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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Rock ptarmigan (Lagopus mutus) occur throughout Alaska. Fourteen subspecies of rock ptarmigan are found in North America. Seven of the fourteen subspecies occur in the Aleutians, and six of these occur on only one or a few islands.