Theses for the School of Natural Resources & Agricultural Sciences

Recent Submissions

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Temporal and spatial variation of broadleaf forest flammability in boreal Alaska

    Wehmas, Maija I.; Verbyla, David; Mann, Daniel; Hollingsworth, Teresea (2018-08)
    The boreal forest is a carbon reservoir containing roughly 40% of the world's reactive soil carbon, which is mainly cycled by wildland fires. Climate warming in boreal Alaska has changed the wildfire regime such that an increase in broadleaf forest relative to conifer forest is likely, which may reduce landscape flammability. However, the current and future flammability of broadleaf forest in a warming climate is not well understood. We used pre-fire and post-fire geospatial data to investigate the flammability of upland boreal forest patches in Interior Alaska in relation to summer weather conditions. Our objectives were to assess burning of broadleaf forest patches during "Normal" vs. "Large Fire Years", by week within a fire season, and by topographic position. Using 30-meter land-cover and fire-severity grids, we estimated the flammability of upland broadleaf forest patches during Large and Normal Fire Years. We then tested for topographic effects using a solar radiation index to eliminate potential deviations within the vegetation. Finally, Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) hotspots were used to track the spatial extent of burns during the fire season by examining the periods of fire activity and intensity. Flammability of broadleaf forest patches varied both in time and space. Even during Normal Fire Years, broadleaf forest patches exhibited substantial flammability, with a mean of over 50% patch area burned. Patch flammability was significantly higher during Large Fire Years. Burning of broadleaf patches varied with topographic position and correlated with potential insolation. Broadleaf forest patches burned most frequently in late June-early July. Contrary to "conventional wisdom", broadleaf forest patches in boreal Alaska are susceptible to burning even during Normal Fire Years. With climate warming, the flammability of broadleaf forest is likely to increase due to more extreme fire weather events. Thus, although the frequency of broadleaf forest patches on the landscape is likely to increase with more frequent and severe wildfires, their effectiveness as a fire break may decrease in the future.
  • Birch, Berries, And The Boreal Forest: Activities And Impacts Of Harvesting Non-Timber Forest Products In Interior Alaska

    Maher, Kimberley Anne C.; Juday, Glenn P.; Barber, Valerie; Gerlach, S. Craig; Watso, Annette (2013)
    Harvesting wild berries, firewood, and other non-timber forest products (NTFPs) from the boreal forest in Interior Alaska is a common activity amongst local residents. NTFPs are harvested for personal use, subsistence, and commercial purposes. While these activities contribute to informal household economies and livelihoods, harvest of NTFPs are not well documented in Alaska. Availability of these ecosystem services may be altered under changing management and climate regimes. This interdisciplinary dissertation takes a look at the activities and impacts of current NTFP harvesting practices. Survey results from a forest use survey provide insight into harvest activity in the Tanana Valley. Wild blueberries (38.5% of households with mean harvested amount of 7.7 quarts) and firewood (25.0% of households with a mean harvest amount of 4.7 cords) were reported harvested with greatest frequency, and harvesting activities were mostly concentrated around larger population centers. Interviews were conducted with personal use and subsistence NTFP harvesters from Interior Alaska. Participants enjoy harvesting from the forest, and that the importance of harvesting is a combination of both the intangible benefits from the activity and the tangible harvested items. Harvested NTFPs were seen as high-quality products that were otherwise unavailable or inaccessible. Birch syrup is a commercially available NTFP produced in Alaska by a small number of companies. Similar to maple syrup, producing birch syrup is a labor intensive process with marginal profits. Interviews were conducted with workers in the Alaskan birch syrup industry, who reported that they were seeking an alternative to the traditional employment. The effects from mechanical damage from tapping for spring sap on birch's vigor are of concern to birch syrup producers and natural resource managers. This study compared the annual increment growth of Alaskan birch trees, Betula neoalaskana, between tapped and untapped trees. No significant difference was detected from tapping, but annual variability in growth was strongly significant. A temperature index accounted for nearly two-thirds of the annual variability. Pairing this index with two climate scenarios, birch growth was extended out through the 21st century. As temperatures rise, birch in Interior Alaska are projected to face a critical threshold, which may limit or extinguish their ability to sustain growth and yield a sustainable sap resource. Integrating the survey, interview, and dendroclimatological data provides a richer picture of how NTFP harvesters actively use the forest and about the benefits derived. These findings can assist resource managers in balancing these needs with those of other forest uses on public land.
  • Anatomical And Mechanical Characteristics Of Woods Used To Manufacture Bassoons

