Skip Navigation

Biology News

  • Articles on local insects

  • Presentations at the Kachemak Bay Science Conference

  • Earthworm presentation at Alaska sustainable agriculture conference


    3/2015 - Entomologist Matt Bowser presented on earthworms ("Earthworms in Alaska: friend or foe?") at the Alaska Sustainable Agriculture Conference in Fairbanks.

  • Elodea presentations in Anchorage, Palmer, and Cordova


    3/2015 - Presentations on Elodea entitled "Elodea on the Kenai Peninsula and what we’re doing about it" were given by Supervisory Biologist John Morton in Anchorage (Committee on Noxious and Invasive Plant Management, October 2014), Palmer (Mat-Su Salmon Symposium, November 2014), and Cordova (Public Meeting & Workshop on Elodea, March 2015).

  • Kenai caribou herd updates

    2/2015 - Pilot-biologist Nate Olson tracked down VHF collared caribou in all four herds on the Kenai Peninsula during the latter part of February. A few individuals are radio-collared in each of the herds to ensure that herds can be relocated to assess productivity (spring calf counts) and adult mortality.  Three of the six caribou in the Kenai Lowland herd were relocated SE of Browns Lake and SW of West Mackey Lake; sightability was poor and, only 13 caribou were counted.  All six collared caribou in the Killey River herd were alive and well, found on the bench between Skilak Lake and Killey River; 255 caribou were counted.  The two collared caribou in the Fox River herd were located, one alive and the other dead; most of the herd were below snow line between Tustumena Glacier and Fox River.  All seven collared caribou in the Kenai Mountain herd were found, but one was dead on upper Cripple Creek west of Hope; all collared caribou were west of Resurrection Creek between Big Indian Creek and Mystery Creek.

  • Essay on birch thinning


    2/2015 - An essay on recent crown thinning of birch coauthored by Entomologist Matt Bowser appeared in USDA Forest Service, Alaska Region's annual report, "Forest Health Conditions in Alaska - 2014."

  • Next-generation sequencing presentation


    1/2015 - A presentation on Next-Generation Sequencing of insect samples entitled "We’re getting there: a first look at (cheap!) next-generation barcoding of bulked arthropod samples" was given by Entomologist Matt Bowser at the eighth annual meeting of the Alaska Entomological Society in Fairbanks.

  • Bioinvasions in a Changing World

  • Kenai Lowland Caribou herd update


    6/2014 - Pilot-biologist Nate Olson and biologist Todd Eskelin flew radio-telemetry and aerial calving survey for the Kenai Lowland Caribou herd in cooperation with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.  All six radio-collars were located, however radio-collars were on mortality mode on the wintering grounds and likely perished this spring.  The cause of mortality is unknown.  The Kenai Lowland Caribou herd is small, estimated to be around 150 total animals.  The herd is migratory, moving to the area between Nikiski and the Kasilof River flats to Browns Lake in the spring to calve and spending winters east of the Moose River to Mystery Creek road to the northern end of Skilak Lake.
    We counted a minimum of 97 caribou (81 adults/16 calves) north and east of the Kenai Airport south to the Kasilof River flats (traditional calving grounds).  These numbers seem consistent with those from the last decade indicating that calf production has been relatively stable for that period.  However, due to constraints related to low and inconsistent sight-ability from the air it is difficult to detect solid long-term trends in calf production.

  • Moose nutritional condition and productivity


    6/2014 - Pilot–biologist Nate Olson assisted Alaska Department of Fish and Game in locating radio-collared cow moose as part of a long term study monitoring moose nutritional condition and subsequent productivity on the Western Kenai Peninsula. Moose were located daily starting mid-May through mid-June to identify when they calved and how many calves were born. We will continue to radio-track these moose through the year to record calf survival

    This information is used to monitor the nutritional condition of a moose population and their subsequent productivity. Boertje et al. 2007 (Ranking Alaska moose nutrition: signals to begin liberal antlerless harvests, Journal of Wildlife Management 71:1494-1506) outlined several measures that include body condition (i.e., rump fat or total body fat), parturition rate, twinning rate, short-yearling weight, and browse removal. Since there are sometimes conflicting results of individual measures and lots of inter-annual variation, it is prudent to look at multiple measures across several years to successfully assess the overall nutritional condition of a population. Here’s a summary of just some of our measures.

    1. Parturition rate (how many cows have a calf). Adult cow moose (≥3 years of age) in areas with little or no nutritional constraints typically have a parturition rate near 90% or higher. Boertje et al. (2007) documented a nutritionally stressed population south of Fairbanks as having the lowest mean parturition rate (70%) on record in Alaska. The mean parturition rate of cows in GMU 15A over the past 3 years is about 70%. The parturition rate in GMU 15C over the past 3 years is >75%.

    2. Twinning rate. Twinning can be variable across a moose range and is a reflection of the quality of summer range, and to a smaller degree, the condition of adult cows coming into a summer. In a long-term monitored population south of Fairbanks, twinning has ranged from a high of 49% to a low <10%. In GMU 15A, the twinning rate was 72% for two years in the early 1980s and has declined to just over 25% for the past 4 years. Twinning in GMU 15C is higher and has averaged over 35% over the past 4 years.

