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19 March 2021

Why did the vole climb the tree?

By Ned Rozell A few years ago, Link Olson wanted students in his mammalogy class to see one of the neatest little creatures in Alaska, the northern flying squirrel. He baited a few live traps with peanut butter rolled in oats and placed them in spruce trees. When he returned the next day, he found no flying squirrels. Instead, peering back at him were the beady eyes of the mice …


29 January 2021

Bowhead whales: A recent success story

Bowhead whales are true northern creatures, swimming only in cold oceans off Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Svalbard and Russia. These bus-size whales have the largest mouths in the animal kingdom, can live for 200 years and can go without eating for more than a year due to their remarkable fat reserves. Bowheads are also a rare wildlife rebound story, with the population north and west of Alaska now numbering more than 16,000. That’s up from the 1,000 or so animals Yankee whalers left behind in bloody waters at the turn of the last century.


2 November 2020

Steller sea lions and mercury

Within their bulbous bodies, Steller sea lions of the western Aleutian Islands seem to carry more mercury than sea lions closer to mainland Alaska. By looking at tiny bits of fish and squid, a graduate student is trying to find out where that mercury is coming from.


7 August 2020

Bears alert scientists to secret salmon streams

Right now, on the brushy tundra of northern Alaska, grizzly bears are gathering at quiet streams and rivers, attracted by the largest calorie reward they can find — spawning salmon. Until recently, scientists did not know salmon swam up some of these waterways, nor that grizzlies were fattening up on them before entering hibernation.


3 February 2020

Keeping the carbon in Alaska forests

Carly Phillips and her colleagues have been running the numbers on the acreage and CO2 emissions of Alaska forests that might be spared with more aggressive firefighting. She figured if Alaska’s firefighting budget were quadrupled, there could be a 60 percent reduction in acreage burned each year. “That’s similar to nearly 7 million cars removed from the road,” she said.


21 October 2019

Living dead scattered across Alaska landscape

Their bodies cooling with the October air, wood frogs are now snug in leafy blankets all over Alaska. Down there inside those thumb-size frogs, even smaller creatures are hitching a ride. These tiny parasites have the power to make frogs develop up to a dozen extra legs, or no legs at all.


19 August 2019

When biologists stocked Alaska with wolves

Alaska had been a state for one year in 1960 when its department of fish and game conducted a wolf-planting experiment on Coronation Island in southeast Alaska. At the time, the remote 45-square-mile island exposed to the open Pacific had a high density of blacktailed deer and no wolves.


3 April 2019

Budding scientists communicate river science to elected officials in New Mexico

Last week, two 6th grade scientists and one 12th grade scientist took a trip to downtown Albuquerque to share the story of ongoing Rio Grande field science with city councilors and county commissioners….and, wow, did these students do a tremendous job!


8 March 2019

Big Pagoda Pools — Microbial Mysteries video update

This spectacular underwater volcano was just explored for the first time by scientists aboard the R/V Falkor. 2000 meters below the surface of the ocean, the “Big Pagoda” hydrothermal vent is massive: 30m tall and 23m wide.


15 November 2018

Turtle Trapping at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

While most students were enjoying an extended weekend in the middle of October, a dedicated crew of Bosque School and University of New Mexico (UNM) scholars spent four days trapping and taking genetic samples of freshwater turtles


12 November 2018

Better Data, Bigger Challenges

The current expedition onboard Falkor has two simultaneous objectives: to develop new ways to map and image the seafloor, and to make those maps available as quickly as possible so researchers can use the maps to support the science studies being conducted at sea.


5 November 2018

Management Strategies of a Senescing Rio Grande Cottonwood Bosque

The Rio Grande’s bosque, as we have come to know it across our lifetimes, is an ecological anomaly. The cottonwood gallery forest that stretches several hundred miles between the banks of the Rio Grande and its adjacent irrigation ditches is, generally speaking, comprised mostly of the same age class of trees.


2 November 2018

Exploring the hydrothermal vents of the Pescadero Basin

New vents are always an exciting find, but this new Auka vent field boasts a particularly intriguing combination of carbonate chimneys, hydrothermal petroleum, diverse vent fauna, and a deep ocean setting (>3500 meters). We are embarking on a cruise to investigate these unique vents, as well as to explore the still-mysterious surrounding area. (Pssst – We think there might be even more vents!)


29 October 2018

When moths turn away moose

While most of Alaska has not felt too wintery yet, 175,000 moose have noticed a change. As biologist Tom Seaton pointed out in last week’s column, moose are now seeking out what amounts to a large dog-food sack of twigs each day. There are no more pond greens to slurp or succulent leaves to strip from stems.


22 June 2018

Warming in the north continues as predicted

Just outside my window here at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, workers are drilling into the asphalt of a parking lot using a truck-mounted rig. They twist a hollow bit 25 feet into the ground and pull up hard, clear evidence of why the blacktop is sinking.


5 June 2018

Exploring Fronts with Multiple Robots: The Night Cast

“Have you ever done a XBT cast?” John Fulmer asks. I have not, but I am excited to learn about another device used for deep-water oceanography.


2 May 2018

Bosque del Apache – BEMP’s 33rd BEMP site!

It was muddy… really, really, muddy. The cold February nights didn’t have much of a chance against the quick warming sunshine that had us in t-shirts before lunch.


24 April 2018

Voyage to the White Shark Cafe: The Wild West

It might seem strange traveling to a food-limited environment to study the lives of massive apex predators such as white sharks, but it was the sharks themselves who led the way.


6 April 2018

Alaska creatures without us

“The bottom line is salmon — and the marine, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems that support them — would be better off without us.”


9 February 2018

Where are the Yukon chinooks headed?

“It’s more than just a fish, it’s a culture,” Brown said to the Fairbanks crowd, many of them Alaska Natives.