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Microtus richardsoni, the water vole, was listed as a sensitive species in Region 2 of the USDA Forest Service in 1994. Historical records indicate water voles were found in the Big Horn Mountains, but little was known about their current status. The purpose of this study was to locate water voles in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming, develop a habitat profile, and evaluate the extent to which livestock grazing affects them. Accessible creeks with habitat requirements for water voles were surveyed. Water voles were not captured below 2440 m. Grazed and ungrazed sites occupied by water voles were matched and analyzed for percent plant cover, dry weight biomass, riparian classification, mean stream depth, channel...
Historical and geologic records may be used to enhance magnitude estimates for extreme floods along mountain channels, as demonstrated in this study from the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. Historical photographs and local newspaper accounts from the October 1911 flood indicate the likely extent of flooding and damage. A checklist designed to organize and numerically score evidence of flooding was used in 15 field reconnaissance surveys in the upper Animas River valley of southwestern Colorado. Step-backwater flow modeling estimated the discharges necessary to create longitudinal flood bars observed at 6 additional field sites. According to these analyses, maximum unit discharge peaks at approximately 1.3 m3 s-1...
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Reactive nitrogen (Nr) from anthropogenic sources has been altering ecosystem function in lakes of the Rocky Mountains, other regions of western North America, and the Arctic over recent decades. The response of biota in shallow lakes to atmospheric deposition of Nr, however, has not been considered. Benthic algae are dominant in shallow, high-elevation lakes and are less sensitive to nutrient inputs than planktonic algae. Because the benthos is typically more nutrient rich than the water column, shallow lakes are not expected to show evidence of anthropogenic Nr. In this study, we assessed sedimentary evidence for regional Nr deposition, sediment chronology, and the nature of algal community response in five shallow,...
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Chemical weathering in soils has not been studied extensively in high-latitude regions. Loess sequences with modern soils and paleosols are present in much of subarctic Alaska, and allow an assessment of present and past chemical weathering. Five sections were studied in detail in the Fairbanks, Alaska, area. Paleosols likely date to mid-Pleistocene interglacials, the last interglacial, and early-to-mid-Wisconsin interstadiale. Ratios of mobile (Na, Ca, Mg, Si) to immobile (Ti or Zr) elements indicate that modern soils and most interstadial and interglacial paleosols are characterized by significant chemical weathering. Na2O/TiO2 is lower in modern soils and most paleosols compared to parent loess, indicating depletion...
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We conducted two experiments to determine the activity of and factors which control periphyton during winter in Stevensville Brook, Vermont. The first experiment during winter/spring 1994 examined the effect of a 300 to 450% difference in light and doubling of flow (low and high light, slow and fast flow) on periphyton chlorophyll a (chl a) and ash-free dry mass (AFDM) from stream rocks and artificial substrata. A second experiment was performed to determine whether periphyton was nitrogen or phosphorus limited. In addition, stream water was sampled during fall/winter 1994/95 for nitrate (NO3), ammonia (NH4), soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP), and total phosphorus (TP) to determine the availability of nutrients...
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The West Mountains, west-central Idaho, were deglaciated before ca. 11,500 BP, as indicated by radiocarbon ages and Glacier Peak tephra, at several sites in cirques. Pollen analysis of a sediment core, and plant macrofossils from sediments recovered from the cirque at the head of Van Wyck Creek, indicate that a closed spruce-pine forest surrounded the site from ca. 11,500 to 9800 BP. Early in this period, spruce (probably krummholz) was already growing near the present-day altitudinal limit of large upright spruce. Hence, the climate during this period was significantly warmer than before 11,500 BP. Between ca. 9800 and 3200 BP the climate was warmer and drier than present. Pollen data indicate that from ca. 9300...
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Carbon dynamics of high-latitude regions are an important and highly uncertain component of global carbon budgets, and efforts to constrain estimates of soil-atmosphere carbon exchange in these regions are contingent on accurate representations of spatial and temporal variability in carbon fluxes. This study explores spatial and temporal variability in soilatmosphere carbon dynamics at both fine and coarse spatial scales in a high-elevation, permafrost-dominated boreal black spruce forest. We evaluate the importance of landscape-level investigations of soil-atmosphere carbon dynamics by characterizing seasonal trends in soil-atmosphere carbon exchange, describing soil temperature-moisture-respiration relations,...
