Biology News

  • Ecological Transformation Workshop

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    11/2018 - Supervisory Biologist John Morton met in Seattle with a working group to develop recommendations on facilitating ecological transformation for the American Fisheries Society and The Wildlife Society. The working group was hosted by the USGS National Climate Adaptation Science Center (Reston, VA) and is composed of individuals from several agencies and universities. Expected products include peer-reviewed articles in Fisheries and the Journal of Wildlife Management.

  • Worms change Alaskan forests

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    11/2018 - Refuge entomologist Matt Bowser presented a talk entitled "The nudge of a worm: Invasive European earthworms change Alaskan forests" at the 2018 Alaska Invasive Species Workshop in Homer, Alaska.

  • Book on Machine Learning

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    11/2018 - Landscape ecologist Dr. Dawn Magness co-edited a book titled Machine Learning for Ecology and Sustainable Natural Resource Management. The intention of the book is to introduce ecologists and natural resource managers to machine learning.  Machine Learning has a wide variety of powerful applications, with three general uses that are of particular interest to ecologists: (1) data exploration to gain system knowledge and generate new hypotheses, (2) predicting ecological patterns in space and time, and (3) pattern recognition for ecological sampling.

  • Anthropocene Working Group holds 2nd workshop at Kenai Refuge

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    10/2018 - A 3-day workshop was held at the Kenai Refuge to explore how the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Alaska could rethink its conservation paradigm in the unfolding Anthropocene.  Dramatic landscape changes on the Kenai Peninsula (highway expansion, urbanization, commercial oil and gas development, exotic flora and fauna, and climate-driven deforestation and afforestation) were used as a case study by the Anthropocene Working Group to explore opportunities and barriers for new approaches.  Supervisory Biologist John Morton, Landscape Ecologist Dawn Magness and Graduate Student Tracy Melvin gave presentations, and Refuge Manager Andy Loranger facilitated a discussion on legislative and policy challenges.

  • Bold Idea Presented at The Wildlife Society Conference

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    10/2018 - Supervisory Biologist John Morton gave a presentation entitled "Thinking Like a Spruce: The Case for Facilitating Ecological Transformation" at The Wildlife Society's 25th Annual Conference in Cleveland, OH.  The presentation was part of a symposium "Big Ideas and Bold Actions for 21st Century Wildlife Conservation" co-organized by biological intern Tracy Melvin, a doctoral student at Michigan State University.

  • Update on Invasive Elodea Management

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    10/2018 - Kenai Refuge biologists continue to work with  the Kenai Peninsula Cooperative Weed Management Area partners to eradicate elodea from the Kenai Peninsula, first detected in Sep 2012.  Of five known infestationson the peninsula, three were eradicated from Beck, Daniels and Stormy Lakes by Sep 2015.  However, two new infestations were detected in Feb 2017 (Sports Lake) by an Alaska Department of Fish & Game  biologist, and in Jul 2017 (North/South Lake) by a Kenai Watershed Forum biologist.  Both of these waterbodies were treated by Refuge biologists with herbicide in 2017. Treatments with fluridone continued in 2018, with re-applications in July in Sports Lake and September in N/S Lakes, apparently with success to date . Based on a resurvey of 50 points with throw rakes in each of Sports Lake and N/S lakes in Sep 2018, elodea occurrence  decreased from 32% in May 2017 to zero in Sports Lake, and from 44% in Sep 2017 to 18% in N/S Lakes.

  • Three Kenai Refuge Staff in TWS Newsletter

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    10/2018 - The Fall 2018 newsletter of the Alaska Chapter of the Wildlife Society has three stories involving Kenai Refuge staff.  Andy Loranger was recognized for receiving the Refuge Manager of the Year award.  A Refuge Notebook article, written by Supervisory Biologist John Morton on the six wildlife underpasses being constructed on MP 58-79 of the Sterling Highway, was reprinted.  A reprinted article from the Fairbanks NewsMiner recognized the contributions of Refuge Entomologist Matt Bowser to studies of native and exotic earthworms in Alaska.

  • Spruce Beetle Interview

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    10/2018 - Alaska Division of Forestry Forest Health Program Manager Jason Moan and Refuge Entomologist Matt Bowser discussed the current spruce bark beetle outbreak in an interview on local public radio station KDLL.  Program details are posted at http://bit.ly/2OwQmqE and audio is available at https://n.pr/2q1NRhG.

  • Mapping a Volcano

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    9/2018 - While in King Salmon photographing some administrative sites, the Alaska Volcano Observatory asked Refuge Ecologist Mark Laker to fly an aerial photography mission of Vimiaminof Caldera with the  goal of creating a high resolution digital elevation model. Laker and pilot Daniel Peppin, flying at 12,000 feet AGL, successfully flew over half the caldera despite an ash cloud. The product from this effort will allow geologists to track changes in the caldera surface.

  • Preparing to Photograph a Refuge

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    9/2018 – Refuge Ecologist Mark Laker surveyed 11 aerial targets across  Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge for the purpose of creating a high resolution digital elevation model.  The process involves traditional photogrammetry and more recent processing methods referred to as Structure from Motion (SFM). Over the past several years, Mark has built the capacity and technical expertise to acquire and process a variety remote-sensed data on a small and large scale.

  • 2018 Trumpeter Swan Population Estimated

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    9/2018 - In early September Wildlife Biologist Dom Watts and Regional Aviation Manager Nate Olson counted 57 cygnets in 20 broods during the fall aerial survey of the western Kenai Peninsula (see map).  Fifty-eight nesting pairs were counted during the spring survey in June 2018 by biological interns Amber Robbins and Laura Bashor, who flew with LE pilot Shay Hurd.  See https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Kenai/what_we_do/resource_management/trumpeter-swan.html for more information on trumpeter swan management.

  • Brown University's BELL Program Visits Refuge

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    8/2018 - Supervisory Biologist John Morton discusses the ecological effects of climate warming on the Kenai Peninsula from the top of Hideout Trail with youthful participants in the Brown Environmental Leadership Labs (BELL; https://precollege.brown.edu/bell-alaska/). This two week program, in affiliation with the Cook Inlet Tribal Council and Kenai Peninsula College, teaches a couple dozen high school students from across the globe how to begin developing socially-responsible environmental actions. The Kenai Refuge is one of several sites the group has visited over the past four years in southcentral Alaska.

  • Supervisory Biologist Receives Industry Appreciation Award

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    8/2018 - Supervisory Biologist John Morton received an award for Outstanding Fish Habitat Conservation at the 2018 Industry Appreciation Day in Kenai.  Nominated by the United Cook Inlet Drift Association, Morton was acknowledged for leading the charge on eradicating elodea from the Kenai Peninsula. Other individuals involved in the elodea management partnership are recognized in this article:

    https://www.peninsulaclarion.com/sports/refuge-notebook-elodea-partnership-recognized/

  • The Next Generation of Conservation Pilots

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    8/2018 - Kenai Refuge hosted a Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) course for USFWS employees. Refuge Ecologist Mark Laker was the lead instructor for this class of 11 students who became part of the next generation of USWFS pilots trained to operate small quadcopters and other drones. It may look like a toy, but it is capable carrying an array of sophisticated sensors, operating autonomously, and flying in conditions or places manned aircraft can’t reach.