    Levings, Carolyn K.; Barber, Valerie; Alix, Claire; Hulsey, Leroy; Keating, Richard; Rydlinski, George (2012)
    The purpose of this dissertation was three-fold -- 1) to determine if anatomical characteristics and mechanical characteristics derived from tapping (the act of striking an object lightly) can be used to more accurately describe bassoon resonant wood than the characters in use now, 2) to determine if any Alaska hardwoods can be used to construct bassoons, and 3) to produce lists of potential North American hardwoods and resonant bassoon wood characters. The bassoon resonant woods (Acer spp., Dalbergia melanoxylon, and Pyrus spp.) were compared to a known non-resonant bassoon wood (Juglans nigra). Vessel length and width, fiber length, and axial parenchyma width were measured in sectioned and macerated wood slides, along with the ratios of crystalline cellulose, lignin, pectin, and other aromatics in the cell wall. Partial frequencies created from tapping specimens on each longitudinal face were measured from melodic and peak partial spectrograms, as well as the spectrum obtained from the beginning of the sound. MANOVA and univariate ANOVA showed the resonant woods were significantly different from the non-resonant Juglans nigra using the characters measured. These characters were then used to compare two Alaska hardwoods (Alnus rubra and Betula neoalaskana) to the temperate resonant woods (Acer spp. and Pyrus spp.) and the non-resonant Juglans nigra using k-means clustering, MANOVA, and univariate ANOVA. Both Alaska hardwoods grouped with the non-resonant Juglans nigra. Lastly a list of potential North American hardwoods to be checked anatomically was compiled, as well as a list of characters that combine those used now as well as characters found in this study.
  • Soil Fertility And Corn And Soybean Yield And Quality In A Six-Year Nitrogen And Phosphorus Fertilization Experiment

    Anthony, Peter M.; Sparrow, Stephen; Malzer, Gary; David, Valentine,; Zhang, Mingcho (2012)
    Optimum management of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) fertilizers for corn [Zea mays L.] and soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] production requires quantitative understanding of multiple soil processes and crop responses, including supply and immobilization of N and P by soil, the response of yield and quality to nutrient availability, and the relationships and interactions between N and P cycling, crop response, and other soil physical and chemical variables. We conducted a six-year experiment on two 16-ha fields on glacial-till soils in south-central Minnesota. In each year of a corn--soybean rotation, we measured soil physical and chemical parameters and grain yield and quality at a 0.014-ha resolution within each field. These observations coincided with placement of a randomized complete block, split plot design of N and P fertilizer treatments. Spatial patterns of mineralizable N were consistent over time. Mineralizable N was highly correlated to soil nitrate at a well-drained site, but not at a poorly-drained site. Increases in available soil P per kg of net P addition were significantly related to soil pH. Within fields, spatial patterns of soybean yields were highly correlated across years, and we observed consistent relationships between yield and soil variables. Overall, soybean yield related positively to soil P and Zn and negatively to pH at all site-years. Quadratic-plateau regression models of soybean yield in relation to soil P and Zn indicate that in high pH soils at these sites, yield is optimized when soil P and Zn levels are higher than current recommendations. Corn yields responded significantly to N rate and N rate by P rate interaction in all site-years. Whole-field economic optimum N rate differed significantly by site-year and by P treatment at some site-years. Site-specific P fertilization should account for spatial variation in soil P buffering capacity. Nitrogen mineralization and NxP nutrient interactions should be accounted for in agronomic management decisions for corn production. The consistent influence of soil pH on nutrient cycling and crop response indicates the potential benefit to amelioration of high pH in calcareous glacial-till soils. Results highlight the significance of spatial variability in nutrient cycling to crop management.
  • Diversity In The Boreal Forest Of Alaska: Distribution And Impacts On Ecosystem Services

