Sub-communities within this community

Recent Submissions


    Chang, Kevin; Williams, Jade (2023-07)
    Autonomous, or self-driving, vehicles have the capability to either fully or partially replace a human driver in the navigation to a destination. To better understand how receptive society will be to these types of vehicles, this study focused on the perceived level of trust in autonomous vehicles (AVs) by rural drivers and passengers. An online survey that examined the behavioral and value-based perspectives of drivers was developed and distributed to respondents across the United States, and a total of 1,247 valid responses were collected and analyzed. Based on the results, rural (and non-rural) respondents had similar levels of trust when comparing self-driving vehicles with human-driven vehicles, though older people and those with less education tended to have less trust in self-driving vehicles. The outcomes from this study can be used to support targeted outreach efforts for those drivers who remain skeptical about the overall safety benefits of this evolving transportation technology area.
  • "Love doesn't cancel colonialism": land, lesbians, and settler colonialism

    Janeschek, K. J.; Coffman, Chris; Johnson, Sara; Brightwell, Gerri; Schell, Jennifer (2023-05)
    This thesis examines the relationship between lesbians, land, and settler colonialism through an analysis of several texts written about Antarctica by lesbians. In the introduction, this thesis identifies the three fields of study which it draws upon--rural queer studies, queer nature studies, and queer indigenous studies--and notes the absence of settler colonialism as a point of analysis in rural queer studies despite the field's focus on the relationship between queer people and land. The following section, "Lesbians, Land, and Settler Homonationalism," provides both historical background of lesbian land-based movements such as the landdykes and theoretical considerations important for the thesis, namely how non-Native queer people and identities often uphold settler colonialism. In the next chapter, "The Antarctica Question," the thesis explores Antarctica's colonial history and its current queer relationship to settler colonialism. This is followed by a discussion of three texts--Approaching Ice and Towards Antarctica by Elizabeth Bradfield and On the Ice by Gretchen Legler--which examines the ways these writers' relationship with Antarctica resembles other lesbian land movements, their negotiations with settler colonialism and a masculine Antarctic explorer history, and the personal (queer) transformations enabled by lived experiences on land (or ice). The conclusion identifies how a settler colonial logic might lapse through a relationship with land and the transformations that such a relationship forges, but ultimately will heal over the lapse in its framework unless challenged directly.
  • Chukchi communities of the Bering Strait region, a hundred years after Bogoras

    Zdor, Eduard; Yamin-Pasternak, Sveta; George, John C.; Koester, David; Plattet, Patrick; Schweitzer, Peter (2023-05)
    The Chukchi are the Indigenous people of the farthest northeastern part of Eurasia, nowadays called Chukotka. It happens that, at the dawn of the 20th century, Chukchi culture became the focus of a landmark publication The Chukchee, authored by a luminary Russian ethnographer Waldemar Bogoras. Produced as part of the special series Publications of the Jesup North Pacific Expedition, this voluminous monograph, overwhelmingly, continues to be a go-to resource to learn about the Chukchi customs, spiritual beliefs, material culture, and way of life. As an Indigenous Chukchi scholar who, to my knowledge, is the first of my people to be earning a doctorate degree in anthropology, I find it valuable to present a contemporary ethnographic portrait of the Chukotkan communities, drawn from my lived experience and the field research conducted a little over a century past the time of Bogoras. Featuring insights from several towns and villages, this dissertation focuses mostly on the Chukchi communities of Neshkan and Enurmino located on the Arctic Coast of Chukotka. Traditional subsistence continues to be a great factor in shaping the identity and worldview of the Neshkan and Enurmino residents. Subsistence, however, is not the only source of influence that builds the sociocultural pattern of these communities. Today's Chukchi are complexly integrated within a global society that permeates even seemingly the most remote and isolated settlements with information technologies. The clash of influences gives rise to a complex pattern of human passions and life goals. Exploring the socio-economic, spiritual, and other cultural dimensions of contemporary Chukchi life, my research converges on the question: what are the modern-day Chukchi communities? By what means do these social units sustain a strong sense of distinct cultural identity as their members adapt to globalizing influences and environmental changes? Such questions are broadly applicable across social and historical contexts and offer fruitful grounds for considering anthropological theories of adaptation and culture in the largest sense.
  • Environmental and demographic drivers of a rapidly expanding sub-arctic moose population

