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To inventory and monitor resources of the Yukon Flats Basin to achieve refuge purposes.
Track and analyze all bear/human conflicts for all circumpolar polar bear range states (countries). As a result of on-going and predicted future habitat loss, polar bears are expected to spend longer periods of time on land where they are susceptible to human disturbance. At the same time, human activity in coastal areas of the Arctic is increasing (e.g. oil and gas exploration, tourism) in conjunction with an increased number of nutritionally stressed bears occurring on land. The increasing trend of both polar bear and human use of coastal areas has the potential to result in increasing polar bear-human interactions. Harvest data indicates that defense of life kills have been increasing (USFWS unpublished data). To date, polar bear attacks have been rare but when they do occur, they evoke strong public reaction, especially for residents of communities within the range of polar bears. For sound management of polar bears to be implemented, and adequate protection afforded to people living, recreating, and working in polar bear country, it is imperative that polar bear managers assemble a database of critical information related to bear-human interactions. Interactions with humans may threaten polar bears by: (1) displacement from preferred habitats, such as denning, feeding and resting areas; (2) ingestion of or exposure to contaminants or toxic substances; (3) association of humans with food (food-conditioning) resulting in nuisance bears being killed due to safety concerns for local residents/workers. Polar bear managers can help maintain the current status of their polar bear populations by reducing lethal take of polar bears during bear-human interactions. To prevent escalating conflicts between polar bears and humans, bear-human interaction plans need to be developed and implemented. During the March 2009 Polar Bear Range States Meeting in Tromso, Norway the U.S. was tasked with taking the lead on developing a polar bear / human interaction initiative to address the anticipated future increase in interactions due to climate change. Tor Punsvik, Environmental Advisor, Office of The Governor of Svalbard, Norway and Dr. Terry D. DeBruyn, Polar Bear Project Leader, FWS, Alaska were requested by the Range States to develop a polar bear/human interaction database for the next Range States Meeting in Canada in 2011. It is anticipated that a draft database, populated with data from both the U.S. and Norway, will be ready by November 2009 for testing and comment by the Polar Bear Specialist Group (PBSG). The draft database will be distributed to PBSG members, comment sought, and a request made that members populate the database with pertinent polar bear/human incidents (of primary interest, initially, are records from each country that relate to the use of bear spray and fatalities (both bear and human) resulting from bear-human interactions). At a subsequent meeting of U.S. and Norway in spring 2010, the database will be updated and thereafter redistributed to the PBSG and Range State members. It is anticipated that data from all Polar Bear Range States will then be available for consolidation and validation in winter 2010 and ready to present at the Range States meeting in 2011. To ensure the success of the project, partnering with various agencies and pertinent groups in the range state countries will occur. The Polar Bear Range States parties agree on the need to develop comprehensive strategies to manage bear-human conflicts. Some existing strategies include active deterrence, reduction of attractants, and community education and outreach. Expertise developed for management of other bear species should be consulted in the development of strategies specific to polar bears. The parties agreed to exchange experiences with management of bear-human interactions. Two specific opportunities were identified to develop bear-human interaction strategies: the upcoming Bear-human Workshop in November 2009 in Canmore, Alberta, Canada and the Polar Bear Aversive Conditioning Workshop planned to be held in Alaska in 2010. The Polar Bear-Human Information Management System (PBHIMS) has been developed to standardize the collection of polar bear data across the Range States. This system provides a user-friendly data entry interface and the ability to analyze the collected data. Data stored in the system includes bear-human conflicts, bear observations, bear harvests, and bear natural history data. Scanned images of the original bear forms, narratives, reports, and photos can be attached to each incident to provide additional information that may not be captured in the system. Main gaps: Developed for use by USFWS; other range states are not using it yet.
(1) Monitor the subsistence and handicraft harvest of polar bears, sea otters and walrus; (2) Obtain essential biological data needed to manage; and (3) Help prevent the illegal take, trade and transport of specified raw marine mammal parts. The Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 allows Alaska Natives to harvest marine mammals for subsistence uses. The Marine Mammal Protection Act (pdf) requires that all sea otter and polar bear hides and skulls, and all walrus tusks be tagged by a representative of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This program is implemented through resident MTRP taggers located in coastal villages and communities throughout Alaska. There are more than 150 taggers located in about 100 villages. The information collected by the MTRP will help ensure the long-term survival of these species by monitoring the Native harvest and controlling the illegal take, trade, and transport of marine mammal parts. To find out how to contact taggers, call John Trent at 1-907-786-3815 or 1-800-362-5148. Main gaps: The MTRP harvest data are for 3 stocks of northern sea otter and, with data provided by Russian authorities, for the one stock of Pacific walrus. Polar bear harvest for the Chukchi Sea and southern Beaufort Sea polar bear stocks are for US communities only. Additional harvest occurs in Canada but is accounted for by the Inuvialuit-Inupiat Agreement of 1988. In the largest Alaska walrus harvesting communities, MTRP data are supplemented and independently assessed by a Walrus Harvest Monitoring Program (WHMP) that has existed, more or less continuously since 1960. This program also collects biological specimens. The contact for WHMP is Jonathan_Snyder@atfws.gov. Mr. Snyder is also in the Office of Marine Mammals Management, Region 7, USFWS MS 341 1011 East Tudor Road, Anchorage AK, 99503. Network type: Subsistence harvest data on polar bears and northern sea otters are collected from hunters in Alaska coastal communities.