  • NASA DEVELOP Projects

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    8/2018 – Refuge Ecologist Dawn Magness worked with the Maryland Goddard NASA DEVELOP team on two projects.  As part of NASA’s Applied Science Program, DEVELOP hosts teams of interdisciplinary college and graduate students who apply NASA resources to environmental issues with the support of NASA scientists (https://develop.larc.nasa.gov/index.php).  The Spring 2018 term project, “Mapping Treeline Rise and Wetland Conversion in order to Supplement Resource Management Actions in a Changing Alaskan Climate”, used NASA remote sensing products to look for afforestation patterns on the Kenai Peninsula.  (https://develop.larc.nasa.gov/2018/spring/KenaiEco.html). The Summer 2018 term project, “Evaluating Grassland Conversion and the Related Likelihood of Fire Disturbance to Enhance Fire Monitoring and Management in the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska”,  used NASA Earth observations to quantify grassland encroachment and model changes in wildlife risk following bark beetle disturbance (https://develop.larc.nasa.gov/2018/summer/KenaiDisasters.html).

  • Update on Mountain Goat Study

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    8/2018 - Refuge Wildlife Biologist Dom Watts worked with Kevin White (Alaska Department of Fish & Game) to deploy an additional 15 radio-collars on mountain goats in Game Management survey units s 360 and 356 on Kenai  Refuge. Goats were darted from a helicopter and fitted with GPS radio-collars as part of an ongoing cooperative study between KENWR, ADF&G, NPS and USFS aimed at improving the accuracy of aerial survey methods for mountain goats throughout the Kenai Peninsula. Thirty-one mountain goats are now GPS-collared on the Kenai Peninsula, but 2 have since died.    GPS location data will also be used to evaluate habitat use and resource selection in different habitats throughout the Kenai Mountains. During captures, samples to detect and monitor diseases (including Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae), parasites, and nutritional condition were collected to increase our understanding of the factors that may influence mountain goat and Dall sheep populations on the Kenai Peninsula.

  • Article on Willow Gall Midges

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    8/2018 - An article by Entomologist Matt Bowser entitled "DNA barcoding Alaskan willow rosette gall makers (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae: Rabdophaga)" appeared in the Newsletter of the Alaska Entomological Society.  The authors found that at least two distinct species of gall midges were responsible for making willow rose galls on willows of the Kenai Peninsula.

  • Filming for Animal Planet Series

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    7/2018 - Kenai Refuge biologists and seasonal interns  worked with InventTV,  a company filming for an Animal Planet series on Kenai Refuge, over much of the summer.  Wildlife Biologist Dom Watts is highlighted for his capture work on mountain goats and his flight training to become a US Fish & Wildlife Service pilot-biologist.  Much of the research and management that the biology program does is “seen through the eyes” of this summer’s  biological interns (Laura Bashor, Amber Robbins, Anthony Holzhauser and Angel Smith) as they experience habitat restoration, invasive plant management, fish weirs, wildlife underpasses as highway mitigation, tree ring coring, brown bear research, studies on grassland biodiversity, bird banding, and bear safety training.

  • Banding Hummingbirds

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    7/2018 - Fish & Wildlife Biologist Todd Eskelin traveled to Boise and trained with Fred Basset, one of the nation's leading hummingbird banders. Todd banded nearly 200 hummingbirds and received his hummingbird banding certification from the USFWS Bird Banding Lab. With this new skill, Todd hopes to figure out if Anna's hummingbirds attempting to winter on the Kenai Peninsula are the same few birds or if this species is expanding their breeding range northward onto the peninsula.  Read more in Todd's Refuge Notebook article.

  • Earthworms of Interior Alaska

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    7/2018 - Entomologist Matt Bowser co-authored an article led by high school in Biodiversity Data Journal entitled "Earthworms (Oligochaeta: Lumbricidae) of Interior Alaska".  In this study initiated and led by high school student Megan Booysen, the first records of earthworms from Interior Alaska were published, including the first record of an earthworm species believed to be native to Interior Alaska.  Several news outlets picked up the story (links below).

    UAF, July 30: Earthworm species may be native to Interior Alaska

    Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, August 2: Fairbanks high schooler discovers earthworm species possibly native to Alaska

    Alaska Public Media, August 2: Earthworm species found by Fairbanks high school student may be native to Interior

    Alaska Business, August 3: Earthworm Species May be Native to Interior Alaska

    Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, August 11: Student's work leads to Interior Alaska earthworm discovery

  • Utility Poles Leach Dioxins into Refuge Soils

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    6/2018 - A new article, Pentachlorophenol and polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and -furans in surface soil surrounding pentachlorophenol-treated utility poles on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska USA, was co-authored by Fish & Wildlife biologist Lynnda Kahn and Supervisory Biologist John Morton.  Published in Environmental Science and Pollution Research, the study examined 6 pairs of utility poles, consisting of an “old” pole manufactured in 1959 or 1963, a “new” pole manufactured within the past 20 years, and a suitable background soil sample from the same vicinity. Old poles had greater concentrations of 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) equivalents (TEQs) near the pole  than new poles did. Surface soil levels of pentachlorophenol and TCDD-TEQs exceeded both human health and ecological risk-based screening levels.

  • Article in Alaska Park Science

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    6/2018 - Refuge Ecologist Dawn Magness co-authored an article, “Bridging the Boreal: Landscape Linkages Connecting the Federal Conservation Estate in Alaska”, in the Alaska Park Science series titled Migration: On the Move in Alaska.

  • Landscape Genetics Course

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    5/2018 - Refuge Ecologist Dawn Magness attended the Landscape Genetics synthesis workshop in Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho after completing a Landscape Genetics Distributed Graduate Seminar through the University of Idaho.

  • Climate Change Research and Policy Needs

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    5/2018 - Supervisory Biologist John Morton coauthored a report entitled "Protected landscapes in a world of rapid climate change: Identifying research needs to support resource management and policy development".  This collaborative effort led by Sean Parks is intended to be a section in a proposed 10-year strategic plan for research at the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute in Missoula, MT.

  • Kenai Conversation – The connection between climate change, wildfire and moose

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    5/2018 - Retired Kenai National Wildlife Refuge ecologist Ed Berg and Supervisory Biologist John Morton talked about how a warming climate has shrunk lakes and ponds, and increased wildfires, which caused an explosion in the moose population in the 1980s. This discussion was hosted by Jay Barrett as part of "Kenai Conversation", a local program on public radio (KDLL).  Audio available here: http://kdll.org/post/kenai-conversation-connection-between-climate-change-wildfire-and-moose.