    Zavoico, Vassily Sebastian; Crimmins, Shawn; Eisaguirre, Joseph; Mulder, Christa; Tape, Ken (2023-05)
    Anthropogenic forces are dramatically altering the dynamics of many populations and ranges. A thorough understanding of drivers and mechanisms underlying population dynamics is needed to better understand reasons for range shifts and broaden our understanding of how environmental and demographic drivers affect population trajectories. In this thesis, I present two chapters that investigate the population dynamics of a rapidly colonizing moose (Alces alces) population in southwest Alaska. In the first chapter, I correlated environmental variables with demographic rates estimated using a multistate model and found that annual patterns of vegetation productivity and winter severity affected calf survival most strongly, followed by twinning rate. In the second chapter, I applied transient life table response experiments (tLTREs) to demographic rates and components of population structure estimated using an integrated population model (IPM). I found that, although calf survival did not have the highest sensitivity out of all other parameters, variation in calf survival contributed the most to variation in population growth rate. Together, these chapters suggest that variation in environmental conditions drove variation in population growth rate via effects on calf survival. Results uphold and add nuance to the demographic buffering hypothesis (DBH), which states that species evolve to buffer highest sensitivity demographic rates against variation that could otherwise decrease individual fitness and population sustainability. My research indicates that an outcome of the DBH is that lower sensitivity vital rates ultimately have a higher actual impact on population growth rate. Additionally, I found that the environmental drivers that currently limit population growth exhibit long-term trends consistent with climate change in ways that are amenable to moose, which suggests climate change facilitated moose colonization of the region. The lack of shortterm trends, lower adult survival in the most heavily hunted part of the study area, and the abrupt colonization that aligned with the irruption of a local caribou (Rangifer tarandus) herd indicate that human hunting pressure also played an important role in allowing moose to establish themselves at high density. These findings pertaining to drivers and mechanisms of population dynamics are relevant for conservation and management of large herbivores across the world that might similarly expand into new areas.
  • Development of a sulfolane plume in an aquifer located in discontinuous permafrost

    Whiting, Catherine E.; Barnes, David; Aggarwal, Srijan; Shur, Yuri (2023-05)
    The release of sulfolane from a petroleum refinery to a river flood plain aquifer in a discontinuous permafrost region in North Pole, Alaska has been thoroughly monitored, with the initial site characterizations beginning in 2009. It has been observed that the sulfolane plume advancement is different from typical contaminant plume development in aquifers in the temperate region. This difference relates to the existence of permafrost. Permafrost itself is impermeable but open or lateral taliks provide a connection point of subpermafrost and suprapermafrost groundwater. The redirection of groundwater by these thawed areas in permafrost can produce unpredictable contaminant concentrations at various depths of the aquifers. Groundwater also has the ability to converge and diverge as a result of varying permafrost-table distribution. The contaminant can be channeled and redirected in an area with a deep permafrost-table and be absent or minimal along a shallow permafrost-table. The objective of this study is to examine the relationship between the progression of the sulfolane groundwater plume and the spatial distribution of the discontinuous permafrost and topography in the area between the Tanana and Chena Rivers using the results obtained from 156 monitoring wells, including well logs and sulfolane concentrations. An additional goal of this research is to classify the permafrost features and mechanisms controlling the transport of sulfolane. Spatial maps of the temporal contaminant distribution are produced to aid with the plume delineation, as well as contaminant trend analyses for each monitoring well (shallow/mid/deep) sulfolane concentration over the measured period. A permafrost-table elevation (top of permafrost) map was developed and utilized as a base map under the sulfolane concentration contours to correlate permafrost location and the spatial distribution of sulfolane over a period of six years. This study finds that the variable distribution of permafrost has a great effect on the flow of groundwater, and thus contamination, in the aquifer. The presence of open taliks is the most substantial modifier to the predicted path of the sulfolane groundwater contamination plume. In addition, degradation of permafrost distribution in the future due to thawing would further enhance the preferential movement of the groundwater and sulfolane and continue to move contamination in directions that would not have been predicted by looking at regional groundwater gradients alone. An area thought to be absent of sulfolane contamination may become susceptible, and the well network should be expanded to accommodate extended monitoring of this particular sulfolane plume.
  • Dietary resource use of nearshore fishes among estuaries that differ in glacial cover

