• pond surrounded by green brush, reflecting a distant range of snow-covered mountains that are dominated by one massive mountain

    Denali

    National Park & Preserve Alaska

2011 Research Fellows for Alaska National Parks Selected

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Date: May 19, 2011
Contact: Lucy Tyrrell, (907) 683-6352

The Murie Science and Learning Center (MSLC) has selected eleven research fellows for 2011. Six researchers are recipients of Discover Denali Research Fellowships for research in or near Denali National Park and Preserve. Five additional researchers are receiving Murie Science and Research Fellowships for research in one of the MSLC partner parks in arctic and subarctic Alaska, which are Bering Land Bridge, Cape Krusenstern, Denali, Gates of the Arctic, Kobuk Valley, Noatak, Wrangell-St. Elias and Yukon-Charley Rivers. This year’s research fellows include five researchers affiliated with the University of Alaska Fairbanks and six researchers from outside the state. They were selected on the significance of their proposed research to park management issues and the scientific or scholarly merit of their proposal. Their research will continue to expand the scientific efforts taking place at Denali and other Alaska national parks.

The research fellows are pursuing projects related to both physical and biological resources in parks, and several address how a warming climate may affect park resources. One researcher will study the effect of glacier moraine debris on the melting rate of glaciers in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. In Denali, one researcher will study what limits tree seedling establishment at treeline; just outside Denali, a pair of researchers will determine the effects of thawing permafrost on the nitrogen cycle.

Other Denali-based projects include a study of the population genetics of blackfish, a study of the paleoenvironment near Fang Mountain, a study to test a new combination of drugs that help make bear immobilization for collaring safer for bears and researchers, a study of the variability of melting of ice on the Kahiltna Glacier , and a reconstruction of the explorations of Stephen Capps in the 1910s and 1920s.

One researcher will study the plant known as Spring Beauty at Feniak Lake in Noatak National Preserve, another will recapture dunlins (shorebirds) in Cape Krusenstern to remove tiny geolocators and interpret the downloaded data to find out the bird’s migration routes to their wintering grounds.

Each Discover Denali and MSLC Research Fellowship recipient will develop an educational outreach opportunity or product about their research, such as a poster, fact sheet, classroom study module for the MSLC, or a public lecture or seminar.  

Research project descriptions are posted here

The research fellows and their topics are:

Discover Denali Research Fellowships (Researchers will conduct research in or near Denali National Park and Preserve):

•  Matthew Campbell, UAF
Population genetics of Denali National Park blackfish (Esociformes, Esocidae: Dallia)
 
•  Tamara Harms, UAF and Michelle McCrackin, Washington State University - Vancouver  
Climate change underfoot: permafrost thaw and nitrogen dynamics

•  Rachel Isaacs, The Pennsylvania State University
Rising temperatures and the influence of nonlinear thresholds on forest expansion in Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska

•  Justin Teisberg, Washington State University
Developing a more efficient and reliable immobilization protocol for grizzly bear managers and researchers

•  T. Colby Wright, UAF
Paleoenvironmental reconstruction of the Late Cretaceous Cantwell Formation near Fang Mountain, Denali National Park, Alaska

Murie Science and Learning Center Research Fellowships
(Researchers will conduct research in one of the eight MSLC partner parks in arctic and subarctic Alaska):

•  Leif Anderson, University of Colorado - Boulder
Contributions of sub-debris melt and ice wall retreat to the rapid deflation of the debris-covered Kennicott Glacier terminus

•  Seth Campbell, University of Maine
Spatial and temporal melt and velocity variability of glaciers in Denali National Park, Alaska

•  H. River Gates, UAF and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Migratory connectivity of dunlin breeding at Cape Krusenstern National Monument

•  Stephany Jeffers, UAF
A new species of Claytonia from Feniak Lake: assessing morphological variation, niche space, and genetics

•  Ronald Karpilo, Colorado State University
Reconstructing and mapping the historic geoscience exploration of Stephen R. Capps in Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska

The Discover Denali Research Fellowships are made possible through proceeds from Discover Denali, an MSLC program developed in partnership between the Denali Education Center and the National Park Service. The Discover Denali program helps Royal Celebrity Tours participants learn about Denali’s natural and human history. The Denali Education Center is an NPS park partner that inspires personal connections to Denali b y educating people of all ages and abilities.

The Murie Science and Learning Center Research Fellowships are made possible through the
partnership between Alaska Geographic and the National Park Service. The Murie Science and Learning Center provides research, discovery, and learning opportunities within arctic and subarctic National Parks to promote appreciation and caring for our natural and cultural heritage. As part of its mission to connect people with their public lands, Alaska Geographic provides staffing and funding toward MSLC operations.

Both research fellowship programs are offered annually. They are particularly appropriate for undergraduate and graduate students, but are open to college and university faculty, and other researchers. Proposals for research that will help park managers make decisions about critical resource issues are encouraged. A typical fellowship grant is around $3,500 to $4,000; however, proposals for up to $8,000 or more are considered for one or two years of research. For more information contact Denali’s Research Administrator Lucy Tyrrell at (907) 683-6352 or Lucy_Tyrrell@nps.gov.

Did You Know?

a moose with small antlers amid brush

Warmer average temperatures over several decades have resulted in expansion of woody vegetation. If this warming trend continues, it will change Alaska's ecosystems and drastically alter the physical appearance of Denali's landscape, as treeline marches higher up the mountains.