  • Kenai Conversation - Seeing the trees for the forest

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    4/2018 - Supervisory Biologist John Morton and Hans Rinke, Kenai-Kodiak Area Forester with Alaska Division of Forestry, teamed up to discuss forests on the Kenai Peninsula, the trees in them, their future and the potential threats they face.  This discussion was hosted by Jay Barrett as part of "Kenai Conversation", a local program on public radio (KDLL).  Transcripts can be found here:  http://kdll.org/post/kenai-conversation-seeing-trees-forest

  • Movi in Alaska

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    4/2018 - During 2017, Refuge Wildlife Biologist Dom Watts and cooperators from the Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADF&G) captured mountain goats to deploy radio-collars for a study of mountain goats on the Kenai Peninsula. During captures, samples were collected to monitor the prevalence of disease agents, parasites, and nutritional condition of study animals. Samples were tested for exposure to a variety of disease agents, including Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae (Movi), a bacterium that has frequently been implicated in dramatic and large-scale die offs in wild sheep populations throughout the western states. Movi had not been documented in wild sheep and goat populations in Alaska and initial tests of 16 Kenai mountain goats did not detect Movi. More recent results from retesting of these samples suggest that 5 of these individuals may have been exposed to Movi. State-wide sampling conducted by the ADF&G also suggest that some Dall sheep populations in Alaska may also have been exposed to Movi. The potentially devastating impacts of Movi on wild sheep populations, discordant results from different test methods, and other factors, highlight the need for further testing to better understand the prevalence and potential influence of Movi in Alaska. Capture operations on the Kenai Peninsula are scheduled for 2018 to deploy radio-collars and collect additional samples for Movi testing.

    For more detailed information on Movi, see the Refuge Notebook article on this topic.

  • The Case for Stewarding Ecological Transformation

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    4/2018 - Supervisory Biologist John Morton presented "Kenai National Bison Range?  The case for stewarding ecological transformation" at a workshop in the USFWS Regional Office in Anchorage.  Morton helped organized the workshop on "Preparing for the Future:  A New Way of Thinking about Conservation", one of several workshops planned for USFWS employees in Alaska to begin thinking about how the agency could better address climate change and other aspects of the unfolding Anthropocene.  Morton gave a similar presentation the week before to a UAF graduate seminar on the Anthropocene.

  • Bird Surveys Using Drones

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    3/2018 - Ecologist Mark Laker helped instruct new USFWS drone pilots complete their Department of Interior UAS (unmanned aerial system) pilot certification during a one week class in Boise, ID. Mark is now a DOI certified UAS instructor. Work this summer will include a continuation of Aleutian tern surveys in partnership with ADFG. Additionally Mark will be testing both UAS and fixed wing based remote sensing technologies for surveying Eider in Western Alaska.

  • Invasive Species Management Chapter

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    3/2018 - Dr. Tobias Schwoerer of the University of Alaska, Anchorage and Supervisory Biologist John Morton authored a chapter entitled "Human dimensions of aquatic invasive species in Alaska: lessons learned while integrating economics, management, and biology to incentivize early detection and rapid response" in the book, Alaska: Economic, Environmental, and Social Issues, published by Nova Science Publishers.

  • Elodea Presentation for the Soldotna Rotary Club

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    3/2018 - Supervisory Biologist John Morton gave a presentation entitled "Elodea on the Kenai Peninsula: Why it's a big deal and what we're doing about it" at the monthly luncheon of the Soldotna Rotary Club.  The talk focused on the rapid response by Kenai Peninsula Cooperative Weed Management Area partners to known infestations of Alaska's first freshwater aquatic invasive plant on local lakes (Beck, Daniels, Stormy, North/South, Sports) since 2012.

  • Women and Climate Change: Dawn Magness

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    3/2018 - Ecologist Dr. Dawn Magness was profiled in "Courage Before the Thaw: Portraits of Alaskan women on the precipice of climate change", an article in The American Scholar. 

  • Chaga Talk

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    3/2018 - Entomologist Matt Bowser gave a talk to the public about identifying, harvesting, processing, and uses of the chaga fungus.  An updated handout is available as a resource.

  • Willow Rose Story

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    2/2018 - Entomologist Matt Bowser and his daughter Apphia gave a presentation entitled "The story of the willow rose" to the Homer Native Plant Society at the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies in Homer, Alaska.

  • Presentation on Sterling Highway project

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    2/2018 - Supervisory Biologist John Morton gave a presentation at the monthly meeting of the Homer Rotary Club on wildlife and pedestrian underpasses being constructed by Alaska DOT&PF as part of the ongoing Sterling Highway MP 58-79 improvement project.

  • Connecting Conservation Lands

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    2/2018 - Ecologist Dawn Magness and her coauthors published a paper in the journal Landscape Ecology entitled "Using topographic geodiversity to connect conservation lands in the Central Yukon, Alaska".

  • Biomonitoring by Molecules

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    2/2018 - Entomologist Matt Bowser gave a presentation entitled "Biomonitoring bugs by molecules: Slikok Creek" at the eleventh annual meeting of the Alaska Entomological Society in Anchorage, Alaska.

  • UAS Tern Survey

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    1/2018 - Ecologist Dawn Magness gave a presentation at the Aleutian Tern Conservation Planning Meeting in Anchorage, January 26-27. The presentation shared work done with biologists Todd Eskelin and Mark Laker to census the Headquarters's Lake Aleutian tern colony using Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS).  Aleutian terns colonies in Alaska have experienced a sharp decline in the past 50 years. Aleutian terns nest in sparse colonies that can include Arctic Terns. Terns are difficult to count accurately because terns flush and fly in swirling patterns when disturbed. We tested the ability of camera images taking from a UAS to accurately count nesting terns and  distinguish Aleutians from Arctic terns.

  • Fall Harvest on Refuges

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    11/2017 - Entomologist Matt Bowser was interviewed in an article entitled "Fall Harvest: Traditions, Meals and Foraging on Refuges."  He talked about harvesting wild plants and fungi and shared a recipe for dairy-free chaga ice cream.

  • Update on Invasive Elodea Management

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    11/2017 - Elodea spp. is the first submersed freshwater invasive plant to become established in Alaska.  All known elodea infestations on the Kenai Peninsula have either been eradicated (Beck, Daniels, Stormy Lakes) or are being treated with fluridone (Sports Lake, North/South Lakes).  No elodea has been detected in Beck, Daniels or Stormy Lakes since September 2015. Kenai Refuge biologists most recently (1 Nov) re-treated North/South Lakes (43 acres, 12 acres) near Nikiski, bumping up the concentrations to 6 ppb before ice-in. Fluridone was last applied to the 70-acre Sports Lake on 16 July, and fluridone concentrations averaged 5.3 ppb as of 18 October.  Unlike native flora, elodea continues to photosynthesize under the ice so treatment with herbicides is effective during winter.

  • Adaptation Strategies Chapter

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    10/2017 - Refuge Ecologist Dawn Magness and Supervisory Biologist John Morton published a chapter, “Implementing Portfolios of Adaptation Strategies on U.S. Conservation Lands in the Anthropocene” in Elsevier’s Reference Module in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences.

  • Future of Pacific salmon

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    10/2017 - Supervisory Biologist John Morton coauthored "Future of Pacific Salmon in the Face of Environmental Change:  Lessons from on the World's Remaining Productive Salmon Regions" published in the journal Fisheries.  The article focuses on how climate change is intersecting with other human drivers to affect the Kenai River watershed and specifically the Chinook fisheries. Its publication was covered in the local newspaper, the Peninsula Clarion.

  • Alaska Invasive Species Workshop presentations

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    10/2017 - Supervisory Biologist John Morton gave two presentations at the Alaska Invasive Species Workshop in Anchorage.  The theme of the workshop was the legacy of invasive species. The first, entitled "Secondary Effects and Fate of Fluridone Used to Eradicate Elodea" was on the chemical legacy of using herbicides.  The second, "Novel assemblages in a rapidly changing climate:  the legacy of exotic species" was on the biological legacy of introducing new species to Alaska.  Refuge Entomologist Matt Bowser was a co-author on both presentations.