    Stadler, Lindsey R.; Iken, Katrin; Gorman, Kristen; Seitz, Andrew; von Biela, Vanessa (2023-05)
    Glaciers have a major impact on the way climate change manifests in aquatic ecosystems. When glaciers are present, rising air temperatures associated with climate change can decrease water temperatures and increase freshwater flux due to glacier melt compared to the opposite pattern in neighboring watersheds and estuaries without glaciers. This study considers whether differences in glacier cover of watersheds upstream of nearshore estuaries affect fish food web dynamics, because fish are important integrators of energy flow and ecosystem processes within estuaries. Dietary resources of common nearshore fish species were compared among estuaries with a gradient of upstream glacial cover (0 - 60% watershed cover) and across discharge periods (pre-peak, peak, post-peak) in the Northern Gulf of Alaska (Kachemak Bay) using stomach content and stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes. Comparison among estuaries and all three discharge periods focused on crescent gunnels (Pholis laeta), because they are unlikely to move among estuaries and, therefore, are likely represent local conditions. Discharge period had greater influence on the diet composition and trophic niche breadth of crescent gunnels than glacial coverage. Resource use of more mobile staghorn sculpin (Leptocottus armatus) and starry flounder (Platichthys stellatus) were also considered as additional indicator species within the post-peak discharge period. Staghorn sculpin and starry flounder exploited a larger prey base compared to crescent gunnels, as expected for more mobile fishes. Although fishes differed in their dietary resource use among estuaries, there was no obvious pattern associated with the glacial coverage in any fish species examined. Diet seasonality was apparent with a larger niche breadth in crescent gunnel stomach contents during the post-peak discharge period compared to pre-peak and peak periods. Increasing discharge appears to be associated with a shift in prey composition compared to pre-peak and peak discharge periods. Higher degrees of freshwater input during periods with higher discharge volume may change the organic matter pathways that support lower trophic level prey, resulting in lower trophic position of nearshore fishes over the course of the summer. The results presented here suggest that glacier cover alone is not a major driver of estuarine food webs. It appears that environmental conditions associated with glacial cover during our study period (2020-2021) were within a range that allow nearshore fishes to have similar energy pathways and prey bases across these estuaries. The influence of glaciers on estuarine food webs may become more apparent in years of extreme warmth or drought.
  • Elitnaurilleq piciryaramtenek qanemcitgun: a participatory teacher action research study to improve language and literacy instruction in a Yup'ik immersion school

    Samson, Angass'aq Sally; Siekmann, Sabine; Parker-Webster, Joan; Marlow, Patrick; John, Theresa Arevgaq (2023-05)
    Elitnaurilleq Piciryaramtenek Qanemcitgun: A participatory teacher action research study (Teaching our way of life through stories) is participatory action research involving four Yugtun immersion teachers investigating first and second grade Yugtun reading and language instruction through lesson study. Lesson study involves a group of educators collaboratively implementing teacher action research to investigate a problem area in their teaching. The research questions that guided our investigation include: How can teachers' involvement in a Participatory Action Research (a) contribute to their own professional development; (b) improve their language teaching; and (c) generate new strategies for teaching reading based on Yugtun language principles? Data collections included video recordings of our sessions, the journal entries of the participants, and audio recording of the interviews. Data were analyzed using Constructivist Grounded Theory (Charmaz, 2014). Primary categories that emerged were: Selecting vocabulary words; organizing lesson that help students make meaning from text; How and when to teach vocabulary words; Recognizing differences between Yugtun and English morphology in relation to language and literacy instruction. Each of these categories are addressed in terms of a professional development inservice and a workshop series designed to involve teachers in continued lesson study.
  • Societal structure, family, and masculinity in the Bildungsroman: an analysis of The Great Santini and Portnoy's Complaint

    Salzman, Aaron; Farmer, Daryl; Carr, Rich; Holt, Joseph; Heyne, Eric (2023-05)
    This thesis considers the idea of Becoming as presented in post-World War II American novels. As a model, the Hero's Journey is presented as a structure in which an individual can achieve freedom and satisfaction through discipline ,according to internal psychological forces in combination with external narratives. In the body of this piece, I present two narratives: Ben Meechum's successful journey to adulthood under the cruel tutelage of his father, and Alex Portnoy's journey to an unstable adulthood after choosing a life different from what was modeled by his overbearing parents, who followed strict cultural rules. By comparing a successful journey to one which is unsuccessful, we can note how deviancies in upbringing, according to structures like The Hero's Journey, have a lasting impact characters as they seek to become well-adjusted, productive adults. We can also note the necessity of Becoming for the success of a character, as well as the fact that completing a Becoming journey is not guaranteed. The Hero's Journey is a literary story structure that appears in these novels and shows a path to Becoming.
  • Phenotypic divergence between hatchery pink and coho salmon and their wild counterparts

    Reich, Alexandra G.; McPhee, Megan; Adkison, Milo; Waters, Charles; Seitz, Andrew (2023-05)
    Interbreeding between hatchery and wild Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) is an ongoing management concern, particularly when hatchery Pacific salmon possess divergent phenotypes. This project investigated the potential domestication of hatchery Pacific salmon from the relaxation of natural and sexual selection; such divergence might reduce wild Pacific salmon fitness if strays interbreed with natural-born fish. In Southeast Alaska, U.S.A., we compared two years (even- and odd-year lines) of hatchery pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) and one year of hatchery coho salmon (O. kisutch) to their wild source populations to characterize divergence in phenotypes associated with mating and reproductive success. Specifically, we examined secondary sexual traits in males and fecundity and egg quality traits in females. Due to the relaxation of natural and sexual selection in the hatchery during the spawning period, we expected to observe hatchery male Pacific salmon with shorter snouts and smaller humps and hatchery female Pacific salmon with a larger gonadosomatic index (GSI), smaller eggs, and lower egg energy and lipid density when compared to their wild counterparts. Hatchery-wild differences in GSI and egg size in coho salmon females and snout length and body depth (a proxy measurement for hump size) in odd-year pink salmon males supported our hypotheses. However, hatchery coho salmon males had larger snouts and body depths than the wild coho salmon males and odd-year pink hatchery eggs were larger than the eggs of their wild counterparts, contrary to our hypotheses. No differences were observed in coho salmon egg composition, even- and odd-year female pink salmon GSI, even-year pink salmon egg size, and even-year pink salmon male snout and body depth. While the results were mixed, we found evidence that hatchery rearing alters reproductive traits. Our results underscore the need to better understand the possible biological consequences of altered reproductive traits on wild populations, including comprehensive marking of hatchery releases to identify strays, monitoring of phenotypes in hatchery populations, and consideration of hatchery practices that will reduce domestication.
  • Stock composition and coastal migration characteristics of coho salmon in fisheries of Norton Sound, Alaska