    3. Calf Survival. Annual calf survival in 2012 was relatively low. Less than 15% of the calves in both 15A and 15C survived a year. The record deep snow fall during the winter of 2011/12 likely influenced the maternal condition, and therefore, the health of the newborn calves in the spring of 2012. The following year, calf survival was much higher in GMU 15C but still very low in GMU 15A.

  • First treatments of Beck and Daniels Lakes


    6/2014 - Refuge biologists, working with other members of the Kenai Peninsula CWMA have begun the road back to an elodea-free peninsula.  This past week (June 3-4) we applied the first treatments of Beck and Daniels Lakes.  The 200-acre Beck Lake was a whole-lake treatment with both liquid fluridone (for rapid initial uptake) and pelleted fluridone (slow-release). The 620-acre Daniels Lake was a partial-lake treatment where we applied diquat (to get immediate elodea suppression) and pelleted fluridone in 5 areas totaling ~100 acres.  Each treatment took a day. The third lake, Stormy, will be treated as a whole-lake treatment later in July after we receive funds from the Kenai Peninsula Borough.  The second treatments for all three lakes are scheduled in mid-September.  In total, our prescription calls for two treatments in 2014, one in spring 2015, and one in spring 2016, with the expectation that we will eradicate elodea from the only 3 lakes known to be infested by elodea on the Kenai Peninsula. 

  • Presentation at the 2014 US-International Association of Landscape Ecology Conference


    05/2014 - A presentation entitled "Modeling the acoustic footprint of human-made noise in an Alaskan wilderness" was given at a special symposium on Soundscape Ecology at the 2014 US-International Association of Landscape Ecology Conference in Anchorage.  Tim Mullet cooperatively chaired and coordinated the symposium with Almo Farina from Urbino University, Italy.

  • Elodea presentations at public meetings


    4/2014 - Refuge staff helped organize two opportunities for the public to learn about Elodea, the first submersed freshwater invasive plant to get established on the Kenai Peninsula. The first public meeting on April 24, 6 - 8 p.m. at the Nikiski Community Recreation Center, was primarily to inform Daniels and Beck Lake landowners of this summer's plans to begin eradicating elodea in those lakes. The second opportunity was a special session on elodea biology and management on April 25, 2 - 4:30 p.m. at the Kenai River Center, as part of the Annual Weed Workshop hosted by the Kenai Peninsula Cooperative Weed Management Area.  Supervisory Biologist Morton presented "What's it going to take to eradicate elodea from the Kenai Peninsula?" at both meetings. 

  • Kenai defoliation mapping


    4/2014 - An essay on mapping insect defoliation over the Kenai Peninsula using satellite imagery was published in the Forest Service's annual report, Forest Health Conditions in Alaska - 2013 (Bowser).

  • Ecological restoration in Wilderness workshop

    3/2014 - Supervisory Biologist John Morton spent 3 days in Missoula, Montana, as an invited participant in an interagency workshop to develop guidance on ecological restoration in Congressionally-designated Wilderness. The workshop was organized by the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Institute and the University of Montana's Wilderness Institute, and included experts from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, and Bureau of Land Management.

  • Killey River herd count


    3/2014 - Pilot-biologist Nate Olson located all of 6 collared caribou in the Killey River herd on March 19 and 20 while radio-tracking in a PA-18 Super Cub.  At least 374 caribou were counted in nine groups between Skilak Glacier and Sheep Creek.  This is good news as the Killey River herd was thought to have dropped to 250 in the aftermath of three avalanches in 2001-03 that killed ~200 caribou.  

    Additionally, all of 2 collared caribou in the Fox River herd were located on March 20 while radio-tracking.  At least 90 caribou were counted in seven groups between Clear Creek and Fox River on the Southeast side of Tustumena Lake.  The Fox River herd is thought to be stable at around 70 caribou.  More information on caribou herds on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge can be found at

  • Presentation at interior Alaska FIA workshop


    2/2014 - A presentation entitled "Scaling up, down and sideways: Leveraging the FIA with an adjunct inventory of species richness on Kenai National Wildlife Refuge" was presented at a workshop held in Anchorage on 5 February.  Supervisory Biologist Morton co-organized this 2-day workshop to explore ways that state and federal agencies, organizations and universities could collaborate with the Forest Inventory and Analysis Program to conduct the first comprehensive inventory of interior Alaska's 80 million acres of forest.

  • Notes on a hopper at Headquarters Lake


    2/2014 - This article in the journal Psyche details observations on the cixiid hopper Cixius meridionalis, which feeds on roots of black spruce and dwarf shrubs (Bowser).

  • Presentation at the 2014 annual meeting of the Alaska Entomological Society


    1/2014 - A presentation entitled "Notes on two Fulgoroidea (Hemiptera) species associated with black spruce" was given at the 2014 annual meeting of the Alaska Entomological Society (Bowser).