  • Forest Health Update

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    10/2017 - Entomologist Matt Bowser provided a Kenai Peninsula forest health update at the Kenai Peninsula — All Lands All Hands bi-annual meeting in Soldotna.

  • Aleutian Tern drone survey recognized

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    10/2017 - Refuge Ecologist Mark Laker's pioneering use of drones to survey Aleutian Terns was recognized on the front page of the October 2017 issue of the USFWS Geospatial Services Newsletter.  Mark's work was also highlighted in detail in the a presentation to the National GIS Steering Committee (minutes 5-12 in the youtube video).

  • Panel on women in science

    9/2017 - Refuge Ecologist Dr. Dawn Magness participated in a panel about women in science hosted by Cook Inletkeeper board member Benjamin  Jackinsky.  Dr. Magness was one of eight women scientists who discussed barriers to and opportunities from engaging more women in science fields where they are under-represented.  The panel discussion was covered by the Peninsula Clarionhttp://peninsulaclarion.com/local/news/2017-09-26/female-scientists-talk-about-women-science.

  • Presentation on reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions

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    9/2017 - Supervisory Biologist John Morton gave a talk on the Sterling Highway MP 58-79 Rehabilitation project to the Soldotna Rotary Club.  Entitled "Why does the moose cross the road?", the presentation described the six underpasses, fencing and jump-offs being constructed to facilitate wildlife movement while helping to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions between Jim's Landing and Sterling.

  • Dena'ina Plants as Food & Medicine Conference

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    9/2017 - Entomologist Matt Bowser participated in the Dena'ina Plants as Food & Medicine Conference at the Dena’ina Wellness Center in Kenai as a member of a panel discussing ethical land use and harvesting on the Kenai Peninsula.  Matt also updated a handout on edible plants and a handout about chaga to share at the conference.

  • Update on terrestrial invasive plant management

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    8/2017 – Biological Technician Kyra Clark and biology interns Cade Kellam, Emily Thomas, and Mary Thomas completed the terrestrial invasive plant surveys/treatment at all of the trail heads and boat launches on the Kenai National Wildlife refuge. Invasive plants were either pulled or spot treated with herbicides in order to keep these species from spreading farther into refuge lands. A combination of the herbicides Milestone® (aminopyralid), Roundup ProMax® (glyphosate), and Aquamaster® (glyphosate) were used to treat the invasive plants.  Approximately 35 acres of refuge land were inspected, of which 4.3 acres were treated with herbicides.  High priority invasive species include Hieracium caespitosum (meadow hawkweed), Hieracium umbellatum (narrowleaf hawkweed), Leucanthemum vulgare (oxeye daisy), Melilotus albus (white sweetclover), and Vicia cracca (bird vetch).  Earlier In June, Clark and Kellam assisted Alien Species Control LLC at the Hilcorp Swanson River Oilfield in spot treating those high priority invasive species with the herbicides Milestone® and Aquamaster® to limit their spread. Approximately 200 acres of the Swanson River Oilfield were surveyed, of which 130 acres were treated with herbicides. In comparison to last year, many of these populations have been noticeably reduced, indicating that the herbicide treatments within the oilfield are effective.  Clark and Kellam also mechanically treated areas off the refuge in both Hope and Cooper Landing where Melilotus albus was found.

  • Collaborative mountain goat study

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    7/2017 - Refuge Wildlife Biologist Dom Watts worked with Kevin White and Dr. Kimberlee Beckmen from the Alaska Department of Fish & Game to deploy radio-collars on 16 mountain goats in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and Chugach National Forest. Mountain goats were darted from a helicopter and fitted with GPS radio-collars as part of a cooperative study between KENWR, ADF&G, NPS and USFS to improve aerial survey methods for mountain goats on the Kenai Peninsula. Orange-colored collars and ear tags allow researchers to identify individuals and collect sightability data during aerial surveys. These data will be used to develop a sightability model that can offer improved accuracy and reduce bias when estimating mountain goat population abundance and trends. Deployed radio-collars also collect GPS location data that will be used to evaluate habitat use and resource selection in different habitats throughout the Kenai Mountains. During captures, samples to detect and monitor diseases, parasites, and nutritional condition were also collected to increase our understanding of a variety of factors that may influence mountain goat population performance on the Kenai Peninsula.

  • Webinar on facilitating ecological transformation

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    7/2017 - Supervisory Biologist John Morton shared his ideas on adaptation in a webinar entitled "Facilitating ecological transformation on the Kenai Peninsula:  the case for doing something versus doing nothing".  It was part of the Safeguarding Wildlife from Climate Change series co-hosted by the National Conservation Training Center and the National Wildlife Federation.

  • Journal article on snowmobile noise

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    7/2017 - Former graduate student Tim Mullet and Supervisory Biologist John Morton coauthored an article entitled "Acoustic footprint of snowmobile noise and natural quiet refugia in an Alaskan wilderness" in the Natural Areas Journal.  The paper suggest that winter soundscapes can be identified and conserved, particularly in Congressionally-designated Wilderness.

  • New crane fly for Alaska

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    7/2017 - A cranefly collected at Headquarters Lake in May was identified by DNA barcoding as Prionocera unimicra, apparently a new record for Alaska.

  • Article on herbicide impacts

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    7/2017 - Supervisory Biologist John Morton coauthored a paper published in Biological Conservation entitled "Rapid response for invasive waterweeds at the arctic invasion front: Assessment of collateral impacts from herbicide treatments".  This research compares a number of biological and water quality parameters for two untreated lakes (control) and two lakes treated with fluridone (an herbicide) near Nikiski.  Fluridone treatments did not systematically affect water quality, plankton or native macrophytes.

  • Refuge species list breaks 2,100

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    6/2017 - The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge's species list is now at 2,101 after recent additions from a quick biological inventory at Gull Rock near Hope.  Ameletus celer, a mayfly collected on the Gull Rock trip, appeared to be a new record for Alaska.

  • Interview on assisted colonization

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    6/2017 - Supervisory Biologist John Morton was interviewed for an article in Deutsche Welle about his ideas on assisted colonization as a way of responding to rapid climate change:  http://www.dw.com/en/can-assisted-colonization-help-save-species-in-a-warming-world/a-39232504

  • Interview on elodea

    6/2017 - Supervisory Biologist John Morton and Dr. Toby Schwoerer at UAA-ISER were interviewed about the risks posed by, and management of, Elodea in Alaska by Charles Wohlforth on Alaska Public Radio in Anchorage:  http://www.alaskapublic.org/2017/06/09/invasive-plants/

  • Sports Lake elodea eradication underway

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    5/2017 - The first herbicides (fluridone, diquat) were applied to Sports Lake in Soldotna to begin the eradication of Elodea. It was detected in Sports Lake in late January 2017. Because Sports Lake has high public use with a public boat launch and three floatplanes owned by lake residents, KP-CWMA partners chose to pursue a permit exemption from DEC to shorten the time between ice-out and application to reduce the likelihood of spread; the exemption was approved in early May. See coverage by the Peninsula Clarion:

    http://peninsulaclarion.com/news/local/2017-03-06/invasive-elodea-found-sport-lake

    http://peninsulaclarion.com/news/local/2017-04-01/meeting-consider-response-sports-lake-elodea

    http://peninsulaclarion.com/news/local/2017-04-15/permit-may-delay-sport-lake-elodea-killing

    http://peninsulaclarion.com/news/2017-05-07/sport-lake-elodea-treatment-could-start-may-16

    http://peninsulaclarion.com/news/2017-05-16/photo-raking-lake

    Image credit: Ben Boettger/Peninsula Clarion

  • Climate change vulnerability chapters

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    5/2017 - Landscape Ecologist Dawn Magness and Ecologist Elizabeth Bella coauthored a chapter on vegetation change and Supervisory Biologist John Morton coauthored a chapter on black-tailed deer/caribou/moose change in the Climate change vulnerability assessment for the Chugach National Forest and the Kenai Peninsula.