    Henslee, Luke H.; Seitz, Andrew; Westley, Peter; Liller, Zachary (2023-05)
    Knowledge of the dynamic interactions between directed fishing effort and exploitable stocks of Pacific salmon Oncorhynchus spp. is needed to balance harvest opportunities against diversity conservation in mixed stock fisheries. This is often accomplished by relating stock proportions in commercial landings with spatial and temporal strata of harvests, but catch partitioning is hindered in fisheries targeting local stocks that do not display enough discernable variation for classification using modern tools (e.g., genetic stock identification). This study investigates the composition and migratory behavior of Coho Salmon O. kisutch stocks in the Norton Sound district of Alaska by mimicking local fisheries to capture and tag 578 fish in the contiguous Shaktoolik and Unalakleet subdistricts over two seasons. A network of acoustic receivers monitored coastal movement and freshwater entry, and 341 individuals last detected in spawning areas were assigned to a stock of origin based on assumed natal site fidelity. In Chapter 1, models using spatiotemporal and demographic variables were fit to commercial harvest data in project years and estimated that 32.9% of Shaktoolik subdistrict catch was Shaktoolik stock, while 86.7% of landings were Unalakleet stock in Unalakleet subdistrict. In Chapter 2, significant differences in migratory characteristics were identified among stocks within the study area, with local stocks swimming slower and further offshore relative to fish bound for spawning streams outside the study area, and residency time within coastal fishery boundaries decreased for all stocks as the season progressed. Detection histories were used to estimate parameters for multistate movement models which indicated that Unalakleet stock members are more likely than other observed stocks to explore coastal waters outside their natal subdistrict before moving into freshwater. Results of this study confirm that coastal salmon fisheries have access to a mixture of stocks whose unique migratory characteristics might be leveraged for stock identification and diversity conservation.
  • Investigating factors affecting energy consumption in rural Alaskan water treatment and distribution systems, and exploring energy-saving strategies for wastewater treatment in cold climates

    Rashedin, Muradur; Aggarwal, Srijan; Dev, Subhabrata; Schiewer, Silke; Huang, Daisy (2023-05)
    Underlying permafrost in rural and remote Alaskan communities creates difficulties in connecting these communities to the electrical grid, resulting in the import of fuel from nearby cities by air or barge for electricity generation. During the winter months, a large amount of fuel and electricity is required for water treatment and distribution in these communities to keep the water temperature above freezing. Furthermore, domestic wastewater in rural Alaska is treated within wastewater lagoons, which lose their treatment efficiency during the freezing winter months. In contrast, the biological aerated filter (BAF), which has become an efficient alternative for domestic wastewater treatment in off-grid houses, consumes higher energy in the form of continuous aeration. As a result, residents living in rural Alaska pay significantly higher utility costs compared to the national average. This study is designed with two goals, to determine the factors contributing to higher energy consumption for water treatment and distribution and to evaluate energy consumption and BAF performance for wastewater treatment at different aeration regimes. The overall study is based on the following two hypotheses: (i) factors including seasonal changes, geographical regions, population size, and water distribution system (WDS) types influence energy consumption for water treatment and distribution, and (ii) intermittent aeration saves energy without impacting BAF performance for wastewater treatment. After analyzing energy audit data from the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) for 78 rural Alaskan communities, we found that average per capita energy consumption was highest in interior Alaska (1826 kWh), followed by Northern (917 kWh), Southwestern (660 kWh), Gulf Coast (492 kWh), and Southeastern (136 kWh) regions. Among the water distribution system (WDS) types, piped circulating systems showed the highest energy consumption (1100 kWh), followed by washeteria (1000 kWh), closed hauling (800 kWh), individual wells (550 kWh), and piped pressure (300 kWh) systems. In the BAF experiment, we operated a bench-scale BAF at continuous and intermittent aeration regimes (1 hour on/1 hour off, and 2 hours on/2 hours off) using synthetic wastewater and evaluated the treatment efficiency in terms of chemical oxygen demand (COD) removal. The results showed similar COD removal rates for continuous aeration (67.6%), 1 hour on/1 hour off (66.5%), and 2 hours on/2 hours off (63.4%) aeration regimes. Additionally, we found that intermittent aeration regimes consumed significantly less energy than continuous aeration. This research helps to understand energy consumption for water treatment and distribution in rural Alaskan communities and provides a potential energy-saving approach for treating wastewater in Arctic communities.
  • Sovereign disasters: how Alaska's tribes participate in government-to-government relations in a post-disaster environment

