Biologist Dominique Watts began collecting bees in 2011. No inventory has ever been done of
pollinators on the Alaska Peninsula and he needs help collecting more samples
from a wider range of locations.
Dom tried a
variety of collection methods, recruiting assistance from other staff members
and volunteers. He preserved the
specimens in 100% ethanol and sent them to his partners in the US Department of
Agriculture’s Bee Biology and Systematics Laboratory. James Strange is conducting DNA research on
bumblebees for the USDA. Using DNA
analysis and microscopic identification methods, he has verified 9 species of
bumblebees so far in Dom’s specimens.
Samples of bee
species were taken opportunistically in 2011, piggybacking on other projects. This will continue.
anyone throughout the Alaska Peninsula to send or bring him samples of bees or
wasps. He recommends putting them into a
freezer for a few hours to kill them.
The bee can then be brought to the refuge office or sent to Dom. He can
also supply people with collection kits. Call our office to learn more:
Dom Watts is conducting a study of wolves and other carnivores on the Alaska
Peninsula by collecting their whiskers.
Hair and whiskers
are built with molecules taken from the food an animal eats. Carbon, nitrogen,
and other atoms are part of the structure. Each atom contains electrons,
protons, and neutrons; but atoms are not all alike. Atoms of the same type
might have different numbers of neutrons, which give them different weights. Carbon
atoms, for instance, might have 13 neutrons or they might have 12. Different
weights of atoms are called “isotopes.”
caribou and moose, which eat different kinds of plants, differ a little in
their isotopic signatures. Wolves eat different kinds of foods throughout the
year. They may eat salmon, which have a very different isotopic signature from
land animals. A wolf that eats salmon will have a different ratio of stable
isotopes found in its body compared with the one that eats mostly caribou or
bones, skin, blood – every part of its body – contains this isotopic record. Hair
and whiskers can be easily collected and stored for analysis. Another advantage
of hair is that its isotopes are laid down in a time line, with the oldest part
of the hair at the tip. Even hair and whiskers from tanned hides can be used
for isotopic analysis. Dom encourages hunters to send in samples of hair and
whiskers from all carnivores, cut as close to the skin as possible, whether
newly harvested or from much older hides.
If you enjoy
watching birds, join citizen science efforts to gather information about them.
Every year, the Christmas Bird Count in December and the International
Migratory Bird Day in May are times when people gather together to count
species and numbers of birds. This data helps reveal trends and changes in bird
populations throughout North America. Wildlife Biologist Susan Savage organizes
efforts in King Salmon and Naknek. Contact her for details: 907-246-3339.
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Many of the salmon from the world’s most valuable sockeye salmon fishery (Bristol Bay) spawn in the streams that originate on Refuge lands.