    Young, Brian D.; Yarie, John; Chapin, F. Stuart; Greenburg, Josh; Huettmann, Falk; Verbyla, David (2012)
    Within the forest management community, diversity is often considered as simply a list of species present at a location. In this study, diversity refers to species richness and evenness and takes into account vegetation structure (i.e. size, density, and complexity) that characterize a given forest ecosystem and can typically be measured using existing forest inventories. Within interior Alaska the largest forest inventories are the Cooperative Alaska Forest Inventory and the Wainwright Forest Inventory. The limited distribution of these inventories constrains the predictions that can be made. In this thesis, I examine forest diversity in three distinct frameworks; Recruitment, Patterns, and Production. In Chapter 1, I explore forest management decisions that may shape forest diversity and its role and impacts in the boreal forest. In Chapter 2, I evaluate and map the relationships between recruitment and species and tree size diversity using a geospatial approach. My results show a consistent positive relationship between recruitment and species diversity and a general negative relationship between recruitment and tree size diversity, indicating a tradeoff between species diversity and tree size diversity in their effects on recruitment. In Chapter 3, I modeled and mapped current and possible future forest diversity patterns within the boreal forest of Alaska using machine learning. The results indicate that the geographic patterns of the two diversity measures differ greatly for both current conditions and future scenarios and that these are more strongly influenced by human impacts than by ecological factors. In Chapter 4, I developed a method for mapping and predicting forest biomass for the boreal forest of interior Alaska using three different machine-learning techniques. I developed first time high resolution prediction maps at a 1 km2 pixel size for aboveground woody biomass. My results indicate that the geographic patterns of biomass are strongly influenced by the tree size class diversity of a given stand. Finally, in Chapter 5, I argue that the methods and results developed for this dissertation can aid in our understanding of forest ecology and forest management decisions within the boreal region.
  • Conditions For Effective Use Of Community Sustainability Indicators And Adaptive Learning

    Powell, James E.; Kofinas, Gary (2012)
    As the number of community sustainability indicator programs (SIPs) increases in many regions of the world, including in the United States, questions continue to arise regarding how decision makers can use sustainability indicators (SIs) to contribute in a meaningful way to their efforts to build resilient and sustainable communities. Through an analysis of the sustainability activities in sample cities from across the U.S. and a case study of one city that adopted SIs but has yet to implement them, this study seeks to uncover the conditions for effective SI implementation and use. The study began with a review of the literature on communities' sustainability efforts and the historical roots of sustainability and resilience theory leading up to today's sustainability indicator projects. A heuristic model for adaptive learning is presented to illustrate the relationships among sustainability, resilience, and administrative concepts, including the goals and domains of sustainability indicators. The study's data collection and analysis began with an Internet-based investigation of 200 U.S. cities. A five-tiered system was devised to categorize findings regarding sustainability patterns and trends in studied cities, ranging from an absence of sustainability activities through fully implemented sustainability indicators. The second phase of data collection employed an electronic survey completed by informants from a 38-city sample of the 200 investigated cities, followed by phone interviews with informants from cities that ranked high for developed sustainability programs. A case study using focus group research was then conducted of one small U.S. city, Juneau, Alaska, where local government adopted sustainability indicators in the 1990s but fell short of implementing them. Most cities in the U.S. have not developed sustainability indicator projects, and, among those that have, few have been able to implement them fully. Among highly ranked cities with sustainability indicators, several approaches, including innovative organizational structures and adaptive learning processes, were found to be present. Recommendations for incorporating such innovations and for grounding sustainability indicator projects in sustainability science, resilience thinking, and public administration theory are offered to help ensure sustainability indicators become fully operational in Juneau, as well as in other communities seeking to establish successful sustainability indicator programs.
  • Assessment And Prediction Of Potentially Mineralizable Organic Nitrogen For Subarctic Alaska Soils