Support wildland fire management and protect life and property through the accurate measurement, recording and distribution of fire weather environmental data.
Connect public health laboratories and institutes throughout the circumpolar north for the purposes of monitor infectious diseases of concern. Main gaps: russia
The Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Climate Research Facility (ACRF) is a multi-platform national scientific user facility, with instruments at fixed and varying locations around the globe for obtaining continuous field measurements of climate data. Each ACRF site uses a leading edge array of cloud- and aerosol-observing instruments to record long-term continuous atmospheric and surface properties that affect cloud formation and radiation transport through the atmosphere. The ARCF also provides shorter-term (months rather than years) measurements with its two mobile facilities (AMFs) and its aerial measurements. Network type: - Atmosphere, with a focus on the impact of clouds and aerosol on the Earth’s radiation budget. - Location: Primary site: Barrow, Alaska, 71° 19' 23.73" N, 156° 36' 56.70" W Secondary site: Atqasuk, Alaska, 70° 28' 19.11" N, 157° 24' 28.99" W - Community-based: No.
More information about the following long-term observing activity will be available in due course. • Soil survey program description: http://www.ak.nrcs.usda.gov/soils/index.html • Soil climate survey program description: http://www.ak.nrcs.usda.gov/soils/SoilClimateSites/SoilClimateSites.html • For information and data, contact: Rick McClure, firstname.lastname@example.org
Collect snow data and related environmental parameters for streamflow forecasting. Locations: Sixty one (61), see http://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/snotel/Alaska/alaska. Main gaps: Lack of resources for equipment and staff. Access to potential observing sites is limited, and disallowed in some cases, due to land status or their location in public lands designated and/or proposed as wilderness areas.
Sea ice is a dominant feature of marine ecosystems in the Arctic. Its presence directly or indirectly impacts Arctic marine ecosystems, especially on the shelves where benthic and pelagic systems are extensively coupled. If the extent and thickness of sea ice continue to decline, we predict a shift in the type of algal material reaching the benthos (from ice algae to phytoplankton), which will potentially impact the food requirements of the benthos. We have several pieces of evidence showing that both types of ice algae (below-ice ice algae dominated by Melosira arctica and within-ice ice algae dominated by Nitzchia frigida) presently reach the benthos in significant quantities. What we don’t know, and what we propose to address is: “What is the digestibility of ice algae and phytoplankton-derived organic matter by the Arctic macrobenthos?” From the perspective of a macrofaunal organism, digestibility includes three separate components: 1) selection (is encountered organic material ingested or rejected?); 2) absorption (is ingested organic material absorbed during passage through the gut, or does it get egested in the feces?); and 3) assimilation (is absorbed organic material assimilated into biomass?). We propose a series of hypotheses to guide our assessment of digestibility: H1: There is no difference in the quality of ice algae and phytoplankton as food for benthic organisms. H1i: There is no difference in the long-term assimilation of ice algae and phytoplankton by benthic organisms of different trophic groups (suspension feeders, deposit feeders, omnivores). H1ii: There is no difference in the short-term absorption efficiency among different trophic groups feeding on phytoplankton and ice algae. H2: The response of benthic organisms to ice algae and phytoplankton as food sources is the same when assessed on a Pan-Arctic scale. Assessment of long-term assimilation of the various types of algae (within-ice ice algae; below-ice ice algae; and phytoplankton) will be conducted by determining lipid biomarkers and their isotopic ratios, and by determining CHN and protein signatures of organisms collected during all aspects of the work (summer ’02; spring ’03; fall ’03; and summer ’04 in both Norway and Kotzebue, Alaska). Assessment of short-term absorption will first use the ash-ratio method in a whole core delivery experiment. Following the whole-core experiments, dominant taxa from each trophic group will be identified and used in a comparison of 1) absorption efficiencies as calculated by the ash-ratio method, and 2) carbon retention efficiencies as calculated using a pulse-chase radiotracer approach. Finally, we will repeat the dominant taxa absorption efficiency experiments in both Svalbard, Norway at the Ny Ålesund lab and in Kotzebue Sound, Alaska.
