. This study adopts one of these approaches, the motivational approach, and explores its underpinning theory, expectancy-valence; addresses its limitations presented in the literature; and investigates the potential for the integration with other approaches. A modified analytic induction methodology was applied to address five hypotheses developed to address study questions. Longitudinal, qualitative data were collected through two separate interviews one week apart with 16 individuals that captured their thoughts regarding their recreation activities. A codebook was developed and a kappa statistic revealed an acceptable (K = 0.61 to 0.80) level of inter-coder reliability. Codes were developed based on constructs from the expectancy-valence framework prior to examining the transcripts. Evidence of these codes in the transcripts provided support for the theory. Consistent with modified analytic induction, some hypotheses were confirmed, while one was modified when evidence to the contrary was found. Further examination of the data revealed the potential for integration of other approaches.
    • Arctic sea ice: satellite observations, global climate model performance, and future scenarios

      Rogers, Tracy S.; Rupp, Scott (2011-08)
      This thesis examined Arctic sea ice trends through observational records and model-derived scenarios. A regional analysis of Arctic sea ice observations 1980-2008 identified regional trends similar to the pan-Arctic. However, winter maximum (March) extent in the Atlantic quadrant declined faster. Through an analysis of Atlantic Ocean temperatures and Arctic winds, we concluded that melting sea ice extent may result in increased Atlantic Ocean temperatures, which feeds back to further reductions in Atlantic quadrant extent. Further, Arctic winds do not appear to drive Atlantic ice extent. We evaluated performance of 13 Global Climate Models, reviewing retrospective (1980-2008) sea ice simulations and used three metrics to compare with the observational record. We examined and ranked models at the pan-Arctic domain and regional quadrants, synthesizing model performance across several Arctic studies. The top performing models were able to better capture pan-Arctic trends and regional variability. Using the best performing models, we analyzed future sea ice projections across key access routes in the Arctic and found likely reduced ice coverage through 2100, allowing increasingly longer marine operations. This unique assessment found the Northwest and Northeast Passages to hold potential for future marine access to the Arctic, including shipping and resource development opportunities.
    • 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.
    • Forest biometrics and quantitative analysis of forested ecoystems in coastal Alaska

      Peterson, Randy Louis; Verbyla, David; Liang, Jingjing; Barrett, Tara; Greenberg, Joshua (2014-08)
      Growth and yield models are a mainstay of forestry research and a necessary tool in the forest management decision process. Growth and yield models predict forest population dynamics over time and are an invaluable resource to forest managers making harvest and utilization decisions. At present, there are only a few growth models available for Alaska's coastal forests, all of which are either calibrated with even-aged data or outdated. Yield tables and growth models developed with even-aged data can be useful in even-aged management applications such as clear-cuts; however, these models are not able to predict the outcomes of uneven-aged silvicutural systems. The objective of this thesis is the development of a growth and yield model for coastal Alaska and computer applications to facilitate its use. A density-dependent, distance-independent, size- and species-specific matrix forest growth and yield model is calibrated with data collected on permanent sample plots located throughout coastal Alaska. The resulting growth and yield model enables short- and long-term predictions of stand basal area, volume, and biomass. Model assessment, with a focus on plausibility and accuracy, is evaluated on an independent dataset. Two computer programs (AlaskaPro and fgmod) are developed in conjunction with the new model. These programs can be used by forest researchers and land managers to compare the outcomes of various silvicultural prescriptions.
    • Nature-based tourism operator response to environmental change in Juneau, Alaska

