Weekly Highlights for 7-19-2012
I. Departmental/Bureau News
A. Upcoming Events
No Upcoming Events highlights for this week
USGS Alaska Science Center scientists, together with international authors, contributed to the article "Polar and brown bear genomes reveal ancient admixture and demographic footprints of past climate change", scheduled for a July 23 release online in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research presents the most comprehensive analysis of polar bear DNA to date and suggests that polar bears evolved as a distinct species as many as 4-5 million years ago, rather than on the much earlier timeline suggested by previous studies. The analysis also revealed signatures of repeated hybridization with brown bears. The study used state-of-the-art high throughput sequencing methods similar to methods that facilitated the completion of the Human Genome Project, and is one of the first of its kind for a wildlife species. A major conclusion of the paper is that effective population size of polar bears increased with cooler climate periods and decreased in warmer periods. USGS scientists, and the USGS Office of Communications and Publishing, have worked with the lead authors' institutions on outreach related to this publication; the USGS is not issuing a news release but has participated in the formulation of a press release being issued by the University of Buffalo and Penn State University.
Anchorage, AK, (907) 786-7188
USGS scientists Dave Meyer and Tina Neal represented USGS on a teleconference meeting of the SHMAC on July 19. These meetings are organized and run by the Alaska State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. They occur frequently throughout the year and they serve to bring together mitigation professionals from Federal, State, and local entities to coordinate and share information about ongoing Alaska hazards, specific hazard responses, and mitigation activities and plans. This week's call will cover a review of the hazard mitigation grand program for federally declared disasters, a review of the existing State Hazard Mitigation Plan and other State mitigation programs including pre-disaster mitigation grants, local planning, and earthquake and tsunami mitigation programs.
Anchorage, AK, (907) 786-7141
USGS Alaska Science Center scientists Caroline Van Hemert, and Colleen Handel along with Diane O'Brien (University of Alaska, Fairbanks), are authors of a soon to be published article in The Auk regarding beak deformities in Black-capped Chickadees and other resident avian species in Alaska. These beak deformities termed "avian keratin disorder" are displayed as an overgrowth of the upper beak, lower beak, or both, resulting in overbite, underbite, or sometimes beak crossing. Despite ongoing research the cause of this problem is currently unknown. Nutritional and behavioral consequences of dietary shifts could contribute to high mortality rates and compromised fitness associated with beak deformities in chickadees. Changes in dietary composition have important implications for avian health and nutrition, especially given the high prevalence of this disorder in multiple species and across a growing geographic area. Therefore researchers investigated the potential association between diet and beak deformities and their results suggest that they should reduce emphasis on anthropogenic food sources as likely causative factors and that other causes may be more likely. Epidemiological and demographic analyses will be important components in future efforts to identify the cause and consequences of this widespread problem in wild birds. For more information on this disease visit http://alaska.usgs.gov/science/biology/landbirds/beak_deformity/index.html.
Van Hemert, C., C. M. Handel, and D. M. O'Brien. 2012. Stable isotopes identify dietary changes associated with beak deformities in Black-capped Chickadees (Poecile atricapillus). The Auk 129 (3): 1-7
Anchorage, AK, (907) 786-7181
USGS Alaska Science Center Fish Biologist Christian Zimmerman has a paper accepted for publication in the Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management titled, "A simple method of in situ monitoring of water temperature in substrates used by spawning salmonids." The paper describes a novel method for deploying electronic data loggers in gravels used by spawning salmonids that causes minimal disturbance to the natural flow paths within the gravels. Temperature is a critical variable controlling the developmental timing of salmon and trout eggs.
Zimmerman CE, Finn JE. 2012. A simple method for in situ monitoring of water temperature in substrates used by spawning salmonids. Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management 3(2):xx–xx; e1944-687X; doi:10.3996/032012-JFWM-025
Anchorage, AK, (907) 786-7071
Florence Weber, former emeritus with the USGS Alaska Science Center (ASC), and USGS research geologist Frederic Wilson (ASC) are authors of this map which covers the Eagle 1:250,000-scale quadrangle in the northeastern part of the Yukon-Tanana Upland in Alaska. It shows the extent of five major glacial advances, former glacial lakes, and present fragmented terrace deposits related to the advances. The Yukon-Tanana Upland is an area of about 116,550 km2 between the Yukon and Tanana Rivers in east-central Alaska that extends into the western part of the Yukon Territory of Canada. Traditionally, the Yukon-Tanana Upland was thought to be a part of unglaciated central Alaska, however, a rather long history of localized alpine glaciation during Pleistocene and possibly Tertiary time can be shown. Deposits of five of the glacial episodes can be found in the Eagle quadrangle. This report is an outcome of studies conducted in conjunction with bedrock mapping intended for mineral resource assessment and is available on line at http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2012/1138/.
Weber, F.R., and Wilson, F.H., 2012, Map showing extent of glaciation in the Eagle quadrangle, east-central Alaska: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2012–1138, scale 1:250,000. (Available at http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2012/1138/)
Anchorage, AK, (907) 786-7448
II. Press Inquiries/Media
No Press Inquiries highlights for this week