Skip Navigation

Biology News

  • Sports Lake elodea eradication underway


    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:

    Image credit: Ben Boettger/Peninsula Clarion

  • Climate change vulnerability chapters


    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


    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


    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


    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 mounain hemlocks


    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:

  • 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:

  • Presentation on 100 years of Kenai birding


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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.

  • Article on tree loss and atmospheric modeling


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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:

  • Arthropods of Kenai Grasslands


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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 (  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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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

  • Serving the Northwest Boreal LCC


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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 ( 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 (

  • 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).

  • Presentation at the Alaska Forum on the Environment


    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


    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


    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.

  • Snowmobile noise and activity thesis


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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: May 18, 2017
Return to main navigation