    Zhao, Aiqin; Zhang, Mingchu (2011)
    The objective of this study was to identify a rapid laboratory technique to predict potentially mineralizable organic N for subarctic Alaska soils. Soil samples were taken from major agricultural area of subarctic Alaska. Laboratory incubation followed by kinetic model fit was first used to select a best model to estimate potential soil N mineralization. By correlating the model estimated organic N pool sizes and different chemical extracted organic N, I then found the best chemical method to estimate soil potentially mineralizable N. Spectroscopic properties of water extractable organic matter were also determined and correlated with model estimated organic N pool sizes in order to improve the estimation of soil mineralizable N pool. Finally, the best chemical method and spectroscopic property were used in the selected best kinetic model for the prediction of soil N mineralization in field incubation. Model comparisons showed that models with fixed rate constants were better than that the ones with rate constants estimated from simulation. Among models with fixed rate constants, fixed double exponential model was best. This model differentiated active mineralizable organic N pool with a fixed rate constant of 0.693 week-1 and slow mineralizable organic N pool with a fixed rate constant of 0.051 week-1. By correlating model estimated organic N pool size and chemical extracted organic N amount, I found that the potentially mineralizable organic N size was closely correlated with hot (80 �C) water extractable organic N or 1 M NaOH hydrolysable organic N. By correlating model estimated organic N size and spectroscopic characteristics of water extractable organic matter, I found that the active mineralizable organic N pool was correlated with humification index in cold (22 �C) water extraction (R 2=0.89, p<0.05), which indicates that characterizing extracted organic matter was a useful tool to improve the estimation of soil organic N pools. In summary, potential mineralizable organic N in soils from subarctic Alaska can be estimated by hot water extractable organic matter or 1 M NaOH hydrolysable organic N, which accounted for 70% and 63% of the variation in potentially mineralizable organic N, respectively. This approach will provide fundamental insight for farmers to manage N fertilizer application in agricultural land and also provide some basic information for ecologists on predicting N release from Alaska soil that can be used for assessing the N impact on ecosystem.
  • Hydrologic Controls On Carbon Cycling In Alaskan Coastal Temperate Rainforest Soils

    D'Amore, David V.; David, Valentine, (2011)
    The northern perhumid North American Pacific coastal temperate rainforest (NCTR) extends along the coastal margin of British Columbia and southeast Alaska and has some of the densest carbon stocks in the world. Northern temperate ecosystems such as the NCTR play an important role in the global balance of carbon flows between atmospheric and terrestrial pools. However, there is little information on key components of the forest carbon budget in this region. Specifically, the large pool of soluble carbon that is transferred from soils via streamwater as dissolved organic carbon (DOC) certainly plays a role in the total carbon balance in wet forests such as the NCTR. In order to address this information gap, I applied the concept of hydropedology to define functional landscape units based on soil type to quantify soil carbon fluxes and apply these estimates to a conceptual model for determining the carbon balance in three NCTR watersheds. The strong hydrologic gradient among ecosystems served as a template for constructing a conceptual design and approach for constraining carbon budget estimates in the watersheds. Replicated hydropedologic units were identified in three classes: sloping bogs, forested wetlands, and uplands. Estimates of annual soil respiration and DOC fluxes from the hydropedologic types were obtained through seasonal measurements combined with temperature-dependent models. Soil respiration fluxes varied significantly across the hydrologic gradient where soil respiration was 78, 178, and 235 g CO2 m -2 y-1 in sloping bogs, forested wetlands and uplands respectively. Average DOC flux was 7.7, 30.3, to 33.0 g C m-2 y-1 in sloping bog, forested wetland, and upland sites respectively. Estimates of carbon efflux from the terrestrial ecosystem was combined with values of net primary productivity from remote sensing to determine net ecosystem production (NEP). The average NEP estimated in three NCTR watersheds was 2.0 +/- 0.8 Mg C ha-1. Carbon loss as DOC was 10--30% of the total carbon flux from the watersheds confirming the importance of this vector of carbon loss in the NCTR. The watershed estimates indicate that forests of the NCTR serve as a carbon sinks consistent with the average worldwide rate of carbon sequestration in terrestrial ecosystems.
  • 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 Geobotanical Analysis Of Circumpolar Arctic Vegetation, Climate, And Substrate