      Timm, Kristin; Sparrow, Elena B.; Pettit, Erin C.; Taylor, Karen M.; Trainor, Sarah F. (2014-08)
      Increasing temperatures are projected to have a positive effect on the length of Alaska's summer tourism season, but the natural attractions that tourism relies on, such as glaciers, wildlife, fish, or other natural resources, may change. In order to continue to derive benefits from these resources, nature-based tour operators may have to adapt to these changes, and communication is an essential component of the adaptation process. The goal of this study is to determine how to provide useful climate change information to nature-based tour operators by answering the following questions: 1. What environmental changes do nature-based tour operators perceive? 2. How are nature-based tour operators responding to climate and environmental change? 3. What climate change information do nature-based tour operators need? To answer these questions, 24 nature-based tour operators representing 20 different small and medium sized businesses in Juneau, Alaska were interviewed. The results show that Juneau's nature-based tour operators are observing, responding to, and in some cases, actively preparing for changes in the environment. The types of environmental changes observed depended on the types of resources operators relied on and the way they accessed those resources, but a majority of the operators revealed that the loss of glaciers is a particularly large risk to their businesses and the tourism industry as a whole. Despite the observation of or perception of future risks, nearly a third of nature-based tour operators are not responding to changes in the environment. The remainder of nature-based tour operators were coping with environmental change, by changing their tour activities, expanding existing risk management activities, or participating more generally in conservation activities like recycling and fuel reduction. Only a few of the nature-based tour operators were planning for climate change, and taking strategic approaches to adaptation like including climate change in their business plans or creating a company task force. Using data about certainty in climate change information and the perceived risks to the organization, this study proposes a framework to classify climate change responses for the purpose of generating meaningful information and communication processes that promote adaptation or build adaptive capacity in the tourism sector. The results of this study demonstrate that science communication research has an important place in climate change adaptation and sustainability science.
    • Further clarification of interpersonal versus social values conflict: insights from motorized and non-motorized recreational river users

      Gibson, Michael J.; Fix, Peter J.; Greenberg, Joshua A.; Paragi, Thomas (2014-12)
      This study examined interpersonal and social values conflict among motorized and non-motorized recreational river users within the Chena River State Recreation Area in interior Alaska. This work was undertaken in order to evaluate differences in research methodologies and to provide state park managers with information concerning the type and level of conflict among recreational rivers users and potential management strategies. Previous methodologies for operationalizing social values conflict are not conceptually clear and may result in individuals being classified into the wrong conflict typology. This study addressed these conceptual problems by: 1) introducing a new conflict typology to differentiate between social values conflict and latent problem behaviors and 2) by uniformly applying a non-behavior based measure to classify social values conflict. Data were collected using an on-site survey provided to motorized (n = 26) and non-motorized (n = 63) recreational river users at multiple put-in/take-out locations. To the extent conflict existed, social values conflict was the most prevalent. A small but perceptible number of respondents in both user groups reported a latent-behavior conflict. Based on these data, results generated using the methods in this study were compared to the results generated using previous methodologies. Differences were found between the number of non-motorized respondents who were classified into the no conflict and social values conflict typologies. Based on the results, a combination of management strategies such as education and outreach and alternative infrastructure development should be used to reduce conflict among users.
    • 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.
    • Evapotranspiration in a subarctic agroecosystem: field measurements, modeling and sustainability perspectives

