Science

A Compton tortoiseshell butterfly pauses between flights in Two Rivers resident Rod Boyce’s garage in January 2023. Photo by Rod Boyce.
A Compton tortoiseshell butterfly pauses between flights in Two Rivers resident Rod Boyce’s garage in January 2023. Photo by Rod Boyce.
Bog laurel plants are toxic to mammals; pollinating bees that feed on the pollen make toxic honey. (Courtesy Photo / Bob Armstrong)

On the Trails: A green world

Five decades ago, some well-known ecologists looked around and noted that their terrestrial world was very green. Why didn’t herbivores demolish the greenery? The observers… Continue reading

Bog laurel plants are toxic to mammals; pollinating bees that feed on the pollen make toxic honey. (Courtesy Photo / Bob Armstrong)
An Alaska blackfish that once lived in a tank at the Fairbanks office of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. (Courtesy Photo / Ned Rozell)
An Alaska blackfish that once lived in a tank at the Fairbanks office of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. (Courtesy Photo / Ned Rozell)
A deer eats alder leaves (Courtesy Photo / Bob Armstrong)

On the Trails: Nitrogen — an essential element

It’s involved with almost all aspects of life.

A deer eats alder leaves (Courtesy Photo / Bob Armstrong)
Courtesy Photos / Dan Joling
Dan Joling of Anchorage captured these images of the full moon over Alaska’s largest city on Jan. 6, 2023.

Alaska Science Forum: Magnetic declination and finding the moon

Dan Joling of Anchorage was set to photograph the full moon rising over the Port of Anchorage on Jan. 6, 2023. His research told him… Continue reading

Courtesy Photos / Dan Joling
Dan Joling of Anchorage captured these images of the full moon over Alaska’s largest city on Jan. 6, 2023.
A dipper searches for insects in a log jam, underwater. (Courtesy Photo / Bob Armstrong)
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On the Trails: The afterlife of trees

Dead wood is an important basis for many new uses.

A dipper searches for insects in a log jam, underwater. (Courtesy Photo / Bob Armstrong)
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Visitors take images of Mendenhall Glacier near Juneau in summer 2022 from inside the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. (Courtesy Photo / Ned Rozell)

Alaska Science Forum: Alaska’s small glaciers are on the way out

Even optimistic projections show half of glaciers gone by end of century.

Visitors take images of Mendenhall Glacier near Juneau in summer 2022 from inside the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. (Courtesy Photo / Ned Rozell)
A trail cam photo shows a beaver emerging from its snowy lodge and went foraging for branches in December (Courtesy Photo / Jos Bakker)
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Mild temperatures and busy beavers

I noticed two uncommon things that this beaver did…

A trail cam photo shows a beaver emerging from its snowy lodge and went foraging for branches in December (Courtesy Photo / Jos Bakker)
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A wood frog pauses in the forest just off the Yukon River near the mouth of the Nation River. (Courtesy Photo / Ned Rozell)
A wood frog pauses in the forest just off the Yukon River near the mouth of the Nation River. (Courtesy Photo / Ned Rozell)
This photo shows a so-called "mummy berry." "The best-studied type of Monilinia attacks a blueberry species that is native to eastern North America but is also widely cultivated (e.g., in Pacific Northwest and British Colubmia)." writes Mary F. Willson. "When Monilinia vaccinii-corymbosi infests Vaccinium corymbosum, the vegetative parts are blighted and the fruits become hard, wizened 'mummy berries.'" (Courtesy Photo / Matt Goff, sitkanature.org/photojournal)

On the Trails: Climate warming and disease spread

The effects of climate change are being felt far and wide.

This photo shows a so-called "mummy berry." "The best-studied type of Monilinia attacks a blueberry species that is native to eastern North America but is also widely cultivated (e.g., in Pacific Northwest and British Colubmia)." writes Mary F. Willson. "When Monilinia vaccinii-corymbosi infests Vaccinium corymbosum, the vegetative parts are blighted and the fruits become hard, wizened 'mummy berries.'" (Courtesy Photo / Matt Goff, sitkanature.org/photojournal)
William Dall’s sketch of the mouth of what is now called the Melozitna River, which enters the Yukon River near the village of Ruby, from “Alaska and its Resources.”

Alaska Science Forum: A scientist’s view of Alaska, 150 years ago

One year before Alaska became part of America, 21-year old William Dall ascended the Yukon River on a sled, pulled by dogs. The man who… Continue reading

William Dall’s sketch of the mouth of what is now called the Melozitna River, which enters the Yukon River near the village of Ruby, from “Alaska and its Resources.”
A black-capped chickadee pecks at a frozen turkey carcass in Fairbanks. (Courtesy Photo / Ned Rozell)

Finding a midwinter night’s roost

During the darkest days of Alaska’s winter, black-capped chickadees stuff themselves with enough seeds and frozen insects to survive 18-hour nights. Where chickadees spent those… Continue reading

A black-capped chickadee pecks at a frozen turkey carcass in Fairbanks. (Courtesy Photo / Ned Rozell)
This photo available under a Creative Commons license shows a great bustard. These birds, especially the males, selectively eat blister beetles that contain toxic cantharidin, but because the toxin is lethal to the birds except at very low doses, only one or two at a time. This toxin is known, from in vitro experiments in the lab, to kill fungi, round worms, and bacteria. (Francesco Veronesi / Flickr)

On the Trails: Self-medication by many animals

Examples come from many kinds of critters.