    Raynolds, Martha K. (2009)
    The objective of the research presented in this dissertation was to better understand the factors controlling the present and potential future distribution of arctic vegetation. The analysis compares the Circumpolar Arctic Vegetation Map (CAVM) with circumpolar data sets of environmental characteristics. Geographical information system (GIS) software was used to overlay the CAVM with a satellite index of vegetation (normalized difference vegetation index, NDVI) and environmental factors that are most important in controlling the distribution of arctic vegetation, including summer temperature, landscape age, precipitation, snow cover, substrate chemistry (pH and salinity), landscape type, elevation, permafrost characteristics, and distance to sea. Boosted regression tree analysis was used to determine the relative importance of different environmental characteristics for different vegetation types and for different regions. Results of this research include maps, charts and tables that summarize and display the spatial characteristics of arctic vegetation. The data for arctic land surface temperature and landscape age are especially important new resources for researchers. These results are available electronically, not only as summary data, but also as GIS data layers with a spatial context (www.arcticatlas.org). The results emphasize the value and reliability of NDVI for studying arctic vegetation. The relationship between NDVI and summer temperatures across the circumpolar arctic was similar to the correlated increases in NDVI and temperature seen over the time period of satellite records. Summaries of arctic biomass based on NDVI match those based on extrapolation from ground samples. The boosted regression tree analysis described ecological niches of arctic vegetation types, demonstrating the importance of summer temperatures and landscape age in controlling the distribution of arctic vegetation. As the world continues to focus on the Arctic as an area undergoing accelerated warming due to global climate change, results presented here from spatially explicit analysis of existing arctic vegetation and environmental characteristics can be used to better understand plant distribution patterns, evaluate change in the vegetation, and calibrate models of arctic vegetation and animal habitat.
  • Applied Range Ecology Of Reindeer (Rangifer Tarandus Tarandus) On The Seward Peninsula, Alaska

    Finstad, Gregory Lawrence; Kielland, Knut; Harris, Norman (2008)
    Linking variation of the environment to animal production is key to successful range management. Ecological site descriptions (ESDs) are landscape units used by land managers for the grazing management of domestic reindeer ( Rangifer tarandus tarandus) on the Seward Peninsula, Alaska. This study investigated the appropriateness of using ESDs for the grazing management of reindeer and explored the use of alternate units to link landscape variation to animal production. ESD composition of reindeer ranges varied across the Seward Peninsula, but there was no relationship to either animal production, estimated by June calf weight and cow/calf ratios, or reindeer serum and tissue mineral concentrations. I have shown that reindeer do not graze uniformly across ESDs, but are selective, both temporally and spatially, in what they consume. Reindeer diet selection and animal production appear to be driven by temporal variation in the nutritional characteristics of individual forage species. Biomass production and seasonal nutritional characteristics of forage species were used develop a computerized mapping program for reindeer producers to identify high quality grazing areas. Production among herds was related with identified forage sources of protein in the diet. Reindeer in herds with smaller June calves consumed more catkins, stems and leaf buds of shrubs in May, presumably to compensate for lower protein reserves. Diets of reindeer and June calf weight were significantly predicted by the delta15N &permil; differential between antler core (AC) and antler periosteum (AP). Although animal production was related to landscape stratification at the species level, data showed that weather patterns affected forage nutrient concentration and foraging accessibility at a landscape level. Body weight and growth of female calves and the proportion of yearlings lactating the next summer were positively correlated with spring temperature and negatively correlated with winter severity and summer temperature. Land managers are using ESDs to monitor and assess the impact of grazing, but I have shown that landscape variation described at a multitude of scales other than ESD are linked to grazing patterns and animal production. I concluded that these alternative landscape units be integrated into reindeer range management currently being practiced on the Seward Peninsula.
  • Interactions Among Climate, Fire, And Vegetation In The Alaskan Boreal Forest