      Ruairuen, Watcharee; Sparrow, Elena Bautista; Fochesatto, Gilberto Javier; Zhang, Mingchu; Schnabel, William (2015-05)
      Northern latitudes are known to be the most vulnerable regions already witnessing the impacts of climate change. These impacts have not only affected a broad spectrum of ecological conditions but also physical and socio-economic functions and activities across the region. Uncertainties in climate change and its progression exposes agroecosystem development and sustainability to a great risk. Yet, not fully understood, climate feedbacks and influencing factors such as human population growth and consumption imposes economical and financial stress in the sustainability of agroecosystem activities. On the opposite direction, trends in this activity can drive regional modifications to climate to an extent that is still unknown and not yet forecasted. Over time, as the acreages of agricultural lands increase from conversion of natural lands such as boreal forests, unexpected changes in surface energetics and particularly overturning of evapotranspiration rates and changes in soil moisture regime may potentially accentuate regional climate change. These changes therefore are expected to introduce new challenges for Alaskan agriculturists because of increasing vulnerabilities and affecting conditions that shape resilience of agricultural systems and production. This research focused on improving understanding of surface energetics in an agroecosystem of Interior Alaska. A synthesis study was conducted combining the analysis of intensive field experiments including direct measurements of micrometeorological, hydrological, meteorological variables and computational modelling during the summer growing season. The evaluation of evapotranspiration (ET) dynamical regime and surface energy processes showed that ET represented a large portion of surface energy balance with similar aspects to surface fluxing levels in Arctic tundra, and in contrast, with more abundant flux levels than in subarctic boreal forest. Surface heterogeneities due to soil moisture and temperature regime drive differences in energy balance closure as a function of spatial scales despite the mostly flat surfaces and stationary atmospheric surface layer flows in the experimental area. A fully coupled numerical simulation was performed to model fluxes at the land-atmosphere interface and compared to independent observations of surface energy. A final assessment of experimental methodologies and numerical modeling is presented in preparation for integrative data fusion analysis and studies involving new satellite remote sensing capabilities, physical modeling and network field observations.
    • The 30-year outcome of assisted regeneration treatments in a burned and salvaged Interior Alaska boreal forest

      Allaby, Andrew; Juday, Glenn; Young, Brian; Yarie, John (2015-08)
      This study contributes to the understanding of the persistence of silvicultural treatments into the stem exclusion stage of forest development in an experiment originally designed to test the effectiveness of various white spruce (Picea glauca Moench [Voss]) regeneration practices. Many studies in the North American boreal forest address the effect of silvicultural treatments on a single tree species, specifically white spruce in the great majority of cases. The experiment measured in this study provided an excellent opportunity to compare treatment effects on white spruce density and growth. The Rosie Creek Fire Tree Regeneration Installation experiment represents an operational-scale, spatially-explicit, replicated design on a single site disturbed consecutively by high-severity wildfire and clearcut salvage harvest. Three hierarchical factors, each with multiple levels, were examined: landform type, ground scarification methods, and white spruce regeneration methods. All three of the experimental factors exercised continuing influence on the patterns of white spruce regeneration and growth. The treatment effects did not attenuate over time for white spruce, and we found statistically significant effects that the original researchers could only describe as tendencies. However, relatively few studies address treatment impacts on non-target species or determine how the silvicultural treatments affect a site's overall woody biomass production. Experimental silvicultural practices targeted in this study to improve white spruce survival had profound effects on other dominant upland tree species such as quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.) and Alaska birch (Betula neoalaskana Sarg.). Interior Alaska timber species demonstrate different regeneration strategies to post-disturbance environmental conditions, especially residual organic soil layer thickness and spatial configuration of surviving potential seed sources. Effective silvicultural practices must consider each species' unique reproductive biology, and clonal sprouting as a source of aspen persistence was a particularly important example in our study. Site differences, such as we found between the slope and ridge landforms, are a key consideration for implementing effective silvicultural practices. Significant interactions between the regeneration treatments and landform types proved to be critical to meet specific reforestation objectives, particularly the different herbaceous vegetation cover types, presence/absence of aspen clonal rootstocks, and spatial configurations regarding seed sources. Managing mixed species stands, which are common in the lightly managed portions of the boreal forest, requires not only the consideration of the future crop tree, but the interacting effects of silvicultural practices on all tree species.
    • What variables foster the adoption and implementation of sustainable practices by local governments?

