The United States Geological Survey neatly summarized the spill: “On 24 March 1989, the oil tanker ‘Exxon Valdez’ spilled 260,000 barrels of crude oil in Prince William Sound, Alaska. Oil eventually drifted over  coastal and offshore waters occupied by approximately one million marine birds.” One million marine birds relying on habitat in Prince William […]
YUKON FLATS — Out here, in a smooth plain stretching over Alaska’s wrinkled face, water and tree and mud dissolve to fuzz at each horizon. No hills or bumps. An ocean of sky. An observer once said Yukon Flats looks like a place where God forgot to put something. Garrett Jones and I are camped […]
UAF FARM FIELDS — Gliding in with their wings folded like paper airplanes, nine Canada geese drop their paddle feet and prepare to land in a corner of this cleared plain. On this early fall day, the birds could use an air traffic controller. Their landing zone of barley stalks is clogged with the rusty […]
“Doing science in the Delta is more than just coming up with interesting questions and implementing them. It also requires a lot of on-the-ground work and pre-season preparation in order to be out here for as long as we are.” A five month field season in remote Alaska is no deterrent to Ryan Choi. “I […]
“Typically when a bird gets any ice on their body it’s game over.” But not for rock sandpipers overwintering on the mudflats of Cook Inlet, Alaska. Watch new videos about rock sandpipers on FrontierScientists.com featuring science about avian puffballs surviving and thriving despite enduring ice on feathers and feet. Rock sandpipers in Alaska In Cook […]
Whether a species thrives or flags can have resounding consequences. When we think of our changing world, we imagine an ecosystem occupied by organisms which are interlinked.
Jonathan Perez stands in a remote part of Alaska’s North Slope while White-Crowned Sparrows sing from surrounding shrubs and a Jaeger flies overhead, calling. Perez is listening to the bird calls, recording what species sound out and how many individuals are singing. Next to him, an automated device is attempting to do the same.
An albatross soaring over the wide open ocean doesn’t just rely on chance sightings of prey; it actually follows its nose. Dimethyl sulfide (DMS) is a biological sulfur compound that can result from the activity of microorganisms called phytoplankton. Not only does airborne DMS provide a wind-map for foraging seabirds, it also also aids in […]
Even Wacky Weather doesn’t stop bird migration to Alaska. Scientists on the north side of the Brooks Range at Toolik Field Station find the birds which made it over the mountains have located their nests, indicating procreation has begun.
Vacuuming at home isn’t too edifying. How about vacuuming the Alaska tundra to snag a bag full of bugs? That’s an entirely different story. Ashley Asmus, graduate research assistant at the University of Texas at Arlington, is using a huge reverse leaf blower to collect the bugs she’ll study.
On the tundra a wire walk-in trap has been placed over seed scattered atop icy Alaskan ground. A Longspur alights nearby. It twists its head to eye the seed, hops inside then briefly flaps – unsettled by the trap door closing behind it. The Longspur settles and eyes the ground again, beginning to peck. PhD student Jesse Krause, a researcher […]
The Arctic is blanketed in snow for 9 to 10 months of the year. Then in May or June, with the Sun shining long overhead, snow melt comes sudden. Mathew Sturm, professor of Geophysics, University of Alaska, Geophysics Institute says the world of the Arctic can go from “White to dark in a space of […]
Laura Nielsen for Frontier Scientists – Jason Dobkowski stands on the shores of Wolverine Lake. His research site is located in the North Slope of Alaska, nestled near the remote foothills of the Brooks Range. “I’m here studying permafrost thaw slump which is depositing silt and material into the lake behind me. And that material, […]
Imagine yourself on a Colorado mountain slope. Bumblebees buzz happily around dwarf bluebell blossoms, and the spring sun is bright. Except not all is well. The flowers bloom a good seven hundred feet upslope of where they grew five years ago, forcing bees ever higher. Bright petal colors are faded: the flowers are past their […]
Laura Nielsen for Frontier Scientists The Bering Sea region hosts over 90% of seabirds breeding in the continental United States. Most of those birds are hardy migrators, breeding on Alaska’s coast in the warm season and then departing south, chased away by the cold weather. One group which remains is Guillemots, a type of seabird […]
Ned Rozell for UAFGI – HALL ISLAND — On this windy, misty August day, there are perhaps one million birds clinging to the cliffs that buttress this Bering Sea island. These seabirds, crazy-eyed and with bodies both sleek and clumsy, need solid ground for just a few months to hold their eggs. When their summer […]
In Alan Weisman’s book, The World Without Us, the author ponders “a world from which we all suddenly vanished. Tomorrow.” In last week’s column, a few experts discussed the fate of Alaska structures if Alaskans were to disappear. This week, people who study Alaska’s wildlife donate some thought to the subject. Alaska’s lack of people […]
After flying northward from Chile, a whimbrel landed in late March in an alfalfa field near Mexicali, Mexico. The handsome shorebird with a long curved beak left its wintering ground in South America one week earlier and flew more than 5,000 miles. Nonstop. In one of the great migrations happening all over the world right […]
LLiz O’Connell for Frontier Scientists – Early on Bob Gill, Research Wildlife Biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), thought Bar-tailed Godwits’ journey from Alaska to New Zealand was a non-stop flight. Faced with skepticism from his colleagues, but armed with satellite technology, Gill tagged a female Godwit he named E-7. By tracking E-7 in […]
Matthew Sexson and Paul Laustsen for USGS – ANCHORAGE — On its way to deliver emergency fuel to Nome, Alaska, the Russian tanker Renda will move through an area used by wintering spectacled eiders, a federally threatened sea duck. But, to protect the ducks and their wintering habitat, resource managers from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and navigators from the U.S. Coast Guard are […]