    Pennington, John E.; Hum, Richard E.; Carlson, Cameron; Hyslop, Polly; John, Theresa Arevgaq (2023-05)
    Alaska's Tribes face complex challenges after disasters occur when contrasted with Native American Tribes in the continental United States. Federal disaster policies crafted under the Robert T. Stafford Act of 1988 were designed to streamline the coordination of disaster response and recovery for states, tribes, and local governments. These federal policies and their respective programs, though well intended, were conceptually designed to assist tribal governments and organizational structures most resembling those geographically located in the continental United States. They are not broadly applicable to the numerous organizational structures and distinct cultures of Alaska Natives today. In practice, most Alaska Tribes are required to work with and through the State of Alaska to fully receive certain programmatic benefits following federal disasters and, as a result, self-determination and tribal sovereignty are adversely impacted. This research questions the applicability of the Robert T. Stafford Act and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster policies when specifically applied to Alaska Tribes. It explores the role and impacts of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 (ANCSA) on Alaska Natives when federal disasters occur, along with the potential long-term consequences for government-to-government relationships between Alaska Tribes and the United States, specifically FEMA. The findings and conclusions of this research will be instrumental to enhancing relationships between Alaska's Tribes and the United States when disasters occur.
  • An analysis of cataloged December 2020 landslides near Haines, Alaska

    Nelson, Victoria A.; Darrow, Margaret; Stevens, De Anne; Kidanu, Shishay (2023-05)
    From November 30 to December 2, 2020, an atmospheric river event brought high winds, heavy precipitation, and unseasonably warm temperatures to Southeast Alaska. In a 48-hour period, weather stations located in the Haines, Alaska, area recorded record-breaking amounts of precipitation. This resulted in 160 landslides around the community, some of which cut off evacuation routes and access to the community's fuel supply, and caused power outages and evacuations. The largest of the landslides occurred along Beach Road on December 2, 2020; it destroyed or severely damaged four residences and killed two occupants. This report focuses on 58 of the landslides, chosen based on their proximity and impact to road corridors or private property. During field investigations in 2021 and 2022, I observed and described landslides, took in situ strength measurements, and sampled soils that I subsequently tested in the laboratory for engineering index properties such as soil classification, moisture content, and organic content. I mapped landslide extents and evidence of previous landslides using high-resolution lidar data. Using all of these data, I developed a landslide catalog of the 58 landslides, which contains information about location, impact on the road system in 2020, field observations, stratigraphy, laboratory test results, landslide classification, maps, and relevant photographs. Analysis of the collected data suggests that the most significant factor that contributed to the December 2020 landslides was the amount and intensity of precipitation. This precipitation exacerbated the preexisting condition of high slope angles in the surrounding area, and resulted in excess pore pressure in soil types that usually drain well. Anthropogenic factors, such as removal of vegetation and the toe of slopes, also likely played a role in the distribution of the landslides. Recommendations for further study based on results in this report are: 1) to date previous landslides in the study area to determine the frequency of these events; 2) to install additional weather stations in the Haines area for widespread real-time weather monitoring and studying effects of localized high precipitation and/or wind on landslide occurrence; and 3) to conduct additional strength testing on soil and bedrock within the failed areas.
  • Collaborative dialogue for Ellangellerkaq and crosslinguistic awareness in third grade Yugtun English bilingual research centers: a teacher action research study

