Seabirds along Alaska's coast are experiencing mass die-offs. This research brief summarizes the efforts of the National Park Service and other agencies to document this unprecedented event and the need for long-term, consistent and frequent bird surveys.
The 2015 landslide that hit Icy Bay in Alaska's Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve generated one of the largest tsunamis on record. Read about what the scientific community learned from the event and how these lessons can be applied to future disasters.
In Katmai National Park and Preserve and Kenai Fjords National Park, ecologists collect data on marine bird species composition, distribution, and population density. Many species that are monitored were impacted by the Exxon Valdez oil spill; monitoring marine birds improves the ability to discriminate among the potential causes of change in these populations.
The Southwest Inventory and Monitoring Network monitor mussel populations in Katmai National Park and Preserve and Kenai Fjords National Park. Mussels are not only a valued food for humans, but they are consumed by many nearshore predators including sea otters, sea stars, and marine birds.
Black Oystercatcher Monitoring -2016 (PDF)
The Southwest Alaska Inventory and Monitoring Network (SWAN) monitor black oystercatchers in southwest Alaskan National Parks.
Harbor Seals and Glacier Ice Habitat -2016 (PDF)
A collaborative study is investigating the importance of tidewater glaciers in relation to harbor seal distribution and abundance in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve.
An update on the spread of sea star wasting disease in the northern Gulf of Alaska and Aleutian Islands.
Sea Otter Research Highlights -2016 (PDF) Web Article
Researchers at the Southeast Alaska Inventory and Monitoring Program will begin a research project in 2016 to better understand the spatial distribution and abundance of sea otters in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. This project will provide a foundation for understanding the colonization dynamics of sea otters and their influence on nearshore marine communities.
In recent years, the National Park Service and the Hoonah Indian Association (HIA) have collaborated on a range of programs designed to encourage and reinvigorate cultural activities within the park, including resuming the gull egg harvest. Currently, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve managers are collaborating with the HIA to collect data on glaucous-winged gulls to inform future harvests.
Harbor Seal Research -2015 (PDF) Web Article
Biologists at Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve recently completed a study that examined post-breeding movement patterns and dive behavior of female harbor seals. It was found that female harbor seals traveled extensively both within and beyond the boundaries of Glacier Bay, and extensively throughout the Gulf of Alaska. Biologists observed the longest migration known for a harbor seal: 3,411 km (over 2000 miles!). This brief highlights this collaborative study and can also be found on the Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve's website.
This research project was also featured in Newswave, a Department of Interior (DOI) quarterly newsletter featuring stories on ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes activities from within the DOI. The story is features in the Fall 2015 newsletter.
Adaptations on the Chukchi Sea -2015 (PDF) Web Article
In the Arctic, archeologists investigate how coastal settlement patterns have changed throughout time. Cape Krusenstern National Monument has been an ideal place to study these patterns, as this area is known for its human occupation dating back 4,000 years. Visit their site to learn more about these fascinating projects, and review the resource brief above.
Brown Bear Tracking -2015 (PDF) Web Article
Biologists at Katmai National Park and Preserve recently began a project entitled, Changing Tides. This project will investigate the relationships between intertidal invertebrates, bears and people. As part of this larger project, biologists outfitted 12 bears with GPS collars to track their movements between different foraging habitats. This brief outlines this collaring project in more detail. Learn more about this project by visiting their research page.
Kittlitz's Murrelet Abundance Estimates -2015 (PDF) Web Article
Biologists at the Southeast Inventory and Monitoring Network conduct annual monitoring of the Kittlitz's murrelet (KIMU). They recently completed the abundance estimates for 2015. The OASLC recently designed this brief summarizing their findings. Visit their site for reports and data access.
This project was also featured in Newswave, a Department of Interior (DOI) quarterly newsletter. The story is featured in the Fall 2015 newsletter.
Gulf Watch Alaska comprises of more that 30 scientists, including NPS staff, that are involved in long-term monitoring projects in and around the northern Gulf of Alaska. The OASLC worked with the the southwest Alaska I&M monitoring network (SWAN) on a resource brief that summarizes the surveys Gulf Watch Alaska researchers conducted in 2014 that determined that there was no evidence of Sea Star Wasting Disease in the northern Gulf of Alaska, though it has been found in southeast Alaska. This brief can also be found on the SWAN website.
Update: In May 2015, Gulf Watch Alaska scientist Brenda Konar observed sea stars stricken with wasting disease in Kachemak Bay. Alaska Dispatch News has this story.
This research project was also featured in Newswave, a Department of Interior (DOI) quarterly newsletter featuring stories on ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes activities from within the DOI. The story is featured in the Spring 2015 newsletter.
Last updated: November 19, 2018