    Duffy, Paul Arthur; Rupp, Scott (2006)
    The boreal forest covers 12 million kM2 of the northern hemisphere and contains roughly 40% of the world's reactive soil carbon. The Northern high latitudes have experienced significant warming over the past century and there is a pressing need to characterize the response of the disturbance regime in the boreal forest to climatic change. The interior Alaskan boreal forest contains approximately 60 million burnable hectares and, relative to the other disturbance mechanisms that exist in Alaska, fire dominates at the landscape-scale. In order to assess the impact of forecast climate change on the structure and function of the Alaskan boreal forest, the interactions among climate, fire and vegetation need to be quantified. The results of this work demonstrate that monthly weather and teleconnection indices explain the majority of observed variability in annual area burned in Alaska from 1950-2003. Human impacts and fire-vegetation interactions likely account for a significant portion of the remaining variability. Analysis of stand age distributions indicate that anthropogenic disturbance in the early 1900's has left a distinct, yet localized impact. Additionally, we analyzed remotely sensed burn severity data to better understand interactions among fire, vegetation and topography. These results show a significant relationship between burn severity and vegetation type in flat landscapes but not in topographically complex landscapes, and collectively strengthen the argument that differential flammability of vegetation plays a significant role in fire-vegetation interactions. These results were used to calibrate a cellular automata model based on the current conceptual model of interactions among weather, fire and vegetation. The model generates spatially explicit maps of simulated stand ages at 1 km resolution across interior Alaska, and output was validated using observed stand age distributions. Analysis of simulation output suggests that significant temporal variability of both the mean and variance of the stand age distribution is an intrinsic property of the stand age distributions of the Alaskan boreal forest. As a consequence of this non-stationarity, we recommend that simulation based methods be used to analyze the impact of forecast climatic change on the structure and function of the Alaskan boreal forest. To assess the impact climate change has on the Alaskan boreal forest, interactions among climate, fire and vegetation were quantified. This work shows that climatic signals exert the dominant influence on area burned. These results inform a simulation model to assess the historical and future states of the Alaskan boreal forest.
  • Mechanisms Of Soil Carbon Stabilization In Black Spruce Forests Of Interior Alaska: Soil Temperature, Soil Water, And Wildfire

    Kane, Evan S.; Valentine, David (2006)
    The likely direction of change in soil organic carbon (SOC) in the boreal forest biome, which harbors roughly 22% of the global soil carbon pool, is of marked concern because climate warming is projected to be greatest in high latitudes and temperature is the cardinal determinant of soil C mineralization. Moreover, the majority of boreal forest SOC is harbored in surficial organic horizons which are the most susceptible to consumption in wildfire. This research focuses on mechanisms of soil C accumulation in recently burned (2004) and unburned (~1850-1950) black spruce (Picea mariana [Mill.] BSP) forests along gradients in stand productivity and soil temperature. The primary research questions in these three chapters address: (1) how the interaction between stand production and temperature effect the stabilization of C throughout the soil profile, (2) the quantity and composition of water soluble organic carbon (WSOC) as it is leached from the soil across gradients in productivity and climate, and (3) physiographic controls on organic matter consumption in wildfire and the legacy of wildfire in stable C formation (pyrogenic C, or black carbon). Soil WSOC concentrations increased while SOC stocks decreased with increasing soil temperature and stand production along the gradients studied. Stocks of BC were minuscule in comparison to organic horizon SOC stocks, and therefore the C stabilizing effect of wildfire was small in comparison to SOC accumulation through arrested decomposition. We conclude that C stocks are likely to be more vulnerable to burning as soil C stocks decline relative to C sequestered in aboveground woody tissues in a warmer climate. These findings contribute to refining estimates of potential changes in boreal soil C stocks in the context of a changing climate.
  • Carbon Cycling In Three Mature Black Spruce ( Picea Mariana [Mill.] B.S.P.) Forests In Interior Alaska

