Science and Research



Parks are living laboratories where scientists ask questions and conduct research through observation and experiments. They learn from interactions of plants and animals in their natural environment. The National Park Service preserves the places and stories of discovery and uses what we learn through science to manage our natural and cultural resources.
caribou with with antlers and collar tag laying down in yellow and orange grasses
Tagged Caribou with velvety antlers, resting in Fall-colored shrubs.

NPS Photo/Mason Reid

The Chisana and Mentasta Caribou herds are closely monitored to ensure their populations remain healthy.

Mount St. Elias, Icy Bay & Tyndall Glacier

Geology is the study of the Earth’s energy, water, minerals, environment and hazards such as landslides, volcanoes, earthquakes, and floods.

spawning Sockeye Salmon with red body and green head

Biology is the study of living organisms and their growth, origin, evolution and the ecosystems they inhabit.

wetlands ecosystem - pond with algae and trees on the banks

Ecology is a branch of biology that studies the interactions among organisms and their biophysical environment, both biotic and abiotic.

Illustration of an Ahtna homesite by Eric Carlson

Archaeology is the study of human history and prehistory through the analysis of sites, artifacts and other physical remains.

colorful bands of green light in the night sky
Aurora Borealis

A natural light phenomena occurs when atomic solar particles strike and excite atoms in Earth’s atmosphere, which emits photons and color.

rock with fossils embedded

Paleontology is the study of prehistoric life which includes fossils of ammonites, mammoth and ichthyosaurs and their evolution.

two glaciers joining between mountain ridges

A Glacier is a slow moving river of ice formed by the accumulation and compaction of snow on mountains.

bat flying with wings spread

Alaska is home to five species of bats, with the little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) being the most abundant and widely distributed.

pink lichens (Dibaeis baeomyces) on rock substrate

A lichen consists of a fungus and an alga growing together in a symbiotic partnership, connected and sensitive to their environment.

retreating glacier on a mountain
Climate Change

Change is a dynamic force of nature, ever present and constant. Scientists say that climate change is happening and there are consequences.

youth conducting stream survey
Citizen Science

Citizen scientists work alongside researchers to collect data and find answers to real-world questions and contribute valuable information.

Yakutat Bay coastline
Coastal Landscapes

Huge mountains, enormous glaciers, and temperate rainforest meet the ocean, with 155 miles of remote coastline.

CAKN Physical Scientist probing a bog near Tanada Lake Trail to determine permafrost thaw depth.
Central Alaska Inventory & Monitoring

Ecological monitoring to track changes in resources and processes helps us understand how these ecosystems work and their overall condition.

park staff conducting snow depth survey in winter.
Alaska Park Science articles

Alaska Park Science is a publication covering science throughout Alaska. Dig into park-specific articles.


NPS Article Search ( st elias)

IRMA Data Store WRST Publications (

Alaska Park Science (digital articles)

Research Permit and Reporting System (RPRS) IRMA website

Each year researchers at all national parks submit an Investigator Annual Report (IAR) summarizing their findings to the National Park Service. You can search IAR’s by park, investigator name, year, or general subject heading. Researchers may apply online for a research and collecting permit.

Information for Researchers

Wrangell-St Elias NPP also hosts a number of academic researchers each year. Some researchers have sought special permission to conduct particular studies in the park, while others are awarded one of a variety of fellowships or researcher-in-residence status. Obtain instructions on how to apply for a research permit; logistical information for planning your research expedition; and other useful info.

Research in Alaska National Parks


Alaska National Parks Science Articles

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    Last updated: June 8, 2020

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    Contact Info

    Mailing Address:

    Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve
    PO Box 439
    Mile 106.8 Richardson Highway

    Copper Center, AK 99573


    907 822-5234

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