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University of Alaska Fairbanks est. 1917

#biology

“In 2012, biologists at Denali National Park and Preserve noted a drop in wolf sightings following the death of a breeding female from a pack that lived along the Denali Park Road. This was one of several instances where the death of an individual wolf from legal trapping or hunting sparked widespread attention in recent years.
“This isn’t the first time we have noticed that the loss of a breeding wolf can affect the fate of the pack. We thought it would be valuable to systematically look at what happens to the pack and population following the death of a breeder,” said author Bridget Borg, a University of Alaska Fairbanks biology graduate student and National Park Service biologist.” [X]

In 2012, biologists at Denali National Park and Preserve noted a drop in wolf sightings following the death of a breeding female from a pack that lived along the Denali Park Road. This was one of several instances where the death of an individual wolf from legal trapping or hunting sparked widespread attention in recent years.

“This isn’t the first time we have noticed that the loss of a breeding wolf can affect the fate of the pack. We thought it would be valuable to systematically look at what happens to the pack and population following the death of a breeder,” said author Bridget Borg, a University of Alaska Fairbanks biology graduate student and National Park Service biologist.” [X]

I am Tim Mullet, a Ph.D. Candidate in the Biology and Wildlife Department at UAF working under Falk Huettmann. My research focus is to determine how snowmachine activity affects wildlife, the soundscape, and vegetation in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.
These findings are helpful for wildlife managers to make informed decisions when dealing with human disturbance and natural resources. Winter field seasons are cold, dark, and long.
Much of my field work lasts from November to April. However, the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge offers spectacular landscapes that make days of data collection in 20 below temperatures worth it. [X]

I am Tim Mullet, a Ph.D. Candidate in the Biology and Wildlife Department at UAF working under Falk Huettmann. My research focus is to determine how snowmachine activity affects wildlife, the soundscape, and vegetation in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.

These findings are helpful for wildlife managers to make informed decisions when dealing with human disturbance and natural resources. Winter field seasons are cold, dark, and long.

Much of my field work lasts from November to April. However, the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge offers spectacular landscapes that make days of data collection in 20 below temperatures worth it. [X]

A team led by University of Alaska Fairbanks scientists has been awarded a $1.7 million National Science Foundation grant to study long-term and ongoing population trends in the Pacific walrus.
The project brings together scientists from the U.S. and Canada with expertise in genetics, archeology, chemistry, ecology and ethnohistory to study the marine mammals, whose sea ice habitat has been markedly receding in recent years. Pacific walruses are critical to subsistence in many coastal villages.
“Changes in arctic waters and sea ice coverage over the past few years appear to have contributed to a decrease in walrus population,” said lead researcher Nicole Misarti of the UAF Institute of Northern Engineering. “This study combines diverse expertise and resources from across Alaska and beyond and will give us a far more expansive and detailed picture of the Pacific walrus and its adaptability than has been possible up until now.” [X]

A team led by University of Alaska Fairbanks scientists has been awarded a $1.7 million National Science Foundation grant to study long-term and ongoing population trends in the Pacific walrus.

The project brings together scientists from the U.S. and Canada with expertise in genetics, archeology, chemistry, ecology and ethnohistory to study the marine mammals, whose sea ice habitat has been markedly receding in recent years. Pacific walruses are critical to subsistence in many coastal villages.

“Changes in arctic waters and sea ice coverage over the past few years appear to have contributed to a decrease in walrus population,” said lead researcher Nicole Misarti of the UAF Institute of Northern Engineering. “This study combines diverse expertise and resources from across Alaska and beyond and will give us a far more expansive and detailed picture of the Pacific walrus and its adaptability than has been possible up until now.” [X]

oosik:

Effie the Woolly Mammoth: University of Alaska Museum of the North
The Discovery
In August of 1948, an unusual fossil was washed out of the much at a gold mine located on Fairbanks Creek, north of Fairbanks. It was the head, foreleg, and shoulder of a very young Pleistocene mammoth. It was nicknamed “Effie,” after the Fairbanks Exploration (FE) branch of the United States Smelting, Refining, & Mining Company. A carbon 14 date from Effie’s skin indicated that it died approximately 21,300 years ago.
Scientific Importance
The preservation of the skin, muscles, and connective tissue makes Effie the best preserved mammoth to be found in North America. These remains have furnished comparative material for the identification of blood stains on Alaskan stone artifacts that were used to kill and/or butcher mammoths. In addition, DNA analysis from Effie’s tissue will help us understand to what extent the breeding lines of mammoth have diverged from a common ancestor.
Preservation
Effie was in several parts when discovered. The mummy was the carefully embalmed, and the tears stitched together by University of Alaska scientists. The tearing was probably due to scavenging before burial. Effie would have been eaten almost entirely because the bones of such a young animal are soft and poorly ossified. The tip of the trunk was missing because it was eaten off. It is difficult to estimate the season of death because Effie lacked teeth, hair, and internal organs. Burial would have taken place during spring when snow was melting or possibly after a rare summer thunderstorm. It would have taken very little silt to bury this mammoth because it was so small. The skull and the rest of the skin were probably dragged away and not covered by silt, or the miners did not recognize the remains as they were washed away.
Age and the Circumstances of Death
Effie’s size is the only clue to its age. An elephant in its first year averages about a meter at the shoulder, and based on this, Effie probably died during its first year. Elephants lose about half of their young during the first couple of years, and this probably held true for mammoths as well. Few elephant calves are actually killed by predators as the mother is too good a protector. However, since the female has to nurse the calf through its first winter, her condition is critical. Any female who produces less than optimum amounts and quality of milk is likely to lose her young. In this case, the young would be more likely to catch some disease, have an accident, or simply starve.
Conclusion
Effie was probably not killed by a predator, but died from malnutrition or an accident. The carcass would have been protected by the mother for a few days, then abandoned. Scavengers such as wolves, wolverines, or lions would have moved in, tearing through the tough skin to get to the other, more choice parts. Effie’s death was not unusual. It was a natural and common part of the mammoth’s life history. The death of such a young animal had little impact on the mammoth population as the mother soon came into estrous and had another young a couple of years later. The gestation period of elephants is about 22 months, a trait fairly constant in proboscideans. Mammoths probably had similar gestation periods.

alaskamuseum!

oosik:

Effie the Woolly Mammoth: University of Alaska Museum of the North

The Discovery

In August of 1948, an unusual fossil was washed out of the much at a gold mine located on Fairbanks Creek, north of Fairbanks. It was the head, foreleg, and shoulder of a very young Pleistocene mammoth. It was nicknamed “Effie,” after the Fairbanks Exploration (FE) branch of the United States Smelting, Refining, & Mining Company. A carbon 14 date from Effie’s skin indicated that it died approximately 21,300 years ago.

Scientific Importance

The preservation of the skin, muscles, and connective tissue makes Effie the best preserved mammoth to be found in North America. These remains have furnished comparative material for the identification of blood stains on Alaskan stone artifacts that were used to kill and/or butcher mammoths. In addition, DNA analysis from Effie’s tissue will help us understand to what extent the breeding lines of mammoth have diverged from a common ancestor.

Preservation

Effie was in several parts when discovered. The mummy was the carefully embalmed, and the tears stitched together by University of Alaska scientists. The tearing was probably due to scavenging before burial. Effie would have been eaten almost entirely because the bones of such a young animal are soft and poorly ossified. The tip of the trunk was missing because it was eaten off. It is difficult to estimate the season of death because Effie lacked teeth, hair, and internal organs. Burial would have taken place during spring when snow was melting or possibly after a rare summer thunderstorm. It would have taken very little silt to bury this mammoth because it was so small. The skull and the rest of the skin were probably dragged away and not covered by silt, or the miners did not recognize the remains as they were washed away.

Age and the Circumstances of Death

Effie’s size is the only clue to its age. An elephant in its first year averages about a meter at the shoulder, and based on this, Effie probably died during its first year. Elephants lose about half of their young during the first couple of years, and this probably held true for mammoths as well. Few elephant calves are actually killed by predators as the mother is too good a protector. However, since the female has to nurse the calf through its first winter, her condition is critical. Any female who produces less than optimum amounts and quality of milk is likely to lose her young. In this case, the young would be more likely to catch some disease, have an accident, or simply starve.

Conclusion

Effie was probably not killed by a predator, but died from malnutrition or an accident. The carcass would have been protected by the mother for a few days, then abandoned. Scavengers such as wolves, wolverines, or lions would have moved in, tearing through the tough skin to get to the other, more choice parts. Effie’s death was not unusual. It was a natural and common part of the mammoth’s life history. The death of such a young animal had little impact on the mammoth population as the mother soon came into estrous and had another young a couple of years later. The gestation period of elephants is about 22 months, a trait fairly constant in proboscideans. Mammoths probably had similar gestation periods.

alaskamuseum!

From the Idaho Vitualization Laboratory:
The Bowhead whale, UAM-15988, is all articulated. Please note that the tail is mostly gone as is the flipper. The spine looks really odd because the damage inflicted to the spinous processes of the last four Thoracic and first Lumbar vertebra. We will be adding in elements from a second Bowhead to fill out the flipper, and manufacturing the missing vertebra. Eventually this will be animated by Hannah Foss at the University of Alaska Museum of the North for inclusion in their upcoming film about Bowhead whales. x

From the Idaho Vitualization Laboratory:

The Bowhead whale, UAM-15988, is all articulated. Please note that the tail is mostly gone as is the flipper. The spine looks really odd because the damage inflicted to the spinous processes of the last four Thoracic and first Lumbar vertebra. 

We will be adding in elements from a second Bowhead to fill out the flipper, and manufacturing the missing vertebra. 

Eventually this will be animated by Hannah Foss at the University of Alaska Museum of the North for inclusion in their upcoming film about Bowhead whales. x