• 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.
    • 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).
    • Survey Of Bombus Species (Hymenoptera: Apidae) Near Agricultural Lands In Interior Alaska

      Pampell, Rehanon; Holloway, Patricia; Knight, Charles; Sikes, Derek; Pantoja, Alberto (2010)
      Major world pollinators include bees, beetles, flies, butterflies, birds and bats, all of which help pollinate over 75% of Earth's flowering plant species and nearly 75% of the crops. In arctic and subarctic regions, bumble bees are considered important pollinators; however, immediate concerns involving climate change, colony collapse disorders in honey bees, and lack of faunistic insect studies in Alaska emphasize the need to study bumble bees in interior Alaska. I identified seventeen species of bumble bees from three localities: Delta Junction, Fairbanks, and Palmer, Alaska. Not all species were recovered from all localities and species richness and relative abundance varied by years. Delta Junction displayed the highest relative bumble bee abundance representing approximately 50% of the overall total of bumble bees collected during the two year study. Overall, the most common bumble bees near agricultural lands were B. centralis, B. frigidus , B. jonellus, B. melanopygus, B. mixtus, and B. occidentalis. Their populations and local diversity were highly variable from year to year. A species believed to be in decline in the Pacific North West states, B. occidentalis , was collected in relative abundance up to 13.5%; this species was collected from the three sites studied. Preliminary data indicates that bumble bees were found to be infected by Nosema and nematodes with infection rates up to 12.5 and 16.7% for Nosema and nematodes respectively. Of the eight species infected by parasites, B. occidentalis displayed the highest Nosema infection, while B. centralis was the species with the highest infection of nematodes.