    Moses, Catherine; Siekmann, Sabine; Webster, Joan Parker; Martelle, Wendy; John, Theresa Arevgaq (2023-05)
    Most bilingual programs are built around a clear separation between the two languages used throughout the school day. However, in bilingual research centers (BRCs), a key component of the Gomez and Gomez Dual Language Enrichment model, students can choose which language to use. This is what sparked my interest, because I wanted to understand more clearly how bilingual students use language to problem-solve language issues. My research question is "How do third-grade students use collaborative dialogue in Yugtun and English in bilingual research centers?" This qualitative teacher action research study took place in a Nelson Island, Toksook Bay third-grade dual language classroom. Out of the twelve students, there were nine Yup'ik-first language speakers and three were English-first. I focused on a bilingual group of two Yup'ik-first language speakers and two English-first speakers. The students ranged from low to high proficiency levels in language. Data collection spanned nine months and included video recordings, audio recordings, student artifacts, and field notes. I used video recordings to transcribe students' use of the Yup'ik and English language. First, I identified language-related episodes (Swain, 2000). Then I employed constructive grounded theory (Charmaz, 2014). I found that students more frequently engaged in collaborative dialogue when producing language, for example when writing about what they know or what they have learned. The students' collaborative dialogue while writing often focused on letter-sound correspondences, especially when those differ between the two languages used in the classroom. In talking about language issues, the students are actively engaged in their own learning. All involved students learn something about the language they or others are using. Crosslinguistic awareness, which examines the similarities and differences between two or more languages, emerged as a significant area of focus both for students and also for their teachers. One key recommendation is that bilingual teachers should collaborate with other teachers to create opportunities for students to engage in collaborative dialogue, which has the potential to build students' crosslinguistic awareness. Monolingual and bilingual teachers alike also need to develop crosslinguistic awareness to better understand their students' language production and support language development in both languages. Teacher action research calls one to further action, and that is the action plan. My action plan is to use data and finding from this study during a 3-day teacher inservice for teachers of bilingual students. During the inservice teachers will be invited into an inquiry process by examining selected language-related episodes from this research in order for them to develop crosslinguistic awareness through carefully listening to and observing the learning process of bilingual students.
  • Kit-rearing in the far North: movement behavior and activity patterns of female Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) during the denning season

    Martinez, Akashia Monique; Kielland, Knut; Breed, Greg; Will, Alexis (2023-05)
    Reproductive ecology research is vital for determining the timing of important life history events and improving our understanding of the space use and behavior of individuals that are rearing offspring. This is particularly relevant for wildlife populations at the northern limit of the boreal forest, where climate change is rapidly affecting the ecosystem at two to four times the rate of mid-latitude regions. In this study, I used fine-scale GPS location data (1 - 4hr fix-rates) collected near Wiseman, Alaska over the summers of 2018 and 2019 to analyze the movements of 10 female Canada lynx during their offspring-rearing periods. I identified differences in behavior across four periods of kit development: pre-denning, nursing, prey-provisioning, and post-denning. In this high-latitude study site (~67°N), parturition occurred approximately three weeks later in the season compared to lynx in the southern portion of their range (~47°N). Home range areas of females were greatly reduced following parturition, while daily travel distances were mostly unchanged. Additionally, individual females appeared to diverge from each other in the strategies they employed to meet the energetic needs of themselves and their kits. These results indicate that latitudinal differences play a role in affecting the timing of mating, gestation, and birth in Canada lynx. In addition, these observed changes in maternal movement behavior across the periods of kit development suggest that female lynx face the unique challenge of restricting their space use to a small radius around the den site while kits are young (i.e., < 2 months old). I found evidence that females likely optimize their hunting strategies in a variety of ways to address this challenge and find sufficient prey for themselves and their offspring. However, these strategies rely on access to abundant prey populations in close proximity to denning habitat, which may be negatively impacted by climate change and the development of human infrastructure in this region.
  • Seasonal changes in the movement rates and activity patterns of Canada lynx

    Kynoch, Matthew; Williams, Cory; Kielland, Knut; Breed, Greg (2023-05)
    An animal's temporal niche, or when it is active during the 24-hour day, is a fundamental aspect of its overall niche and ecology. Animals are confined to a temporal niche to maximize energetic gains while avoiding agonistic encounters with predators or intraguild competitors. An animal's temporal niche can be influenced by a variety of biotic and abiotic factors, and the temporal niche of predators is often established through a careful balance of prey behavior and the predator's physiological adaptations. This study examined the seasonal change of patterns of activity in Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) in Northern Alaska using both GPS transmitters and triaxial accelerometers. The distance between consecutive GPS locations, or step length, is a common metric used to assess how movement rates vary across space and time and is often used to examine activity patterns of free ranging terrestrial animals. However, activity can only be examined at a high resolution for a short period of time, as fix rate inversely affects battery life of the GPS transmitter. Further, animal activity includes a range of behaviors that are not always discernable by spatial displacement alone (e.g., grooming, eating, some hunting behaviors), thus GPS transmitters can sometimes lead to underestimation of activity. Triaxial accelerometers can be used in addition to GPS transmitters to record activity in the presence or absence of spatial displacement, therefore theoretically providing a more accurate index of activity of free ranging animals. Both GPS and accelerometers separately indicated that lynx were most active near twilight and maintained a bimodal crepuscular-like activity pattern in spring and fall, but they switched to a unimodal pattern of activity during mid-day in winter. Hourly GPS data alone was insufficient in detecting diel activity patterns in 6 of 12 instances. We also found that step length and vectorial dynamic body acceleration (VeDBA), an index of body acceleration, were correlated in a positive curvilinear fashion in all individuals. However, there were times when step length was disproportionately lower than acceleration. These intervals of high activity, but short spatial displacements, could be indicative of hunting in a patch of habitat. Consistent with this interpretation, animals that exhibited this dichotomy had an increased likelihood of rest in the next hour. We also found that mean VeDBA and mean step length were not correlated at a seasonal scale, and mean step length and other GPS derived metrics were much more variable between individuals than VeDBA. We conclude that there are multiple ways accelerometers can provide additional information that can supplement GPS location data to provide a more complete picture of animal activity and behavior, including using the relationship of acceleration and spatial displacement data to shed light on space use patterns that may not be apparent using GPS data alone.
  • Lagrangian surface drifter analyses from observations and numerical modeling in the subpolar North Atlantic

