Weekly Highlights for 7-6-2012
I. Departmental/Bureau News
A. Upcoming Events
No Upcoming Events highlights for this week
On July 16 and 30th USGS Alaska Science Center Outreach Coordinator Yvette Gillies will conduct a bear education safety clinic and provide handouts and a list of educational resources for first year teachers participation in The Alaska Humanities Forum Rose Urban Rural Exchange C3 Project. The clinic will provide information on the three species of bears in Alaska, their habitat, population estimates, biology, behavior, and how to understand and mitigate risks in bear country. The educational resources will include links to Alaskan Federal and State research projects, educational materials on wildlife and contact information from the U. S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and ARLIS (Alaska Resources Library Information Service). The C3 Project (Creating Cultural Competence of Rural Early Career Teachers) provides a cross-cultural immersion experience within the rural settings of the Lower Kuskokwim and Northwest Arctic borough school districts, bringing together youth and elders and other culture bearers. For more information on the program visit: http://www.akhf.org/programs/.
Anchorage, AK, (907) 786-7039
Caribou are an important indicator species due to their sensitivity to natural and anthropogenic disturbances and their value as a subsistence resource for rural communities. Consequently, resource management agencies in North America and Eurasia are tasked with monitoring the status and trends of caribou populations. Non-invasive assessments of nutritional condition in late winter could provide resource managers with cost effective and powerful metrics to monitor large herbivores that range across diverse environmental and physiographic gradients. USGS Alaska Science Center wildlife biologist Dave Gustine is the lead author of a new study recently published in the Journal of Mammalogy that provided the first data set linking several isotopes of nitrogen (diet, urinary urea, and body) with characteristics of foraging sites as well as the first applications of 2 non-invasive isotopic indices to assess protein status of caribou in Alaska and western Canada. Despite the vast potential in using nitrogen isotopes as a non-invasive tool for evaluating protein status in northern ungulates, the authors identified several analytical and sampling challenges that must be addressed before managers incorporate isotopic approaches into large-scale monitoring programs for ungulates.
Gustine, D. D., P. S. Barboza, L. G. Adams, J. P. Lawler, S. Arthur, K. L. Parker, and B. Shults. 2012. Diversity of nitrogen isotopes and correlates of protein status in caribou: implications for monitoring northern ungulates. Journal of Mammalogy, 93(3): 778-790
Anchorage, AK, (907) 786-7435
During summer 2012, the USGS Alaska Science Center will initiate a 5-year study funded by the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council to design and implement a long-term (20 yr) assessment of forage fish populations in Prince William Sound (PWS). Despite a limited recovery of marine wildlife populations following the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, and evidence of natural background changes in forage fish abundance in the Gulf of Alaska, research and monitoring of ecologically important forage species such as Pacific sand lance, capelin, eulachon and krill in PWS has been limited. Time series data needed to assess population status and trends for most forage species are lacking. USGS scientists have designed a sampling protocol to collect new data on forage fish in PWS, starting in July 2012, with objectives to: 1) Assess changes in distribution and abundance of capelin, sand lance, eulachon, krill and other forage species over time, 2) Detect changes in body condition and age structure of forage populations, and 3) Detect changes in biotic and abiotic features of the marine environment that may influence forage populations over time. USGS is collaborating with scientists from the NOAA Auke Bay Lab and the Prince William Sound Science Center.
Juneau, AK, (907) 364-1593
II. Press Inquiries/Media
On June 29, USGS Alaska Science Center biologist Lily Peacock spoke with LA Times correspondent, Kim Murphy, about polar bear harvesting in Canada, in front of a potential proposal to uplist the polar bear to Appendix I of CITES.
Anchorage, AK, (907) 786-7068
In the summer 2012 issue of The Wildlife Professional, State of Wildlife, The Wildlife Society described the observations by USGS personnel of alopecia (abnormal fur loss) in wild polar bears. During spring 2012, 82 polar bears were captured by USGS scientists on the sea ice of the southern Beaufort Sea between Barrow and the Canada border. Of those, 23 bears had atypical fur loss on their necks, muzzles and ears. Efforts are underway for the USGS to identify the causative agent of the fur loss. For more information visit the USGS Newsroom at: http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=3162.
Anchorage, AK, (907) 786-7039