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Weekly Highlights for 1-11-2012

Departmental/Bureau News

USGS to Co-sponsor 2012 Marine Science Symposium in Alaska
The Alaska Marine Science Symposium is an interdisciplinary conference showcasing ocean research in the Bering Sea, Arctic Ocean and Gulf of Alaska. The conference will be held January 16-22 in Anchorage, Alaska and is widely attended by scientists, resource managers, and the public. USGS Alaska Science Center research will be presented at two oral presentations entitled "Post-Breeding Movements of Kittlitz's Murrelet from the Gulf of Alaska and Aleutian Islands to the Arctic" and "Genetic investigation of the population structure of Arctic cod" and evening poster sessions. Posters will focus on research topics including walrus, polar bears, seabirds, ringed seals, remote sensing and mapping of eelgrass, glaciers, diet compositions of marine predators using fatty acid signature analysis, and impacts of volcanic eruptions on marine and terrestrial ecosystems. In addition, USGS will have a booth highlighting research from the Alaska Regional Executive Office, the Alaska Science Center, and the Alaska Volcano Observatory. Further information including agendas and abstracts may be found at
Contact: Mark Shasby Anchorage, AK, (907) 786-7065

USGS Geologist Speaks at Alaska Miners Association Luncheon
On January 11, James V. Jones, Research Geologist with the USGS Alaska Science Center will give a talk entitled "New Evidence for Precambrian sedimentary connections between western North America, Australia, and Antarctica" at the monthly Alaska Miners Association/Society of Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration luncheon meeting. The talk will discuss techniques developed over the last decade to date sedimentary rock successions that were previously "undatable" and how these techniques are being used to address fundamental tectonic problems in the southwestern United States and Alaska. Recent findings from Arizona and New Mexico indicate that some 1.6 to 1.4 billion year old sediments were derived from non-North American sources and require the proximity of another "exotic" continent. These results are being used to test global supercontinent reconstructions for the period 1.5 to 1.0 billion years ago, with implications for the worldwide distribution of geologic resources and tectonic evolution of the Earth system.
Contact: James Jones Anchorage, AK, (907) 786-7442

USGS Speaks at Alaska Geology Society Meeting
On January 19, USGS geologist Sue Karl will be the guest speaker at the Alaska Geology Society monthly meeting. Her talk will discuss Rare Earth Element (REE) Deposits Associated with the Lower Jurassic Peralkaline Granite at Bokan Mountain Southeast Alaska.
Contact: Susan Karl Anchorage, AK, (907) 786-7428

Study Emphasizes Importance of a Diverse Habitat Matrix for Grizzly Bears in Northern Rocky Mountains of British Columbia
A new paper co-authored by USGS Alaska Science Center research wildlife biologist Dave Gustine titled "Seasonal habitat use and selection by grizzly bears in Northern British Columbia" was recently published in the January issues of The Journal of Wildlife Management. Throughout their range in North America, grizzly bears occupy a broad range of habitats to satisfy nutritional, thermal, and security requirements. Researchers examined patterns of habitat selection by grizzly bears relative to topographical attributes and three potential surrogates of food availability: land-cover class, vegetation biomass or quality, and habitat models for moose, woodland caribou, and Stone's sheep. This study provides information for resource managers and suggests that actions must maintain a diverse habitat matrix distributed across a large elevational gradient to ensure persistence of grizzly bears as levels of human access increase in the northern Rocky Mountains. The article may be viewed at

Milakovic, B., Parker, K. L., Gustine, D. D., Lay, R. J., Walker, A. B. D. and Gillingham, M. P. (2012), Seasonal habitat use and selection by grizzly bears in Northern British Columbia. The Journal of Wildlife Management, 76:170180. doi:10.1002/jwmg.235
Contact: David Gustine, (907) 786-7000

USGS Study Uses Fossil and Modern Arctic Ground Squirrel Caches and Nests to Reconstruct Beringia Vegetation
USGS ecologist Benjamin Gaglioti is lead author of a paper published in Quaternary Research entitled "Paleoecology of arctic ground squirrel caches and nests from Interior Alaska's mammoth steppe ecosystem with a modern calibration." Analyses of ancient plants from the preserved food caches and nests of Arctic ground squirrels found frozen in permafrost deposits in Beringia yield robust information about the ice age environment. This study emphasizes the value of using multiple approaches, which each capture different aspects of past ecosystems, for teasing out the complexities of paleoecological reconstruction. This work contributes to the growing evidence for the widespread occurrence in late Pleistocene Eastern Beringia of distinctive habitats and plant taxa not characteristic of northern regions today. These types of analyses can reveal late Pleistocene ecosystems that have no modern analog, which may be useful for forecasting the biotic responses to modern global change. The article may be accessed at

Gaglioti, B. V., Barnes, B. M., Zazula, G. D., Beaudoin, A. B., Wooller, M. J. (2011) Paleoecology of arctic ground squirrel caches and nests from Interior Alaska's mammoth steppe ecosystem with a modern calibration. Quaternary Research 76, 373-382.
Contact: Benjamin Gaglioti, (907) 786-7000

Press Inquiries/Media

In response to the "USGS Satellite Telemetry Data" January 6 News Release (, USGS Alaska Science Center (ASC) biologist Matthew Sexson has answered media inquiries regarding Spectacled Eider ecology and his role in the fuel delivery to Nome. The Spectacled Eider Study is a good example of how USGS science is valuable to the public and incorporated into decision making. Resource Managers are using Spectacled Eider satellite telemetry data collected by USGS Alaska Science Center scientists to plot a route to help deliver emergency fuel to the ice bound coastal community of Nome, AK. Media contacts include Alaska Dispatch; Coastal Radio (97.3) and Liz O'Connell from WonderVisions. For more information about the study please visit
Contact: Matthew Sexson Anchorage, AK, (907) 786-7177

On January, 5 USGS Alaska Science Center (ASC) scientist Chad Jay was interviewed by Kate Gammon for a story with Our Amazing Planet. Jay answered questions about the walrus telemetry work conducted by the ASC and answered questions related to how walrus distribution and behavior may be changing with changing summer sea ice conditions in the Chukchi Sea. Female and young walruses are using land haul-outs more frequently in recent years than in the past, which may ultimately have consequences on survival and reproductive rates.
Contact: Chadwick Jay Anchorage, AK, (907) 786-7414


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