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Kasatochi volcano, an island volcano in the Aleutian chain, erupted on 7-8 August 2008. The resulting ash and pyroclastic flows blanketed the island, covering terrestrial habitats. We surveyed the marine environment surrounding Kasatochi Island in June and July of 2009 to document changes in abundance or distribution of nutrients, fish, and marine birds near the island when compared to patterns observed on earlier surveys conducted in 1996 and 2003. Analysis of SeaWiFS satellite imagery indicated that a large chlorophyll-a anomaly may have been the result of ash fertilization during the eruption. We found no evidence of continuing marine fertilization from terrestrial runoff 10 months after the eruption. At-sea...
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Kasatochi Island, the subaerial portion of a small volcano in the western Aleutian volcanic arc, erupted on 7-8 August 2008. Pyroclastic flows and surges swept the island repeatedly and buried most of it and the near-shore zone in decimeters to tens of meters of deposits. Several key seabird rookeries in taluses were rendered useless. The eruption lasted for about 24 hours and included two initial explosive pulses and pauses over a 6-hr period that produced ash-poor eruption clouds, a 10-hr period of continuous ash-rich emissions initiated by an explosive pulse and punctuated by two others, and a final 8-hr period of waning ash emissions. The deposits of the eruption include a basal muddy tephra that probably reflects...
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We derived and implemented two spatial models of May snow water equivalent (SWE) at Lee Ridge in Glacier National Park, Montana. We used the models to test the hypothesis that vegetation structure is a control on snow redistribution at the alpine treeline ecotone (ATE). The statistical models were derived using stepwise and "best" subsets regression techniques. The first model was derived from field measurements of SWE, topography, and vegetation taken at 27 sample points. The second model was derived using GIS-based measures of topography and vegetation. Both the field- (R² = 0.93) and GIS-based models (R² = 0.69) of May SWE included the following variables: site type (based on vegetation), elevation, maximum...
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This study proposes a new hypothesis: Debris-covered glaciers served as Pleistocene biological refugia. This is based on detailed studies of vascular plant growth on six debris-mantled glaciers, literally around the world, as well as many casual observations also across the globe. We find that such glaciers are quite common and are distributed globally. Using Carbon Glacier, Mount Rainier, U.S.A., as a type locality and case study, we show aspects of the floristic and structural diversity as well as spatial patterns of plant growth on the glacier surface. Migration strategies, root characteristics, and origin and dispersal strategies for vascular plant species are documented. Also reported are special microclimatic...
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Using sequential aerial photography, we identified changes in the spatial distribution of subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa) habitat at the alpine treeline ecotone. Six 40-ha study sites in the McDonald Creek drainage of Glacier National Park contained subalpine fir forests that graded into alpine tundra. Over a 46-yr period, altitudinal changes in the location of alpine treeline ecotone were not observed. However, over this 46-yr period the area of krummholz, patch-forest, and continuous canopy forest increased by 3.4%, and tree density increased within existing patches of krummholz and patch-forest. Change in subalpine fir vegetation patterns within 100 m of trails was also compared to areas without trails. Within...
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Analysis of satellite images of Kasatochi volcano and field studies in 2008 and 2009 have shown that within about one year of the 78 August 2008 eruption, significant geomorphic changes associated with surface and coastal erosion have occurred. Gully erosion has removed 300,000 to 600,000 m3 of mostly fine-grained volcanic sediment from the flanks of the volcano and much of this has reached the ocean. Sediment yield estimates from two representative drainage basins on the south and west flanks of the volcano, with drainage areas of 0.7 and 0.5 km2, are about 104 m3 km-2 yr-1 and are comparable to sediment yields documented at other volcanoes affected by recent eruptive activity. Estimates of the retreat of coastal...
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Watersheds draining the Arctic Coastal Plain (ACP) of Alaska are dominated by permafrost and snowmelt runoff that create abundant surface storage in the form of lakes, wetlands, and beaded streams. These surface water elements compose complex drainage networks that affect aquatic ecosystem connectivity and hydrologic behavior. The 4676 km2 Fish Creek drainage basin is composed of three watersheds that represent a gradient of the ACP landscape with varying extents of eolian, lacustrine, and fluvial landforms. In each watershed, we analyzed 2.5-m-resolution aerial photography, a 5-m digital elevation model, and river gauging and climate records to better understand ACP watershed structure and processes. We show that...