  • National Adaptation Forum presentation

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    5/2017 - Supervisory Biologist John Morton gave a presentation at a special session entitled "When Resistance is Futile: Adaptation in the Face of System Transformation" at the National Adaptation Forum in Minneapolis, MN.

  • Museums for documenting entomological diversity

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    5/2017 - Entomologist Matt Bowser contributed to an article entitled "The value of museums in the production, sharing, and use of entomological data to document hyperdiversity of the changing North" appearing in the journal Arctic Science.

  • Article on DNA-based identification

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    5/2017 - Entomologist Matt Bowser wrote an article entitled "Notes on using LifeScanner for DNA-based identification of non-marine macroinvertebrates," appearing in the May 2017 issue of the Newsletter of the Alaska Entomological Society.

  • Local history of mountain hemlocks

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    4/2017 - Retired Ecologist Dr. Ed Berg coauthored an article on the history of mountain hemlocks entitled "Holocene biogeography of Tsuga mertensiana and other conifers in the Kenai Mountains and Prince William Sound, south-central Alaska" appearing in the journal The Holocene.

  • The Economist: climate refugees

    4/2017 - The Economist published a story titled "Climate refugees: How Alaska is coping with global warming.Some flora and fauna may need to be moved around" based on an interview with Supervisory Biologist John Morton:  http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21720306-some-flora-and-fauna-may-need-be-moved-around-how-alaska-coping-global-warming.

  • Sports Lake elodea public meeting

    4/2017 - Partners in the Kenai Peninsula Cooperative Weed Management Area hosted a public meeting on managing elodea in Sports Lake on 12 April (5:30-7:30 pm) at Cook Inlet Aquaculture.  Supervisory Biologist John Morton gave a presentation on the outcomes of previous herbicide treatments in three lakes near Nikiski.  Both radio station KDLL and the Peninsula Clarion reported on the meeting:  http://peninsulaclarion.com/news/local/2017-04-15/permit-may-delay-sport-lake-elodea-killing.

  • Presentation on 100 years of Kenai birding

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    4/2017 - Wildlife Biologist Todd Eskelin gave a presentation entitled "100 Years of Birding on the Kenai...Innovation, Simplicity, Change." The talk was sponsored by the Kasilof Regional Historical Society and the Kasilof Public Library. Todd focused on perceived changes in breeding birds on the Kenai Peninsula between 1900 and 2000 and the value well documented data sets and highlighted the role of various forms of habitat protection for birds, specifically the 4 major river deltas.  He also presented a poster on Kenai bird banding records.

  • Garden pests presentation

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    4/2017 - Entomologist Matt Bowesr gave a presentation to the Central Peninsula Garden Club entitled "Uninvited guests: what to expect from insects and other small creatures dwelling in your garden" at the Cook Inlet Aquaculture building in Kenai.

  • Elodea eradication presentation

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    4/2017 - Supervisory Biologist John Morton gave a presentation on the efforts to eradicate elodea in Alaska at the 2017 Kenai Peninsula Fish Habitat Partnership Science Symposium, held at the Sterling Community Center.  This presentation was timely as elodea was recently detected in Sport Lake.

  • Climate Academy webinar

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    4/2017 - Supervisory Biologist John Morton gave a webinar entitled "Early evidence of climate-induced ecological transformation on the Kenai Peninsula - is there a need to respond?" to the 2017 Climate Academy, a 6-month course offered through the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, WV.

  • Kenai Mountains to Sea webinar

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    3/2017 - Marie McCarty, Executive Director of the Kachemak Bay Land Trust, and Supervisory Biologist John Morton gave a webinar to graduate students enrolled in a Duke University course entitled "Land Conservation in Practice".  The webinar focused on the reasons for, and approach used, to develop the Kenai Mountains to Sea partnership.  This partnership brings focus to land conservation efforts on private lands using fee simple and less-than-fee-simple approaches on 20 interjurisdicational riparian corridors on the Kenai Peninsula.

  • Second Annual Aerial Photography and Structure from Motion Workshop

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    3/2017 - Mark Laker co-hosted a 3-day workshop at the Kenai Refuge Visitor Center. Over twenty people participated from Federal, State, and local government agencies throughout Alaska. Attendees gave presentations on current projects and collaborated on future projects. The workshop has been a valuable networking opportunity for a fast changing and highly technical subject matter. The workshop was expanded this year to include aerial photography using small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UASs) or drones.

  • Article on tree loss and atmospheric modeling

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    3/2017 - A journal article entitled "Prototype campaign assessment of disturbance-induced tree-loss effects on surface properties for atmospheric modeling", coauthored by refuge biologists John Morton and Elizabeth Bella, was published in Ecosphere.  A companion paper was published in Landscape Ecology in 2015.

  • Alaska Climate Science Center report

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    3/2017 - Supervisory Biologist John Morton coauthored a report entitled "Five-Year External Reviews of the Eight Department of Interior Climate Science Centers: Alaska Climate Science Center".  This was the final product of an external review of the Alaska Climate Science Center that is co-located in both Anchorage (USGS) and Fairbanks (UAF).

  • Weed-Free Gravel workshop

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    3/2017 - Supervisory Biologist John Morton gave a presentation on the history and policy behind the refuge's use of certified weed-free gravel at a workshop on Weed-Free Gravel & Roads: What Contractors Need to Know.  The half-day workshop,sponsored by the Kenai Soil & Water Conservation District, was held at the Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association meeting room.

  • Kenai Peninsula Land Management workshop

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    3/2017 - Over 80 representatives from local, state and federal agencies, NGOs and Alaska Native organizations engaged in a workshop on Land Management on the Kenai Peninsula: Opportunities to Work Across Boundaries.  The all-day workshop was organized by Supervisory Biologist John Morton and an interagency steering committee. Funded by the North Pacific Landscape Conservation Cooperative, it was held at the Solid Rock Bible Camp outside of Soldotna. This Refuge Notebook article highlights some workshop outcomes.

  • Elodea surveyed in Sports Lake

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    3/2017 Refuge biologists John Morton and Todd Eskelin augered through the ice at Sports Lake to survey the elodea population. This submersed aquatic invasive plant, thought to have been eradicated from the Kenai Peninsula, was found late last month by an ADF&G biologist preparing for an ice-fishing derby. Kenai Peninsula Cooperative Weed Management Area partners are already making plans to address this issue in the spring.