  • Two new species of parasitic wasps described from Kenai National Wildlife Refuge


    1/2014 - In this article in the January 2014 issue of the Annals of the Entomological Society of America, two new new species of figitid wasps, Phaenoglyphis kenaii and Alloxysta vicenti, were described from the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.  The specimens were collected as part of the Refuge's Long Term Ecological Monitoring Program.  These particular wasps are hyperparasitoids that benefit aphids by parasitizing the parasites of the aphids.

  • Elodea survey of Kenai Peninsula completed


    12/2013 - Using two grants totaling $50K from the USFWS Invasives & Volunteer Program and the National Fish Habitat Partnership, Refuge and Kenai Fisheries Office staff with volunteers from the Friends of Alaska Refuges surveyed 64 lakes on the western Kenai Peninsula for elodea during summer 2013. To date, elodea has only been found in Daniels, Beck and Stormy Lakes in two watersheds north of Nikiski. Working with a technical subcommittee of the Kenai Peninsula Cooperative Weed Management Area, planning efforts are underway to begin the eradication of elodea in spring 2014 with initial grants of $40K from the Kenai Peninsula Borough and $40K from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (Morton).

  • Presentation at two public hearings on Kenai brown bear hunt


    11/2013 - The Refuge issued an emergency closure of the Kenai brown bear fall hunt on 10/26/13.  A presentation entitled "Why Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Closed the Fall 2013 Kenai Brown Bear Hunt" was given at two public hearings in Anchorage (21 Nov) and Soldotna (25 Nov).

  • Presentation on Elodea at the 2013 Alaska Invasive Species Conference


    11/2013 - A presentation entitled The quest for political and ecological freedom from Elodea on the Kenai Peninsula" was given at the 2013 Alaska Invasive Species Conference in Fairbanks (Bella).

  • Bella elected to CNIPM board

    11/2013 - Libby Bella was elected to a two year term on the Board of Directors of the Committee for Noxious and Invasive Plants Management in Alaska.

  • Presentation at the Northwest Boreal Landscape Conservation Cooperative landscape planning workshop


    11/2013 - A presentation entitled "How to do proactive conservation planning at the LCC scale in light of landscape changes?" was given at the 3-day workshop, "Building a landscape conservation framework for the Northwest Boreal Partnership" (Magness).  Magness helped organize the workshop.

  • Presentations at the Society for Ecological Restoration conference

  • Common gardens initiated with construction of exclosure


    8/2013 - The first of several planned exclosures was constructed (by Youth Conservation Corps) to cultivate common gardens as second step (after models) in developing climate adaptation strategies (Bella). Also, several local tree plantations were collaboratively remeasured (Bella).

  • Insect defolation mapped from satellite data


    7/2013 - Near real-time maps of potential insect defoliation were generated from eMODIS satellite-derived reflectance data.  These maps were used to guide the U.S. Forest Service's aerial pest detection survey over the Kenai Peninsula, the first time satellite data have informed aerial detection surveys in Alaska (Bowser).

  • Presentations at the 2013 AKSAF conference

  • Presentation at the 2013 TWS Alaska Chapter meeting


    4/2013 - A presentation entitled "Predicting the distribution of human-made noise in the soundscape: an indicator of habitat quality" was given at the Alaska Chapter of the Wildlife Society's annual meeting in Fairbanks (Tim Mullet).

  • Presentation at the 2013 KP-CWMA workshop


    4/2013 - A presentation entitled "11 years of combating non-native plants on the Kenai Peninsula" was given at the 10th annual Kenai Peninsula Cooperative Weed Management Area workshop in Homer (Morton).

  • Natural Resources Biometrics Webinar


    3/2013 - A Natural Resources Biometrics Webinar entitled "Data mining species distribution and landcover" was given by Magness.

  • Kenai brown bear population estimate released


    1/2013 - A peer-reviewed reported entitled "The Kenai brown bear population on Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and Chugach National Forest" was completed (Morton).

  • Thesis on Chickaloon Flats migratory shorebirds completed


    1/2013 - A University of Delaware Master's thesis entitled "Migratory shorebird and vegetation evaluation of Chickaloon Flats, Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska" was completed (Sadie Ulman).

  • Presentation at the 6th annual meeting of the Alaska Entomological Society


    1/2013 - A presentation entitled "A first look at defoliation events on the Kenai Peninsula from 2000-2012 using MODIS data" was given at the 6th annual meeting of the Alaska Entomological Society.

  • Thesis on public perception of Kenai brown bears completed


    12/2012 - A University of Wisconsin Master's thesis entitled "Residential perceptions of brown and black bears and human-bear conflict mitigation on the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska" was completed (Rebecca Zulueta).

  • Presentation at the 2012 Alaska Invasive Species Conference


    10/2012 - A presentation entitled “EDRR: Time to tweak the model?” was given at the 2012 Alaska Invasive Species Conference in Kodiak (Morton).

Last Updated: Mar 26, 2015
Return to main navigation