This photo available under a Creative Commons license shows a great bustard. These birds, especially the males, selectively eat blister beetles that contain toxic cantharidin, but because the toxin is lethal to the birds except at very low doses, only one or two at a time. This toxin is known, from in vitro experiments in the lab, to kill fungi, round worms, and bacteria. (Francesco Veronesi / Flickr)
Courtesy Photo / JR Ancheta, UAF 
Matthew Wooller kneels in the mammoth tusk collection at the University of Alaska Museum of the North in 2021. Wooller is leading the museum’s Adopt a Mammoth program, which will date and identify specimens at the museum.

UAF partners with Alaska students for a mammoth of a project

“De-extinction” company adopts fossils for Alaska school districts.

Courtesy Photo / JR Ancheta, UAF 
Matthew Wooller kneels in the mammoth tusk collection at the University of Alaska Museum of the North in 2021. Wooller is leading the museum’s Adopt a Mammoth program, which will date and identify specimens at the museum.
Wilson's warblers are sometimes seen in early winter (Courtesy Photo / Gus van Vliet photo)

On the Trails: Surviving winter is no small feat

Here’s how some diminutive vertebrates do it.

Wilson's warblers are sometimes seen in early winter (Courtesy Photo / Gus van Vliet photo)
he Alaska Range sits beneath a December sunrise as seen from the UAF campus. (Courtesy Photo / Ned Rozell)

Alaska Science Forum: The dark season turns on winter solstice

One winter day not long ago, a reporter from the Sacramento Bee called. She had read a story I wrote about life at 40 below… Continue reading

he Alaska Range sits beneath a December sunrise as seen from the UAF campus. (Courtesy Photo / Ned Rozell)
Harbor seals have a face full of whiskers, which the seals use to follow hydrodynamic wakes left by prey fish; even a blind seal can track a fish this way, discriminating victims by size and shape and direction of movement.  (Courtesy Photo / Jos Bakker)

On the Trails: The sense of touch

Touch is a mechanical sense, detecting physical stimuli such as pressure, texture, stretch, vibrations and flow. Touch receptors come in a variety of forms —… Continue reading

Harbor seals have a face full of whiskers, which the seals use to follow hydrodynamic wakes left by prey fish; even a blind seal can track a fish this way, discriminating victims by size and shape and direction of movement.  (Courtesy Photo / Jos Bakker)
Alan Alda, center, was host of PBS’s “Scientific American Frontiers” when he visited Alaska in 2004. To his right is By Valentine, who worked in the glaciers lab at the Geophysical Institute with glaciologist Keith Echelmeyer (on Alda’s left). Echelmeyer died of brain cancer six years after Alda’s visit. (Courtesy Photo / Ned Rozell, enhanced 18 years later by JR Ancheta)

Alaska Science Forum: Alan Alda and the Alaska messengers

Climate change in the Arctic and Alaska is substantial; we can see signals it has arrived…”

Alan Alda, center, was host of PBS’s “Scientific American Frontiers” when he visited Alaska in 2004. To his right is By Valentine, who worked in the glaciers lab at the Geophysical Institute with glaciologist Keith Echelmeyer (on Alda’s left). Echelmeyer died of brain cancer six years after Alda’s visit. (Courtesy Photo / Ned Rozell, enhanced 18 years later by JR Ancheta)
George Argus collects samples of willow shrubs on a slope near the town of McCarthy, Alaska in 1955. (Courtesy Photo / Neil Davis)

Alaska Science Forum: A man of the mountain, and its willows

When you are a young boy growing up in Brooklyn in the 1930s, sniffing warm pastries your father has placed in the window of his… Continue reading

George Argus collects samples of willow shrubs on a slope near the town of McCarthy, Alaska in 1955. (Courtesy Photo / Neil Davis)
Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire 
Mike Bucy keeps the temp while he conducts local composer and musician Ben Holtz’s piece, Atmosphere with Radio Occultation, during Con Brio Chamber Series’ Tuesday evening rehearsal.

Climate change concern crescendoes with collaborative concert

It’s a collaboration between local scientists, composers and musicians

Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire 
Mike Bucy keeps the temp while he conducts local composer and musician Ben Holtz’s piece, Atmosphere with Radio Occultation, during Con Brio Chamber Series’ Tuesday evening rehearsal.