    Vogel, Jason Gene; Valentine, David (2004)
    Climate warming in high latitudes is expected to alter the carbon cycle of the boreal forest. Warming will likely increase the rate of organic matter decomposition and microbial respiration. Faster organic matter decomposition should increase plant available nutrients and stimulate plant growth. I examined these predicted relationships between C cycle components in three similar black spruce forests (Picea mariana [Mill] B.S.P) near Fairbanks, Alaska, that differed in soil environment and in-situ decomposition. As predicted, greater in-situ decomposition rates corresponded to greater microbial respiration and black spruce aboveground growth. However root and soil respiration were both greater at the site where decomposition was slowest, indicating greater C allocation to root processes with slower decomposition. It is unclear what environmental factor controls spruce allocation. Low temperature or moisture could cause spruce to increase belowground allocation because slower decomposition leads to low N availability, but foliar N concentration was similar across sites and root N concentration greater at the slow decomposition site. The foliar isotopic composition of 13C indicated soil moisture was lower at the site with greater root and soil respiration. From a literature review of mature black spruce forests, it appears drier (e.g. Alaska) regions of the boreal forest have greater soil respiration because of greater black spruce C allocation belowground. Organic matter characteristics identified with pyrolysis gas chromatography-mass spectrometry correlated with microbial processes, but organic matter chemistry less influenced C and N mineralization than did temperature. Also, differences among sites in C and net N mineralization rates were few and difficult to explain from soil characteristics. Warming had a greater influence on C and N mineralization than the mediatory effect of soil organic matter chemistry. In this study, spruce root C allocation varied more among the three stands than other ecosystem components of C cycling. Spruce root growth most affected the annual C balance by controlling forest floor C accumulation, which was remarkably sensitive to root severing. Predicting the response of black spruce to climate change will require an understanding of how spruce C allocation responds to available moisture and soil temperature.
  • Mechanisms Involved In The Cold Tolerant Trichoderma Atroviride Biocontrol

    Cheng, Mingyuan; McBeath, Jenifer H. (2004)
    Trichoderma atroviride is a cold tolerant fungus that parasitizes a wide range of plant pathogenic fungi. The mechanisms involved in biocontrol by T. atroviride are only partially understood. This research evaluated the effect of four different groups of plant pathogenic fungi (Botrytis cinerea, Phytophthora capsici, Rhizoctonia solani and Sclerotinia sclerotiorum) on enzyme expression at 22�C and 7�C. The enzymes expressed (proteinase and endo-beta-1,3-glucanase) were purified and characterized, and three 73 kDa N-acetyl-beta- D-glucosaminidase genes from three different T. atroviride biotypes were sequenced. The R-1,6-glucanase profiles and the regulation of N-acetyl-beta-D-glucosaminidases by plant pathogenic fungi were also studied. I document the production of N-acetyl-beta-D-glucosaminidase, exochitinase, endochitinase, beta-1,3-glucanase, beta-1,6-glucanase and proteinase by T. atroviride at room temperature. The timing of enzyme expression was pathogen dependent. A high concentration of glucose repressed the expression of glucanases, but had no effect on the expression of N-acetyl-beta-D-glucosaminidase. At 7�C, T. atroviride produced the same enzymes as at room temperature except beta-1,6-glucanase. The total activities of the chitinases increased over a 30 day incubation period while the expression of glucanases and proteinase depended on the inducer. A new 18.8 kDa serine proteinase and a new 77 kDa endo-beta-1,3-glucanase were purified to electrophoretical homogeneity. These two purified enzymes showed strong antifungal activity by inhibiting conidial germination of Botrytis cinerea. Three 73 kDa N-acetyl-beta-D-glucosaminidase genes were sequenced from T. atroviride biotypes 861, 453 and 603. Gene sequences of the enzyme from the T. atroviride biotypes are different from the published gene sequence of T. harzianum . This indicates that the N-acetyl-beta-D-glucosaminidase sequence can be used to differentiate the species and isolates of Trichoderma. The expression of beta-1,6-glucanase is complex and at least three different sizes of beta-1,6-glucanase were detected from T. atroviride. The expression of beta-1,6-glucanase varied with carbon source and pH. Mycelia of plant pathogen regulated the expression of N-acetyl-beta-D-glucosaminidase. Two different sizes of N-acetyl-beta-D-glucosaminidase were detected when T. atroviride was grown with S. sclerotiorum and its filtrates. Only one N-acetyl-beta- D-glucosaminidase was detected with other pathogens, autoclaved mycelia or glucose. The expression of a 73 kDa N-acetyl-beta-D-glucosaminidase was contact-dependent and regulated by an extracellular factor.
  • 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.

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