  • Expansion of American Marten

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    3/2017 - Andrew Baltensperger (NPS), Supervisory Biologist John Morton, and Falk Huettmann (UAF) published an article entitled "Expansion of American marten (Martes americana) distribution in response to climate and landscape change on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska" in the Journal of Mammology.  They documented an expansion of American martens' range on the western Kenai Peninsula between 1988 and 2010.  Andy was an MS student at Colorado State University when this research was conducted.

  • An Alaska DNA Barcode Library for Terrestrial Arthropods

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    3/2017 - Derek S. Sikes (UAM), Entomologist Matt Bowser, Supervisory Biologist John M. Morton, Casey Bickford (UAM), Sarah Meierotto (UAM, UKY), and Kyndall Hildebrandt (UAM) published an article entitled "Building a DNA barcode library of Alaska’s non-marine arthropods" in the journal Genome.  Almost half (48.5%) of the known 8,277 Alaskan, non-marine-arthropod species now have associated DNA barcodes, enabling species identifications by DNA barcoding.

  • A Chaga Talk

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    2/2017 - Entomologist Matt Bowser gave a talk to the public about identifying, harvesting, processing, and uses of the chaga fungus.  The handout is available as a resource.

  • Willow Rose Galls

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    1/2017 - Entomologist Matt Bowser presented on willow rose galls at the tenth annual meeting of the Alaska Entomological Society in Fairbanks.  Audio, slides, lyrics, and guitar chords from the presentation are available.

  • Central Peninsula Garden Club Presentation

    1/2017 - Supervisory Biologist John Morton gave a presentation to the Central Peninsula Garden Club on "What’s an exotic plant in a rapidly changing climate?".  The talk was covered by our local newspaper, the Peninsula Clarion:  http://peninsulaclarion.com/news/local/2017-01-15/new-plants-appear-peninsula-climate-shifts.

  • Arthropods of Kenai Grasslands

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    1/2017 - Entomologist Matt Bowser, Supervisory Biologist John Morton, Fish and Wildlife Biologist Dawn Magness, and others published an article on arthropods and worms of grasslands in the Caribou Hills vicinity entitled "Arthropod and oligochaete assemblages from grasslands of the southern Kenai Peninsula, Alaska" in Biodiversity Data Journal where identifications were made using high-throughput DNA sequencing.

  • Articles in Fish & Wildlife News

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    11/2016 - Supervisory Biologist John Morton contributed to two articles appearing in the fall 2016 issue of Fish & Wildlife News:  "Thinking like a spruce" (page 6) and "The Kenai Mountains to Sea Partnership: a local effort to address climate change at a landscape scale" (page 14).

  • Talk on partnering with FIA

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    11/2016 - Supervisory Biologist John Morton gave a presentation entitled "Why & How the Kenai and Tetlin National Wildlife Refuges Partnered with the FIA" at a FIA stakeholders' workshop held at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The USDA Forest Inventory & Analysis program is implementing a statewide inventory of forest resources across all land ownerships. The two refuges leveraged these field efforts to collectively inventory 1,400 species!

  • Exotic trees on the Kenai

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    11/2016 - Supervisory Biologist John Morton gave a presentation entitled "What's an exotic plant in a rapidly changing climate?" to the Homer Garden Club.  Preliminary results of an inventory of non-native tree species planted on the Kenai Peninsula were discussed. Surprisingly, there are many hardwood species native to lower latitudes that are not only surviving but thriving on the peninsula including oaks, maples, linden (basswood), elm and ash.

  • Trumpeter Swan presentation

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    11/2016 - Supervisory Biologist John Morton presented "Response of the trumpeter swan population to management on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska"  at the 24th conference of the Trumpeter Swan Society in Duncan, BC, Canada.  The refuge has surveyed, researched and managed trumpeter swans since 1957.  The current breeding population is about 50 pairs.

  • Invasive plants management

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    8/2016 - Biological Technician Jen Peura and biology interns Joel Stone, Rebeckah Brassfield, Mariah McInnis, and Mariah Stephes have continued the monitoring process for elodea in Nikiski.  Bishop's Creek, Parsons Lake, and Suneva Lake have been surveyed for elodea.  None of the surveys detected elodea presence.

    At the Swanson River Oilfields, HilCorp hired Alien Species Control, LLC to treat infestations of high priority invasive plants.  The Kenai Refuge assisted Tim Stallard and Sue Salmons of Alien Species Control in the eradication and management efforts by spot applying herbicide to stop the further spread of Hieracium umbellatum (narrowleaf hawkweed) and Hieracium caespitosum (meadow hawkwed) into the Swanson River area.

    The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge's Skilak Lake, Swanson River, and Swan Lake Roads were surveyed for invasive flora and spot treated with herbicide when necessary.  Additionally, the trailheads accessible by the road system and the boat launches were also surveyed and treated.

  • Presentations at the Society for Conservation Biology North American Congress

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    7/2016 - Supervisory Biologist John Morton gave presentations at two symposia at the Society for Conservation Biology North American Congress held in Madison, Wisconsin.  "Leveraging the FIA sample frame to monitor biodiversity on the Kenai Peninsula" was co-authored with Matt Bowser as part of a 4-hr session on Multi-taxa Monitoring in North America.  "Facilitating ecological transformation on the Kenai Peninsula?  Doing nothing vs doing something" was co-authored with Dawn Magness as part of a 2-hr session on Going Beyond Building Resilience:  Conservation in a time of Climate-Driven Ecological Transformations.

  • Climate Change Practioner's Forum

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    6/2016 - Supervisory Biologist John Morton and Landscape Ecologist Dawn Magness participated in the Climate Change Practioner's Forum.  This 4-day workshop, composed of 70 or so invited USFWS employees who are engaged in climate adaptation, was held at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, WV.  The goal of the workshop was to share experiences with implementing adaptation and develop recommendations to the Directorate on how to move the agency forward.  Both Morton and Magness presented case studies of adaptation issues and approaches in Alaska, and Morton closed the session out with a presentation entitled "Thinking Like a Spruce."

  • Webinar on climate-induced ecological transformation

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    5/2016 - Supervisory Biologist John Morton presented a webinar entitled "Early evidence of climate-induced ecological transformation on the Kenai Peninsula - is there a need to respond?" through the University of Alaska Fairbank's Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy (https://accap.uaf.edu/Kenai_ecological_transformation).  The short answer is "not yet", but the evidence suggests that ongoing management (or the absence of it) has the Kenai on a poor ecological trajectory.

  • Articles on local insects

  • Aerial Photography and Structure from Motion workshop

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    3/2016 - Refuge Ecologist Mark Laker hosted an Aerial Photography and Structure from Motion (SfM) workshop at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center.   Mark and Refuge Pilot Nate Olson have pioneered new technologies in aerial photography as a low cost alternative to traditional photogrammetry, satellite, and LiDAR products.   SfM uses traditional photogrammetry algorithms and texture mapping plus object recognition to produce ortho-photographs and 3-D spatial surface data.  The goal of the workshop was to share knowledge and resources in Alaska among participants from federal and state agencies, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and non-profit organizations. The Refuge will be using aerial photography and SfM this summer to plan and monitor wildfire fuel breaks.