    Klenz, Thilo; Simmons, Harper L.; Lilly, Jonathan M.; Danielson, Seth; Johnson, Mark A.; Hennon, Gwenn (2023-05)
    Lagrangian surface drifters are powerful tools to study the dynamics of the ocean across a variety of spatial and temporal scales, ranging from regional to global and monthly to climatological, respectively. This dissertation investigates the utility of Lagrangian surface drifters for estimating the mechanical input of energy into the ocean by the atmosphere, and for gathering information about the underlying dynamics driving oceanic variability. The basis for the analysis was a large dataset of 88 surface drifters deployed in the subpolar North Atlantic between 2018 and 2019. In addition, numerical drifters from both idealized and realistic ocean models were used to supplement the observations. The study region is characterized by pronounced mesoscale eddy activity and, due to its proximity to the North Atlantic storm track, strong atmospheric storms causing energetic near-inertial oscillations. It is hence well-suited for the analyses presented here. We introduced a novel surface drifter instrument, the Minimet, that measures sea surface wind in situ along the drifter track. Estimates of in situ Minimet wind power input were found to be over 40% higher than those using a reanalysis wind product. This discrepancy was likely due to Minimets accurately capturing strong high-frequency wind events that were misrepresented in the reanalysis product, highlighting the utility of the Minimets for both wind power input calculations and the important validation of gridded wind products. We currently lack a basic understanding of the Lagrangian velocity frequency spectrum and how it relates to the underlying dynamics. We therefore investigated the Lagrangian spectral shape and found significant variability linked to eddy kinetic energy. Lastly, we established a direct link between the Lagrangian velocity frequency spectrum and Eulerian kinetic energy wavenumber spectrum. This link had not previously been made from single particles and together with a better understanding of the Lagrangian frequency spectrum furthers our ability to efficiently utilize Lagrangian data.
  • Effects of young-growth management on Sitka black-tailed deer in southeast Alaska

    Kellam, Cade W.; Brinkman, Todd; Hollingsworth, Teresa; Kielland, Knut (2023-05)
    Commercial logging was the dominant industry in southeast Alaska during the second half of the twentieth century. Logging practices have left a landscape legacy of regenerative forest types such as clearcuts and second growth. Second-growth forest occurs about 20-30 years after a clearcut and is relatively unproductive compared to other forest types. To enhance productivity, second-growth is often thinned to a lower density of standing timber, this process is referred to as pre-commercial thinning (hereafter, thinning). Sitka black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus sitkensis) are an important cultural and subsistence resource across southeast Alaska. How thinned forests affect deer is not well known. To better understand how forest management is affecting local populations of deer in southeast Alaska we examined how thinning treatments impact deer browse intensity and snow accumulation on the forest floor. In this thesis, we presented two studies that examine the effects of thinning on deer habitat quality and deer access to forage. In the first study of this thesis, we quantified browse intensity in recently thinned (≤4 years post thinning) and adjacent old-growth forests. We also explored the immediate effects of thinning and slash (felled trees left on the forest floor) on forage availability. We performed a pairwise comparison of browse intensity between thinned and adjacent old-growth forests and modeled the effects of thinned forest characteristics on browse intensity. In the second study of this thesis, we quantified maximum snow depth in thinned, unthinned second-growth, old-growth and unforested (control) habitat types. Forest structure and composition affected how snow accumulates on the ground. Snow can impede the movement of ungulates species, such as deer, and reduce available forage. We evaluated how different forest types accumulated snow in southeast Alaska to better understand the implications on winter habitat quality for Sitka black-tailed deer. To quantify browse intensity in thinned and adjacent old-growth forests, we conducted browse surveys in recently thinned stands (2017 to 2021) and adjacent middle to high volume old-growth forests. We established 50m transects and surveyed plots every five meters to quantify browse of Vaccinium sp. (blueberry and huckleberry), a preferred deer forage species. In the second study, we measured snow depths throughout thinned, unthinned, old-growth and unforested sites to identify if these forest types accumulate snow differently. We also measured forest structure variables to use as predictors when modeling maximum snow depth. Transects were 70 meters long, and snow depth and forest structure data were collected every five meters. Snow depths were measured four to six times throughout the winter. The maximum depth of each transect point was recorded and paired with the forest structure variables. For both studies, we used nonparametric tests and generalized linear mixed models to understand the interactions between forest types and their maximum snow depths or percent of a Vaccinium sp. plant browsed. From the first study, we concluded that browse intensity was significantly different in thinned and oldgrowth forests (P<0.01). We learned that thinned stands with more slash reduce browse intensity. Slash (vertical obstruction) volume and time since thinning (metrics of slash decay) best explained percent of a plant browsed. From or second study, we found that thinned forests accumulated the same amount of snow on the forest floor as unforested sites. Moreover, old-growth and unthinned sites accumulated snow on the forest floor comparably during a relatively normal snow load year. Our findings regarding browse intensity showed that thinned forests have a delayed benefit to deer because of slash abundance. Our observations regarding snow accumulation showed that thinned forests have little value to deer in a winter with deep snow accumulation. Managers can use this information to better understand the extent of forage available to deer in recently thinned forest habitat. Our findings also demonstrated that the implementation of thinning treatments that minimize slash volume and accelerate decomposition will enhance benefits for deer.
  • Variability of hydrogeochemistry and chemical weathering regimes in high latitude glacierized coastal catchments