      Duffy, John; Todd, Susan; Valentine, David; Meek, Chanda; Joly, Julie (2015-08)
      The importance of local governments in developing sustainable communities and meeting the challenges of climate change was recognized at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. The principle ways that local governments may influence the pursuit of sustainability and the creation of resilient and adaptive communities is their planning responsibilities, building codes, infrastructure investments and economic development efforts. Yet most local governments are not pursuing sustainability nor embarking on efforts to build more resilient communities. This exploratory study evaluated variables that appeared useful for explaining the pursuit of sustainability and resiliency by local governments. Casting more light on the variables that foster sustainability at the local government level may help more local governments pursue such efforts. The research question that guided the research is: What variables foster the adoption and implementation of sustainable practices by local governments? Answering this question provides a foundation for additional research on the results found here and thereby foster sustainability at the local government level. A multi-case study approach was used as the selected research method. The cases included fourteen small local governments located in Alaska and Oregon, some practicing sustainability and others not. Data were collected through surveys, interviews, government reports and databases as well as archival document analyses. This exploratory research identified the variable categories of institutional setting, political party affiliation and community well-being as having strong to moderate association with local government pursuit of sustainability. In other words, of the variables studied, these three categories are the most likely to foster sustainability. If these results are confirmed by further studies, then doing what we can to increase these four characteristics would also foster sustainability. The study also suggests that small local governments behave differently than large local governments (populations exceeding 250,000). While additional research is necessary to confirm this studys exploratory findings, it appears that in order for local government pursuit of sustainability to occur, a favorable milieu as described by the variable categories noted above must exist.
    • Caribou migration, subsistence hunting, and user group conflicts in northwest Alaska: a traditional knowledge perspective

      Halas, Gabriela; Kofinas, Gary; Fix, Peter; Joly, Kyle (2015-08)
      Alaska Natives of northwest Alaska are highly dependent on barren-ground caribou (Rangifer tarandus) for meeting their nutritional and cultural needs. The Alaska Native village of Noatak borders the Noatak National Preserve (NNP), an area historically and presently used by Iñupiaq for subsistence caribou hunting and other traditional activities. Interactions between local and non-local caribou hunters were analyzed through the lens of common pool resource theory, which I linked to traditional Iñupiaq management of access and use of resources. This study examined changes in caribou migration and its effect on local caribou hunting success, which have been perceived to be the result of the interaction with non-local hunters and commercial aircraft operators transporting non-locals. Past research, decades old at this point, was undertaken prior to some regulations in place today, such as zoned use areas. To understand the implications of these changes, I documented the perceptions of local hunters by drawing on their traditional ecological knowledge (TEK), using a mixed methods approach to capture information on caribou ecology and human-caribou interactions. Mixed methods included a survey of active hunters, semi-structured participatory mapping interviews with local caribou experts of Noatak, key informant interviews, and participatory observation. Local hunters reported that caribou migration has changed, and there has been a decrease in the population of the region's caribou herd, the Western Arctic Herd (WAH). Hunters also reported that caribou hunting has changed substantially in the last five years, with fewer caribou harvested and hunters adapting to accommodate caribou migration shifts. Local hunters ranked aircraft and non-locals hunters as having the greatest negative impact to caribou migration and local hunting, followed by predation, climate change and habitat change. Noatak hunters perceived that their harvest of caribou is most impacted by non-local activity in the Noatak region. As well, local hunters reported that aircraft are a greater disturbance than on-the-ground non-local hunters. Participatory mapping revealed that use-areas are shared by local and non-local users along the Noatak River corridor, including both inside and outside zoned use areas. Suggestions by respondents for improved caribou management and conflicts with non-locals ranged from reducing non-local activity, working together with non-locals and aircraft operators, improving economic development for Noatak, and teaching youth of the village traditional hunting practices. Findings of this research demonstrate that local hunters have a rich, localized knowledge of human-caribou systems, which can contribute further to understanding of caribou-human interactions and in turn help to inform wildlife management decision-making.
    • Geomorphic and climatic influences on white spruce growth near the forest-tundra ecotone in Southwestern Alaska

