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Weekly Highlights for 1-24-2013

Departmental/Bureau News

USGS Participates in Women of Science and Technology Day
USGS Alaska Science Center (ASC) and Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) scientists will participate in the 21st annual Women of Science and Technology Day in Anchorage, AK on February 2. The event is designed for girls in grades K8 to attend workshops in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and give them a chance to meet women who have careers in science and are passionate about science. Kirsten Barrett's (ASC) activity on wildfires in the boreal forest will address how variations in fire severity affect re-growth post-fire. The children, ranging from kindergarten to third grade will act out two scenarios of a severe and a light burn, and how these differences affect succession. The unit encourages children to think about the impact of vegetation changes on wildlife through interactive play and post-activity show and tell and discussion. Kim Kloecker (ASC) will teach students how sea otters help scientists investigate the health of the nearshore ecosystem through a mock sea otter capture and data collection activity and volcanologist Tina Neal (AVO) will lead workshops exploring the science of volcanoes and earthquakes and how scientists study these phenomena. The hands-on activities will encourage students to use their senses to help them understand how a volcano works.
Contact: Yvette Gillies Anchorage, AK, (907) 786-7039

USGS Cosponsors Workshop on the Future of Pacific Northwest Seagrasses in a Changing Climate
Seagrasses provide critical habitat for fish, birds, and invertebrates and serve as indicators of nearshore ecosystem health. On January 13-25, USGS Alaska Science Center Biologist David Ward will attend a workshop on the Future of Pacific Northwest Seagrasses in a Changing Climate held in Friday Harbor, WA. The intent of the workshop is to review and synthesize current knowledge and to identify critical needs, issues, and data gaps about climate change impacts on seagrasses and seagrass restoration and research with the goal of producing journal articles that will guide future research of seagrasses in the Pacific Northwest. The workshop is cosponsored by USGS, Washington Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Washington Sea Grant and will be attended by scientists and resource managers from universities, the Northwest Indian College, and state and federal agencies.
Contact: David Ward Anchorage, AK, (907) 786-7097

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Far-Field Extension During Continental Collision
USGS Alaska Science Center research geologist Richard Lease co-authored a paper in the journal Tectonophysics. The paper presents work done while Lease was at the University of Tuebingen, Germany. Continental collision is typified by the growth of contractional mountain ranges, but the far-field effects of collision include protracted extension. Active extension dominates Central China, but when this extension began and its relation to Tibetan Plateau growth is poorly constrained. This paper establishes the timing, magnitude, and duration of Cenozoic extension along the most prominent structure in Central China—the Weihe graben—using low-temperature thermochronology. Extension commenced in the Eocene and was driven by initial India-Asia collision a few thousand kilometers away. A phase of rapid extension in the Late Miocene-Recent, on the other hand, reflects changing kinematics associated with the outward and upward growth of the Tibetan Plateau. You may view the paper at:

Liu, J., Zhang, P., Lease, R.O., Zheng, D., Wan, J., Wang, W., Zhang, H., 2013, Eocene onset and late Miocene acceleration of Cenozoic intracontinental extension in the North Qinling range—Weihe graben: Insights from apatite fission track thermochronology, Tectonophysics, v. 584, p. 281-296, doi: 10.1016/j.tecto.2012.01.025
Contact: Richard Lease Anchorage, AK, (907) 786-7169

Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna—Arctic Freshwater Biodiversity Monitoring Plan
Steven Frenzel (USGS), Benjamin Jones (USGS), and Matthew Whitman (BLM) contributed to a recent publication by the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF), a working group of the Arctic Council. This document develops an Arctic Freshwater Biodiversity Monitoring Plan (The Freshwater Plan) that details the rationale and framework for improvements related to the monitoring of freshwaters of the circumpolar Arctic, including ponds, lakes, their tributaries and associated wetlands, as well as rivers, their tributaries and associated wetlands. The monitoring framework aims to facilitate circumpolar assessments by providing Arctic countries with a structure and a set of guidelines for initiating and developing monitoring activities that employ common approaches and indicators. The Freshwater Plan is part of the Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program (CBMP) of the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) that is working with partners to harmonize and enhance long-term Arctic biodiversity monitoring efforts in order to facilitate more rapid detection, communication and response to significant trends and pressures. The Plan can be found online at this website:

J.M. Culp, W. Goedkoop, J. Lento, K.S. Christoffersen, S. Frenzel, G. Guðbergsson, P. Liljaniemi, S. Sandøy, M. Svoboda, J. Brittain, J. Hammar, D. Jacobsen, B. Jones, C. Juillet, M. Kahlert, K. Kidd, E. Luiker, J. Olafsson, M. Power, M. Rautio, A. Ritcey, R. Striegl, M. Svenning, J. Sweetman, M. Whitman. 2012. The Arctic Freshwater Biodiversity Monitoring Plan. CAFF International Secretariat, CAFF Monitoring Series Report Nr. 7. CAFF International Secretariat. Akureyri, Iceland. ISBN 978-9935-431-19-6.
Contact: Steven Frenzel Anchorage, AK, (907) 786-7107

Research by New USGS Scientist: Nest Site Selection by Greater Prairie-Chickens
Earlier this year, Lance McNew joined the USGS Alaska Science Center as a Research Wildlife Biologist and is working with Dr. Colleen Handel on bird and habitat research on the Seward Peninsula of Alaska as part of the USGS Changing Arctic Ecosystem initiative. Prior to coming to Alaska, Dr. McNew conducted his PhD research at Kansas State University (KSU) on population demography, space use, and effects of rangeland management and other human land use on declining populations of Greater Prairie-chickens in Kansas. In the latest publication by Dr. McNew and colleagues at KSU, recently published in the Journal of Wildlife Management, the authors present the first application of a geographically weighted logistic regression to habitat selection by a wildlife species. The authors found that 1) nest sites were associated with habitat conditions at multiple spatial scales, 2) habitat associations across spatial scales were correlated, and 3) habitat selection was spatially explicit. Habitat features at local spatial scales were more strongly associated with nest site selection in unfragmented grasslands managed intensively for cattle production than they were in fragmented grasslands within a matrix of farmland. Moreover, the relative influences of habitat features at local spatial scales were affected by habitat conditions at broader spatial scales. The result highlights the importance of accounting for spatial heterogeneity when evaluating the ecological effects of habitat components on space use and resource selection. The paper will be published soon in the Journal of Wildlife Management and is available as an early view article at:

McNew, L. B., A. J. Gregory, and B. K. Sandercock. 2012. Spatial heterogeneity in habitat selection: nest site selection by Greater Prairie-chickens. Journal of Wildlife Management DOI:10.1002/jwmg.493
Contact: Lance McNew, (907) 786-7000


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