  • Early Responses of Kenai's Wildlife and Vegetation to Rapid Climate Change

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    3/2016 - Supervisory Biologist John Morton gave a presentation entitled "Early Responses of Kenai's Wildlife and Vegetation to Rapid Climate Change" at the 2016 Climate Change Workshop hosted by the Chugach Regional Resource Commission in Anchorage on 18 March.  Tribes from Port Graham, Eyak, Seldovia, Nanwalek, and Kenai were represented. Morton gave a version of this presentation in Homer at Climate Adaptation for Coastal Communities, a 3-day workshop (March 22-24) that was hosted by the Kachemak Bay Research Reserve and facilitated by NOAA.

  • Moose and caribou radio collars deployed

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    2-3/2016 - Between February 22 and March 14, Refuge pilot-biologist Nate Olson worked with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to deploy 30 GPS/radio collars on female moose in Game Management Units 15A (19 GPS collars) and 15B (11 GPS collars).  ADF&G biologists will use GPS collar information for two specific projects:  to assess moose body condition, productivity and movements in response to intensive management in GMU 15A; and to evaluate how moose respond physiologically and behaviorally to varying environmental temperatures.  Refuge biologists will use GPS collar information to assess moose behavior, movement, and habitat use along the Sterling Highway and within urban areas.  In addition, two VHF radio-collars were deployed on female caribou in the Kenai Mountain herd.

  • Elodea presentations in Fairbanks

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    2/2016 - Supervisory Biologist John Morton gave presentations at public meetings in Fairbanks, Nenana and North Pole on the success of eradicating elodea from the Kenai Peninsula since it was first discovered in September 2012.  The Fairbanks Soil & Water Conservation District and other partners are hoping to begin eradication of elodea from Interior Alaska this spring.

  • History of fire, settlement, and wildlife on the Kenai Peninsula

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    2/2016 - Supervisory Biologist John Morton presented a history of fire, human settlement, and the response of wildlife on the Kenai Peninsula at a 24 Feb meeting of the All Hands/All Lands partnership at the Kenai National Wildlife  Refuge Visitor Center. The goal was to provide a broader context to the fuel treatments that AHAL partners will be implementing this next year around the community of Sterling. These fuel reductions are part of an effort to strategically reduce the vulnerability of communities to wildfire so that fire managers have more "decision space" to allow wildfires to burn within the refuge.

  • KPC Showcase: Biomonitoring by molecules

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    2/2016 - Entomologist Matt Bowser gave a presentation entitled "Biomonitoring by molecules: the future of conservation" as part of Kenai Peninsula College's KPC Showcase series.

  • Alaska Climate Science Center review

    2/2016 - Supervisory Biologist John Morton traveled to Fairbanks and Anchorage as an invited member of the team that is reviewing accomplishments of the USGS Alaska Climate Science Center (CSC). The CSC maintains USGS staff in Anchorage and is partnered with staff and researchers at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.  The CSC works with scientists to provide climate information that is more relevant to agency managers, particularly the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives.

  • Talk on next generation sequencing

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    1/2016 - Entomologist Matt Bowser gave a talk entitled "Inventorying arthropods on Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge by next generation sequencing" at the annual meeting of the Alaska Entomological Society.

  • Exotic plants in a changing climate

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    1/2016 - Supervisory Biologist John Morton gave a talk entitled "What’s an Exotic Plant in a Rapidly Changing Climate?" to the Homer Native Plant Society at the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies in Homer.

  • Exotic earthworms article

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    1/2016 - Deanna Saltmarsh, Entomologist Matt Bowser, and Supervisory Biologist John Morton co-authored "Distribution and abundance of exotic earthworms within a boreal forest system in southcentral Alaska," appearing in the journal Neobiota.  The authors documented the current state of earthworm invasions on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. Deanna was an MS student at Alaska Pacific University when this research was conducted.

  • Kenai Soundscape article

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    12/2015 - Wildlife Biologist Tim Mullet and Supervisory Biologist John Morton published an article entitled "Temporal and spatial variation of a winter soundscape in south-central Alaska" in the journal Landscape Ecology in which they characterized the winter soundscape of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in terms of biophony (wildlife sounds), geophony (sounds from wind and water), and technophony (man-made sounds). Tim was a doctoral student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks when this research was conducted.

  • Butterflies of Alaska published

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    12/2015 - Entomologist Matt Bowser collaborated with Curator of Insects Derek Sikes from the University of Alaska Museum and UAF graduate student Kathryn Daly. They processed archival data from the Alaska Lepidoptera survey, producing butterfly distribution maps for the book, Butterflies of Alaska, A Field Guide, by Kenelm W. Philip and Clifford D. Ferris.

  • Elodea presentation to Borough Assembly

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    11/2015 - Supervisory Biologist John Morton presented "Eradicating Elodea from the Kenai Peninsula – success?" to the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly.  This was a progress report and thank you for funding $440K towards this effort.

  • Ecoclimate teleconnections

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    11/2015 - Ecologist Elizabeth Bella and Supervisory Biologist John Morton co-authored an article published in Landscape Ecology entitled "Toward accounting for ecoclimate teleconnections: intra- and inter-continental consequences of altered energy balance after vegetation change".

  • Elodea presentation at Invasive Species Workshop

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    10/2015 - Supervisory Biologist John Morton gave a presentation at the Alaska Invasive Species Workshop in Juneau entitled "Responding to Elodea: What are the lessons learned?"

  • Kenai brown bear presentation at Pratt Museum

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    10/2015 - Supervisory Biologist John Morton presented "How many brown bears are on the Kenai Peninsula?" as the inaugural talk in a series on brown bear ecology and management at the Pratt Museum in Homer.

  • Kenai brown bear population estimate published

  • Aerial photogrammetry using Structure from Motion

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    10/2015 - Ecologist Mark Laker has made significant progress in the pioneering field of aerial photogrammetry using Structure from Motion technology, specifically developing an efficient and high quality photometric system and processing workflow.  Working with Refuge Pilot Nate Olson, Laker photographed over 300,000 acres of KENWR lands (10-13 cents per acre!) and created orthophotographs and digital elevation models.  He collaborated with the Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys (ADGGS) including development of an MOU that allows data to be publicly available on the ADGGS website.  He also worked with staff at Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve to assess willow browse quality through analysis of willow height derived from this photogrammetric process.  He delivered a presentation at the R7 Regional Biologist meeting and conducted a WebEx presentation for a broader USFWS audience on the capabilities of the technology and what R7 could do to expand the capacity.

  • Reframing Climate Change Adaptation

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    10/2015 - Dylan Beach, a USFWS Directorate Fellow, interviewed eight land management agencies and tribal organizations, representing 80% of the landbase on the Kenai Peninsula, during an 11-week internship that was focused on next steps to move local climate adaptation forward.  In Reframing Climate Change Adaptation, a report of what was learned from interviewees, Beach recommends that the focus step away from climate change and, instead, incorporate climate change into a broader discussion of interjurisdictional conservation issues on the Kenai Peninsula.

  • Funny River Fire weeds

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    10/2015 - In summer 2014 we surveyed for exotic plants within the 2014 Funny River Fire, finding a few species that are expanding into the burn. See the report and a project on iNaturalist.org.

  • Serving the Northwest Boreal LCC

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    9/2015 - From June-September 2015, Dawn Magness served as acting Science Coordinator for the Northwest Boreal Landscape Conservation Cooperative during which time she facilitated the steering committee meeting in Whitehorse, Canada; set up the NWBLCC Community on ScienceBase; and served as a lead editor of the NWBLCC synthesis book, in which Magness is also a contributing author on three chapters, and Entomologist Matt Bowser and Supervisory Biologist John Morton have both coauthored two chapters.

