Biologists can count how many marine animals are present in the Alaska Maritime Refuge to gauge their current and future well-being. But what were their abundance, distribution, and changes hundreds or thousands of years ago?Windows on the PastTurning to archaeologists, they found a few windows to the past.Archaeologists with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and their associates braved rain, wind, and icy hands to meticulously dig into and record the past on key islands. Answers from early Alaska NativesThe biologists and archaeologists asked the questions, and the early peoples of Alaska are helping to answer them through the tools, animal bones, shells, and other clues they left behind in ancient village sites and middens.Learn moreWestern Aleutians Archaeological and Paleobiological Program Rat Island (Rats and beads: legacies of contact between Aleuts and Newcomers)Buldir Island (Use of remote seabird island includes whale bones and extinct mammal)Attu Island (Digging into population growth)
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Biologists recently discovered Kittlitz’s murrelets nesting on Adak, and since then have searched the island for more birds. An elusive and little understood seabird, Kittlitz’s murrelets are a species of concern because of their low numbers and restricted range. Their cryptic mottled plumage and secretive behavior around their solitary nest sites makes locating murrelet nests seem a lot like looking for a needle in a haystack. If eyes are not the best tool for finding Kittlitz nests, what about noses? This summer a new member joined the team: Otto, a ten-month-old Deutsch-Drahthaar (akin to a German wirehair pointer). Even in the Aleutians, Otto is not the first dog to work alongside Refuge biologists. Read more about Otto and how we went to the dogs to bring back an endangered species.