This project's goal is to experimentally study strict monogamy in a panarctic seagull, the black-legged kittiwake, in Alaska. It studies mate choice (which is crucial because no mixed strategy is used) in relation to indivdual quality, fitness and sexual conflict in strictly monogamous species. It is rooted in a detailed knowledge of the species’ biology and the merging of three teams (French, Austiran and Alaskan) with long-term experience researching kittiwakes. It uses the unique experimental Alaskan setting for wild populations.
Study of the energy exchange between atmosphere and ice sheets by means of measurment of solar radiation
Measurements of the changes when growing ice is depositing salt into the fjord.
The Submarine Operational And Research Environmental Database (SOARED)is comprised of a fixed relational environmental database using unclassified data collected during the Science Ice Exercises (SCICEX) during the past several years. It also includes publicly accessible gridded historical sound velocity, temperature and salinity data from 1900 from the US National Oceanographic Data Center. This project is a demonstration system to show ways to retrieve and analyze sound velocity, temperature and salinity profiles, bathymetry and ice thickness data using a mouse-driven GIS-based query.
Examine temporal and spatial variation in trace metal concentrations in the western Arctic through the analysis of Black Guillemot feathers. Temporal trends being examined using study skins collected as early as 1897. Spatial variation examined in conjunction with carbon isotope signatures in feathers and by sampling both winter and summer plumages. Regional climate change monitored through examination of annual variation in breeding chronology and success in relation to snow and ice melt.
A proposal has been submitted to the National Science Foundation titled: For Support of the Arctic Social Science Data Center at NSIDC, OPP-0119836.
Contaminants were examined for trends over time, spatial variation based on disparate breeding areas, and relationships with measures of productivity. Most organochlorines and metals declined over time. Mercury was the only contaminant with possibly increasing concentrations in eggs. Egg and feather samples collected in 2000 will provide more information on mercury trends and effects. This study embodies 20 years of data on environmental contaminants in peregrine falcons nesting in Alaska.
The overall project outlined in this proposal represents a series of interrelated studies designed to answer questions regarding the effects of disturbance on distribution and abundance of waterfowl and marine birds. The primary studies (i.e., aerial surveys) are directly related to the objectives identified in the Minerals Management Service (MMS) Statement-of-work regarding Monitoring Beaufort Sea Waterfowl and Marine Birds near the Prudhoe Bay Oil Field, Alaska. Additionally, we plan to include the ‘optional’ studies on eiders using off-shore barrier island habitats. Finally, we propose to conduct ground based studies designed to enhance and expand the interpretation of the aerial surveys. The specific objectives of this study are: 1. Monitor Long-tailed Duck and other species within and among industrial and control areas in a manner that will allow comparison with earlier aerial surveys using Johnson and Gazeys’ (1992) study design. a) Perform replicate aerial surveys of five previously established transects based on existing protocol (OCS-MMS 92-0060). b) Expand the area from original surveys to include near-shore areas along Beaufort Sea coastline between the original “industrial” (Jones-Return Islands) and “control” (Stockton-Maguire-Flaxman Islands) areas. c) Define the range of variation for area waterfowl and marine bird populations. Correlate this variation with environmental factors and oil and gas exploration, development, and production activities. 2. Expand aerial monitoring approximately 50 km offshore. Surveys will target Spectacled, Common and King eiders. The goal is to sample areas potentially impacted by oil spills from the Liberty, Northstar, and/or Sandpiper Units. 3. Develop a monitoring protocol for birds breeding on barrier islands, particularly Common Eiders. These data will be compared to historic data summarized by Schamel (1977) and Moitoret (1998). 4. Examine relationships between life-history parameters (e.g., fidelity, annual survival, productivity) and ranges of variation in Long-tailed Ducks and Common Eider distribution and abundance to enhance interpretation of cross-seasonal effects of disturbance. That is, the combination of aerial and ground based work has the potential to both document changes in abundance/distribution and describe those changes in terms of movements of marked individuals. Parameters will be examined in relation to disturbance using the two-tiered approach developed by Johnson and Gazey (1992). 5. Recommend cost-effective and feasible options for future monitoring programs to evaluate numbers and species of birds potentially impacted by oil spills involving ice-free and ice periods in both inshore and offshore waters.