  • Article in Conservation Letters

  • An Alaska DNA barcode library

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    8/2015 - Entomologist Matt Bowser gave a presentation entitled "A regional DNA barcode library for landscape-scale monitoring of multi-taxa assemblages" at the 6th International Barcode of Life conference in Guelph, Ontario.

  • Modifications to aerial snow markers

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    8/2015 Maintenance and modifications were done to snow bench markers previously deployed on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge between June and August 2015.  Refuge Pilot-Biologist Nate Olson coordinated the effort with assistance from Gary Titus and Jen Archis.  Of the 23 existing snow bench markers deployed in the field, 10 were visited by helicopter and repaired or removed.  A total of 21 snow markers will be in service for the 2015-2016 season.  KENWR snow bench marker data will now be included in the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s national database of Snotel, Snowcourse, and aerial snow marker data.  NRCS uses these data to predict spring water quantities held in snowpack and to predict spring runoff conditions.

  • Spruce/grassland dynamics

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    7/2015 - KENWR staff (Morton, Bowser, Magness, Okuly) conducted an extensive survey of the southern Kenai Peninsula looking for evidence that Calamagrostis-dominated grasslands were being established in the aftermath of the spruce bark beetle outbreak that killed 4 million acres of spruce in southcentral Alaska during the late 1980s and 1990s.  Although white and Lutz spruce forest has been slow to regenerate, most areas visited showed remnant seed trees and new seedlings.  Collaborating with Diana Wolf, a geneticist at the UAF Institute for Arctic Biology, samples from both spruce seedlings and seed trees were collected for taxonomic identification.  However, a contiguous 20,000-40,000 acre polygon was delineated, coinciding with part of the 2007 Caribou Hills Fire, in which there was no evidence of forest regeneration and, by all signs, seems to be a clear case of climate-driven deforestation.   This polygon is likely to increase with the more frequent grassland fires during spring in recent years, and will warrant continued and more frequent monitoring.

  • Kenai Mountains to Sea presentation

    7/2015 - Supervisory Biologist John Morton presented "Kenai Mountains to Sea:  Maintaining landscape connectivity on the rapidly changing Kenai Peninsula" to a meeting of regional and national coordinators of the USFWS Partners for Fish & Wildlife and Coastal Programs in Homer.

  • Card Street Fire Suppression Repair Plan

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    7/2015 - Todd Eskelin worked on the 2015 Card Street Fire as the Resource Advisor.  During the initial attack phase of the fire, Eskelin worked with the incident management team to identify key resources on KENWR.  Once fire activity diminished, Eskelin surveyed the dozer lines and other collateral damage from fire-fighting on KENWR to prepare the Card Street Fire Suppression Repair Plan for approval and implementation by state and federal agency managers. To date, several miles of dozer line have been rehabilitated..

  • Ecological restoration in wilderness

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    6/2015 - John Morton and Dawn Magness worked with Dr. Beth Hahn from the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Institute (Missoula, MT) to use Kenai NWR as a pilot test for the draft interagency Evaluation framework for proposed ecological restoration in wilderness.  Hahn had an opportunity to fly over large areas of  Kenai Wilderness that have been altered in recent decades by climate-driven changes in ecological processes including spruce bark beetle and wildfires.

  • Webinar on Climate Change Adaptation Strategy

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    6/2015 - Dr. Dawn Magness presented an Alaska Landscape Conservation Cooperative Webinar titled "Connecting the Alaskan conservation estate as a climate change adaptation strategy." Dawn’s work uses geodiversity to design connectivity between National Parks and National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska to allow species movement in a changing climate.

  • National Adaptation Forum: Ecological Transformation: Is it Time for a New Conservation Ethic

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    5/2015 - Dr. Dawn Magness organized a working group, Ecological Transformation: Is it Time for a New Conservation Ethic”, at the 2015 National Adaptation Forum (http://nationaladaptationforum.org) in St. Louis, Missouri. Climate change is ongoing and all indications are for continuing and accelerating change. Species, ecosystems, and other resources are already responding to changing conditions, and future patterns and processes on the landscape will look different from the past in many protected areas. However, much adaptation work is focused on resisting change and maintaining past conditions. The workshop was structured around three themes: 1) Barriers to moving from resisting or passively accepting change to actively and consciously shaping the future; 2) How to move forward? What does it take to shape change?; and 3) What should be the new conservation ethics in a changing world? Dr. John Morton also a presented at this workshop.

  • Kenai Climate Conference and Kenai Change

    3/2015 - Refuge biologists John Morton, Elizabeth Bella and Dawn Magness helped organize a grassroots conference on climate change adaptation hosted by the League of Women Voters at the Kenai Peninsula College.  Morton presented "Early responses of Kenai’s wildlife and vegetation to rapid climate change."  This project has evolved into a continuing effort to network climate adaption on the Kenai Peninsula (http://kenaichange.org/).

  • Articles on local insects

  • Presentations at the Kachemak Bay Science Conference

  • Earthworm presentation at Alaska sustainable agriculture conference

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    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

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    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).

  • Presentation at the Alaska Forum on the Environment

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    2/2015 - Ecologist Elizabeth Bella gave a talk entitled Elodea in Southcentral Alaska: Early Detection and Rapid Response in Action for the invasive species session.

  • Presentation at the Homer Native Plant Society Meeting

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    2/2015 - Ecologist Elizabeth Bella presented Fire History and Wildlife Habitat on the Kenai Peninsula: An Ecological Perspective for the Homer Native Plant Society’s February meeting in Homer, AK.

  • 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

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    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

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    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.

  • Snowmobile noise and activity thesis

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    12/2014 - Pathways Student Tim Mullet received his doctorate in Wildlife Biology from the University of Alaska Fairbanks after successfully defending his dissertation entitled "Effects of snowmobile noise and activity in a boreal ecosystem in southcentral Alaska".  Dr. Mullet now works as the Science Liaison at the USFWS Alabama Ecological Services Field Office.

  • Bioinvasions in a Changing World

  • Antarctica and the Arctic Circle Publication

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    11/2014 - Elizabeth Bella was a contributing author to Antarctica and the Arctic Circle: A Geographic Encyclopedia of the Earth's Polar Regions. ABC-CLIO, CA, USA.

  • Presentation at the Homer Native Plant Society Meeting

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    11/2014 - Ecologist Elizabeth Bella was the keynote speaker at the Kenai Peninsula Historical Society’s annual meeting in Kasilof, AK. She gave a talk entitled Fire History and Wildlife Habitat on the Kenai Peninsula: An Ecological Perspective.

  • Aleutian Island Vegetation Survey

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    11/2014 - Ecologist Elizabeth Bella participated in an invasive plant, botany, and vegetation mapping survey on several Aleutian Islands with the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge for a cattle study in July, 2014, and completed a vegetation report for the survey.

  • Invasion Modeling Publication

  • Kenai Lowland Caribou herd update

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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 http://www.fws.gov/refuge/Kenai/what_we_do/resource_management/caribou.html.

  • Presentation at interior Alaska FIA workshop

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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

  • Kenai brown bear population estimate released

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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