      Sousa, Emily E.; Heiser, Patricia; Mann, Daniel; Juday, Glenn P. (2015-08)
      Three types of treelines occur in Alaska: a latitudinal treeline running east-west along the Brooks Range, alpine treelines in mountainous regions, and a longitudinal treeline running northsouth along the Bering Sea coast. Latitudinal and alpine treelines in Alaska have been extensively studied; however, little is known about longitudinal treeline in western Alaska. Here I describe the associations between a longitudinal treeline in southwestern Alaska and geomorphology, soils, and climate. This diffuse, lowland treeline is dominated by white spruce (Picea glauca (Moench) Voss) and is presently expanding rapidly westward. Tree age and stand structure vary markedly according to geomorphic position and soil characteristics but generally fall into four vegetation-landscape associations. I cored spruce growing in these four associations to determine limiting germination dates and compare tree growth with climate records. Results show that timing and rate of establishment has varied between vegetation-landscape associations; however, once established, white spruce growth responds positively to warmer summer temperatures with minor variations between sites. Unlike drought-stressed white spruce in Interior Alaska, under likely near-term temperatures, spruce in southwestern Alaska will probably continue to respond positively to warming temperatures. My data suggest this treeline will continue to move westward across varying topographic features and soil conditions, resulting in a complex spatial mosaic of forested and nonforested communities behind the expanding forest margin.
    • 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.
    • How can participatory social network analysis contribute to community-led natural resources management?: a case study from Bua Province, Fiji Islands

      McDavid, Brook. M.; Todd, Susan; Vance-Borland, Ken; Gasbarro, Anthony (2015-12)
      Adaptive co-management of natural resources requires a variety of stakeholders across different scales and sectors to communicate and collaborate effectively. Social network theory recognizes that stakeholders interact with each other through networks and that various network characteristics affect the way in which they function. Social relationships can be visualized through network mapping and their patterns systematically analyzed in a process known as social network analysis (SNA). Participatory SNA allows members of the network to be involved in the mapping or analysis process. Participants can then apply their knowledge of these relationships to build, improve, or better utilize their connections to increase desired outcomes. These actions are referred to as network interventions or network weaving. In Bua Province in the Fiji Islands, the Wildlife Conservation Society and other partners are facilitating "ridge to reef" ecosystem-based management planning and are striving to build local capacity for natural resources governance and conservation. This study seeks to determine how participatory SNA might be used as a tool for enhancing community-led natural resources management. First it was necessary to develop methods for conducting participatory SNA research with rural Fijian communities. Network data was then gathered from eight Districts and fifty villages. Social network maps were presented back to community stakeholders for their interpretation and to elicit their ideas for improving their resource governance networks. SNA was used to characterize and map patterns of information exchange and collaboration among stakeholders involved in natural resource management in Bua. Even without complete network data, several patterns emerged. These included: 1) Traditional decision-making networks that were more cohesive than information exchange networks, reflecting the importance of social hierarchies for decision making within rural Fijian communities and the need for resource governance to link into these structures. 2) All the District-level networks had a number of fragmented groups and more ties within than between communities. This highlights the challenge of getting communities to effectively collaborate at the District-level due to issues like distance between villages, conflicts, barriers to communication (e.g. no phone/internet), and clan-based (mataqali) land-ownership system. These issues suggest the need for innovative actions to help bridge these gaps and present an opportunity for network weaving. 3) Actor position analyses (indegree and outdegree) provided a list of opinion leaders and people who are good at reaching out to others. These individuals may be good candidates to receive network weaver trainings. These measures also highlighted individuals and groups that communities would like to work with in the future and who facilitators can help to connect. Overall, these results indicate that SNA can be a valuable tool for better understanding relationships between actors involved in collaborative natural resource management, but its use in rural settings can be limited by the challenges of collecting data in remote villages. The participatory process of evaluating networks with participants was beneficial since it helped communities recognize and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of their resource governance networks. This resulted in a list of recommended capacity-building activities (such as alternative livelihoods projects and special trainings for traditional leaders) based on their self-identified needs. However, the real potential benefits of this process will not be realized until the study results are applied, until network weaving and capacity building actually take place, and the process is evaluated to determine if any positive outcomes resulted for communities or conservation. This will require considerable commitment on the part of a network coordinator(s) to impart network concepts, facilitate network weaving activities, and in due course empower a transformation from the status quo to self-organizing, action-oriented conservation networks.