Persistent organic pollution is a global problem. This fact is especially apparent in the Arctic where pesticides currently used in distant environments accumulate, in some cases to higher levels than those observed in the source region. This pollution threatens the well-being of the aboriginal inhabitants of these regions. Most of the traditionally harvested animals in the Arctic are long-lived and from the higher trophic levels of the food chain, thereby providing an opportunity for considerable bioaccumulation and biomagnification of persistent contaminants. This has prompted a growing concern by the Alaska Inupiat that pollutants in the environment might be contributing to their unique morbidity and mortality rates, especially of their children. Our studies are currently focused on two specific organic pollutants found in the Arctic environment; 1}hexachlorobenzene (HCB), a byproduct during manufacture of several different chlorinated compounds and consistently detected in the Arctic and, 2} dichlorodiphenyl dichloroethylene (p,p’-DDE), a chlorinated environmental breakdown product measured in the Arctic population at significantly higher concentrations than the parent pesticide, DDT. We hypothesize that mammalian embryonic cell exposure to these chemicals, individually or as mixtures at environmentally relevant concentrations and ratios, will alter the cell cycle and/or cause death by apoptosis, rather than by necrosis. We also predict synergistic cytotoxicity of the chemical mixture because of an accumulation of deleterious effects at different cellular target sites by each chemical. We further hypothesize that while some chemicals target non-genetic cellular components (such as a cell membrane or cytosolic component), other chemical effects will occur primarily at the genetic level, directly or indirectly. Our experiments have been designed as a set of sensitive cellular and molecular assays to compare levels and types of cytotoxic and genotoxic activity of the above chemicals (individual and mixture), at environmentally relevant concentrations, upon embryonic cells in culture. Our experimental evidence thus far is that these chemicals, separately or as a mixture at concentrations and molar ratios relevant to that measured in the Arctic environment, do have cytotoxic and/or genotoxic effects that could result in profound consequences to exposed tissues of a developing embryo or fetus. We have further experimental evidence that exposure to both chemicals at environmentally relevant concentrations is more toxic to the cell than the sum of effects by exposure to the individual chemicals. Experimental results indicate this is due to different cellular target sites for each chemical (Appendix A: Preliminary Results).
We compared animals from a caribou (Rangifer tarandus) mortality event in the area of Point Hope and Chariot (Cape Thompson), Alaska (USA) in 1995 to hunter-killed caribou from reference sites (Barrow, Red Dog Mine, and Teshekpuk Lake, Alaska). Gross and histologic endpoints, and element levels (As, Cd, Cu, Pb, Zn, Fe) were evaluated. Starvation/malnutrition were major factors leading to death or severe weakness as very little or no fat (very low body condition scores) and serous atrophy of fat (marrow cavity and histologically) were more prevalent in caribou associated with the mortality event as compared to reference sites animals. Accumulation of hepatic hemosiderin in Kuppfer cells was noted as an indicator of cachexia. Levels of lead in feces and liver, copper the rumen contents, and arsenic in muscle were higher in caribou harvested near Red Dog Mine and might be expected in the mineral rich area, but were not at a level of concern for toxicoses. Kidney levels of cadmium were significantly increased with increasing age, and presents a potential concern for human consumers, and is an expected finding. We concluded that heavy metals played no role in the mortality event and that caribou starved. Further investigation of regional minerals differences is required to understand the sources and transport mechanisms to explain these findings and to properly address mining activity impacts. Mortality events on the north slope of Alaska are not uncommon and likely involve starvation as described here, but in most cases are not investigated, even though recent industrial activities have heightened concern.
White whale (Delphinapterus leucas) blubber samples from three of the five different Alaskan stocks - Cook Inlet (n = 20), Eastern Chukchi Sea (n = 19) and Eastern Beaufort Sea (n = 2) - were analyzed for levels and patterns of chemical contaminants. Blubber of these whales contained sum PCBs, sum DDTs, sum chlordanes, HCB, dieldrin, mirex, *toxaphene and *HCH, generally in concentration ranges similar to those found in white whales from the Canadian Arctic and lower than those in white whales from the highly contaminated St. Lawrence River. The males of the Cook Inlet and Eastern Chukchi Sea stocks had higher mean concentrations of all contaminant groups than did the females of the same stock, a result attributable to the transfer of these organochlorine contaminants (OCs) from the mother to the calf during pregnancy and during lactation following birth. Principal components analysis of patterns of contaminants present in blubber showed that Cook Inlet stock appeared to have identifiable contaminant patterns that allowed the stock to be distinguished from the others. Our results also showed that blubber from the three Alaskan stocks was a source of contaminant exposure for human subsistence consumers, but the health risks from consumption are currently unknown.