    Jenckes, Jordan R.; Munk, Lee Ann; McCarthy, Paul; Klein, Eric; Boutt, David; Trainor, Thomas (2023-05)
    Accelerated modifications to the hydrology, driven by global climate change, will alter the timing and amount of freshwater discharged from coastal catchments to the intertidal and nearshore habitats of the Gulf of Alaska. Coastal glacierized catchments are important sources of both inorganic and organic matter to the nearshore ecosystem. The Gulf of Alaska is an ecologically diverse ecosystem, that supports commercial, mariculture, and subsistence lifestyles. However, the coastal catchments of the Gulf of Alaska are relatively understudied with respect to solute generation, seasonal cycles of major cations and anions, and chemical weathering regimes. To close the knowledge gap, the present study utilizes a unique set of stream samples compiled from field-based activities and the USGS NWIS from stream sites across the Gulf of Alaska watershed. First, we find that watershed characteristics such as slope, elevation and relief drive the variation in concentration-discharge relationships, while glacier coverage controls solute yields. Second, though glaciers control overall solute yields, the climate dictates the timing of seasonal solute yields. Additionally, we find across the Gulf of Alaska lithology and climate are important controls on major cation and anion concentrations. Finally, we implement a solute mass balance model to estimate fractional contributions to solute flux from silicate, carbonate and precipitation. We find that carbonate weathering is the dominant source of weathering derived solutes, however there are several streams across the Gulf of Alaska in which silicate weathering is an important source of solutes. Overall, the results of this work illustrate the variability in stream chemistry across the Gulf of Alaska, and changing climate regimes will alter the fluxes of solutes and nutrients in the future.
  • Communicating remote sensing surveys of aufeis in northeast Alaska with land managers

    Dann, Julian; Bolton, W. Robert; Zwieback, Simon; Leonard, Paul; Timm, Kristin (2023-05)
    With an area of over 19 million acres, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is situated in the northeastern region of Alaska and stands as the largest federally protected refuge in the United States. The region supports a variety of wildlife and plants and is culturally significant to the indigenous populations of nearby Iñupiat and Gwich'in villages who rely on the land and wildlife for their way of life. The discovery of oil near this region in 1968, prompted local, state, and federal interest in understanding the oil and gas potential of the region. Oil and gas surveys in the 1980s estimated that a portion of the Arctic Coastal Plain, known as the "1002 Area", could contain more than seven trillion barrels of recoverable oil, making it one of the largest deposits in the world. In 2017, Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act which mandated lease sales and the development of an environmental impact statement (EIS) to understand the potential impacts of an oil and gas program within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The purpose of this research is to effectively communicate to resource managers about spatial and temporal changes in aufeis distribution in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Aufeis fields are important features of rivers and streams in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge that often form downstream from perennial groundwater springs. Over the course of a winter, these fields of ice can grow to be tens of kilometers long, kilometers wide, and up to ten meters thick. Perennial springs and aufeis play a crucial role in maintaining the hydrologic system during winter by contributing liquid water, which not only supports fish habitat but also ensures a consistent water supply during summer, thus enhancing connectivity along aquatic migratory corridors. At locations identified by the US Fish and Wildlife Service as perennial groundwater springs or known fish habitat, a remote sensing analysis of Landsat data was performed. Landsat imagery was analyzed during the melt season (May 14th - August 15th) between 1985 and 2021 to determine seasonal and interannual changes to the overall aufeis extent and the melt rate of aufeis. Based on the available imagery, aufeis between 2010 and 2021 appears to be melting at a significantly faster rate than between 1985 and 2009. An ArcGIS StoryMap was developed to effectively communicate this analysis by allowing users to interact directly with geospatial data. In presenting information in this format, scientific information is effectively communicated to resource managers to help inform their decision making process in a way that is relevant to known problems, is credible by conforming to scientific standards of rigor, and is legitimate by presenting information in an unbiased manner.

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