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We collected ground-penetrating radar data at 10 sites along the Kuparuk River and its main tributary, the Toolik River, to detect unfrozen water beneath river ice. We used 250 MHz and 500 MHz antennas to image both the ice-water interface and the river channel in late April 2001, when daily high temperatures were consistently freezing and river ice had attained its maximum seasonal thickness. The presence of water below the river ice appears as a strong, horizontal reflection observed in the radar data and is confirmed by drill hole data. A downstream transition occurs from ice that is frozen to the bed, called bedfast ice, to ice that is floating on unfrozen water, called floating ice. This transition in ice type...
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The Aleutian Islands are situated on the northern edge of the so-called “Pacific Ring of Fire,” a 40,000-km-long horseshoe-shaped assemblage of continental landmasses and islands bordering the Pacific Ocean basin that contains many of the world's active and dormant volcanoes. Schaefer et al. (2009) listed 27 historically active volcanoes in the Aleutian Islands, of which nine have had at least one major eruptive event since 1990. Volcanic eruptions are often significant natural disturbances, and ecosystem responses to volcanic eruptions may vary markedly with eruption style (effusive versus explosive), frequency, and magnitude of the eruption as well as isolation of the disturbed sites from potential colonizing...
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Under the multiple-use paradigm, conflicts may arise when protection of an endangered species must compete with other management objectives. To resolve such a conflict in the Critical Habitat of the endangered Hawaiian honeycreeper, palila (Loxioides bailleui), federal courts ordered the eradication of introduced ungulates responsible for damaging the māmane (Sophora chrysophylla) forest on which palila depend. During 1980–2011, a total of 18,130 sheep (Ovis aries and O. gmelini musimon) and 310 goats (Capra hircus) were removed from Palila Critical Habitat (PCH) primarily by public hunters (54%) and secondarily by aerial shooting. Nevertheless, our analysis indicates that ungulates have increased over time. Palila...
The vegetation and climatic history of subalpine forests on the Colorado Plateau is documented from Lowder Creek Bog and Alpine Pond on the Markagunt Plateau. Pollen and macrofossil data demonstrate substantial changes at sites above 3150 m elevation during the last ca. 13,000 yr. During and after Late Wisconsin deglaciation, subalpine tree species (Picea engelmannii and Abies lasiocarpa) were rare or absent near the Lowder Creek Bog site, but nonarboreal species predominated. P. engelmannii-A. lasiocarpa forest became well-established there between 11,000 and 9800 yr BP and subalpine trees dominated this elevation throughout the Holocene. By ca. 8500 yr BP, however, Picea declined somewhat, with minimal pollen...
We examine trends in surface air temperature for the San Juan Mountain region in southwestern Colorado from 1895 to 2005. Observations from both National Weather Service (NWS) and Snow Telemetry (SNOTEL) sites are analyzed. Results show a net warming of 1 �C between 1895 and 2005. Most of this warming occurred between 1990 and 2005, when the region experienced rapid and secular increases in temperature. Between 1950 and 1985, there was a cooling trend in the region during which there were significant decreases in the maximum temperature (Tmax) and almost no trend in the minimum temperature (Tmin). This cooling trend appears to be, in part, associated with increases in atmospheric aerosols. Between 1990 and 2005,...
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Repeat photography is a powerful tool for detection of landscape change over decadal timescales. Here a novel method is presented that applies spatial analysis software to digital photo-pairs, allowing vegetation change to be categorized and quantified. This method is applied to 12 sites within the alpine treeline ecotone of Glacier National Park, Montana, and is used to examine vegetation changes over timescales ranging from 71 to 93 years. Tree cover at the treeline ecotone increased in 10 out of the 12 photo-pairs (mean increase of 60%). Establishment occurred at all sites, infilling occurred at 11 sites. To demonstrate the utility of this method, patterns of tree establishment at treeline are described and the...


map background search result map search result map Drainage network structure and hydrologic behavior of three lake-rich watersheds on the Arctic Coastal Plain, Alaska Drainage network structure and hydrologic behavior of three lake-rich watersheds on the Arctic Coastal Plain, Alaska